The Wiggles

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This article is about the children's musical group. For their self-titled debut album, see The Wiggles (album).
The Wiggles
63423main wiggles wave.jpg
The four original Wiggles in 2004 (from left to right: Greg Page, Jeff Fatt, Murray Cook, and Anthony Field)
Background information
Origin Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Genres Children's music
Years active 1991–present
Labels EMI (1990s),
ABC For Kids (Australia),
Razor & Tie and NCircle Entertainment (USA)
Website www.thewiggles.com.au
Members
Past members

The Wiggles are an Australian children's music group formed in Sydney, New South Wales in 1991. The current members of the group are Anthony Field, Emma Watkins, Simon Pryce and Lachlan Gillespie.[1][2] The original members were Field, Phillip Wilcher, Murray Cook, Greg Page, and Jeff Fatt.[3] Wilcher left the group after their first album. Page retired in 2006 due to ill health and was replaced by understudy Sam Moran, but returned in 2012, replacing Moran. At the end of 2012, Page, Cook and Fatt retired, although Cook and Fatt retained their shareholding in the group and all three continued to have input into the creative and production aspects of the group.

Field and Fatt were members of the Australian pop band The Cockroaches in the 1980s, and Cook was a member of several bands before meeting Field and Page at Macquarie University, where they were studying to become pre-school teachers. A school project led to the recording of their first album and tour in 1991. As a result of their background, the group combines music and theories of child development in their videos, television programs, and live shows. Since their inception, other regular characters (Captain Feathersword, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Henry the Octopus, and Wags the Dog) and a troupe called "The Wiggly dancers" have toured with them and appeared in their CDs, DVDs, and television programs.

The group has franchised their concepts to other countries, developed Wiggles sections in amusement parks in Australia and the US, and won several recording industry awards. The Wiggles have been called "the world's biggest preschool band" and "your child's first rock band".[4] The group has achieved worldwide success with their children's albums, videos, television series, and concert appearances. The Wiggles were named Business Review Weekly's top-earning Australian entertainers for four years in a row and earned A$45 million in 2009.[5] In 2011, the worldwide recession hit The Wiggles, as it had done for many Australian entertainers; they earned $28 million, but they still appeared second on the BRW's list that year. They have earned 17 gold, 12 platinum, three double-platinum, and ten multi-platinum awards for sales of over 17 million DVDs and four million CDs.[6] By 2002, The Wiggles had become the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) most successful pre-school television program.

History

Background

Anthony Field and Jeff Fatt were members of The Cockroaches, a Sydney pop band that toured Australia and recorded two albums of "60s inspired pop music"[7] during the 1980s.[8] In 1988, the infant daughter of Cockroaches band member Paul Field died of SIDS, and the group disbanded.[9] Anthony Field enrolled at Macquarie University in Sydney[8] to complete his degree in early childhood education, and later stated that his niece's death "ultimately led to the formation of [The] Wiggles".[9] Murray Cook, also "a mature-aged student",[10] was the guitarist in various pop bands, including Finger Guns[11] and Bang Shang a Lang, and had worked as a clerk at the Australian Taxation Office before enrolling at Macquarie.[12] Greg Page, who had been a roadie for and sang with The Cockroaches during their final years,[10][13] had enrolled in Macquarie to study early childhood education[8] on Field's recommendation. Field, Cook, and Page were among the half dozen men in a program with approximately 500 women.[note 1]

Cover art for The Wiggles' debut album (1991), with original member Phillip Wilcher.

Motivated to utilise early educational concepts to create high-quality children's music, the classmates created a music project for their courses and produced their first album in 1991,[8] dedicated to Field's deceased niece.[9] Like a university assignment, they produced a folder of essays that explained the educational value of each song on the album.[14] They needed a keyboardist "to bolster the rock'n'roll feel of the project",[10] so Field asked his old band mate Fatt, for his assistance in what they thought would be a temporary project.[15][note 2] The group received songwriting help from John Field, Anthony's brother and former band mate, and from Phillip Wilcher, who was working with the early childhood music program at Macquarie.[3][note 3] After contributing to their first album, hosting the group's first recording sessions in his Sydney home, and appearing in a couple of the group's first videos,[3] Wilcher chose to leave the group to pursue a career in classical music.[16][note 4]

First recorded in 1991 on The Wiggles' first album, this was originally a Cockroaches tune changed slightly to fit the genre of children's music.

"Do the Monkey", recorded by The Cockroaches in 1989. With very little changes, it is almost the same as The Wiggles' version, showing how The Wiggles revamped many songs in The Cockroaches' library

Originally a Cockroaches tune, one of the many songs in The Cockroaches' library that was changed from Australian pop to children's music

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The group reworked a few Cockroaches tunes to better fit the genre of children's music; for example, according to Field, a Cockroaches song he wrote, "Mr. Wiggles Back in Town" became "Get Ready to Wiggle" and inspired the band's name because they thought that wiggling described the way children dance.[7][13] The Cockroaches song "Hot Tamale", written by John Field, was changed to "Hot Potato".[17] Field gave copies of their album to his young students to test out the effect of the group's music on children; one child's mother returned it the next day because her child would not stop listening to it.[18]

At first, The Wiggles filmed two music videos with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to promote their first album; they also decided to create a self-produced, forty-minute long video version of their album. Finances were limited, so there was no post-production editing of the video project. They used Field's nieces and nephews as additional cast, and hired the band's girlfriends to perform in character costumes. Cook's wife made their first costumes.[13] They used two cameras and visually checked the performance of each song; that way, according to Paul Field, it took them less time to complete a forty-minute video than it took other production companies to complete a three-minute music video.[14]

Early career

The Cockroaches' former manager, Jeremy Fabinyl, became the group's first manager. Using their previous connections, he negotiated with the ABC to air their TV show and to help them promote their first recording.[19] The album cost approximately A$4,000 to produce and it sold 100,000 copies in 1991.[13] Field, Cook, and Page began their teaching careers,[20] but on Fabinyi's advice, they toured in unusual settings throughout Sydney, New South Wales, and eastern Australia.[8][15] They could only perform during school holidays, so finding time to perform together was, as Field reported, "challenging".[13] Their debut performance was at a pre-school in Randwick. They busked at Circular Quay, performing for crowds disembarking from Manly Ferry, toured in Westfield shopping centres, and performed at pre-schools. They were promoted by local playgroups or nursing mothers' associations with whom they split their proceeds.[21] They performed at pre-schools with other ABC children's performers; when five hundred people attended these concerts just to see The Wiggles, they started doing their own shows, and according to Field, "Suddenly people started rolling up to performances in astonishing numbers".[13][19] In 1993, Field, Cook, and Page, along with Fatt, decided to give up teaching for a year to focus on performing full-time to see if they could make a living out of it.[13][20]

As Fatt reported, "it was very much a cottage industry".[21] They used many of the business techniques developed by The Cockroaches, choosing to remain as independent and self-contained as possible.[22] John Field, Mike Conway, who later became The Wiggles' general manager, trumpeter Dominic Lindsay, and Cockroaches saxophonist Daniel Fallon performed with them.[21][23][note 5] Anthony Field, with input from the other members, did most of the production of their music, DVDs, and live shows.[24] Their act was later augmented with supporting characters: the "friendly pirate" Captain Feathersword and the animal characters Dorothy the Dinosaur, Henry the Octopus, and Wags the Dog. These characters were initially performed by the band members themselves: Field played Captain Feathersword and Wags; Cook played Dorothy; and Fatt played Henry.[25]

After the production of their second album, The Wiggles, who were called by their first names when they performed, began to wear costumes on stage as Fabinyi suggested and as The Cockroaches had done, and adopted colour-coded shirts: Greg in yellow, Murray in red, Jeff in purple, and Anthony in blue. As Field reported, the decision to emphasise colour was "a no-brainer, considering our preschool-age audience".[19] Cook and Fatt already owned shirts in their colours, but Field and Page "met in a Sydney department store and literally raced to see who got the blue shirt".[19] Each Wiggle developed a gimmick based on their actual behaviours: Greg performed magic tricks; Murray played the guitar; Jeff fell asleep (as Moran said, "Jeff really does fall asleep");[26] Anthony liked to eat. These behaviours evolved into caricatures, and served the same purpose as the uniforms in differentiating their characters and making them memorable to young children.[26]

Simple movements were developed by choreographer Leeanne Ashley to accompany each song.[8] One of these simple movements, their signature finger-wagging move, was created by Cook after seeing professional bowlers do it on television.[15] It became the group's policy to use this pose when being photographed with children. They insisted that touching children, no matter how innocently, was inappropriate. The use of the pose protected them from possible litigation; as Paul Paddick has explained, "There is no doubting where their hands are".[25] The group incorporated more dancing into their performances after the birth of Field's oldest daughter in 2004. "So [The] Wiggles have kind of become a bit more, dare I say, girly. Dorothy (the Dinosaur) does ballet now and we dance as well a lot more than we did", Field reported.[27] The group's performances were very energetic, and they intentionally made mistakes in their dance moves in order to identify more with their young audience.[4] In later years, corresponding with Field's developing interests in acrobatics and gymnastics, they added these elements to their stage shows. They included, as Field reported, several world-class athletes such as former trampoline champion Karl Shore in their cast.[28]

Success at home and abroad

Through the rest of the 1990s, The Wiggles maintained a busy recording and touring schedule, becoming as Field reported and despite his strong dislike of touring, "the hardest-working touring act in the country".[22] They released multiple albums and home videos, and performed to increasingly large audiences in Australia and New Zealand as they re-introduced themselves to a new audience of children every three years.[29] At first, their popularity grew through, as Fatt reported, "word of mouth".[13] They produced a new album and video each year and toured to promote it. By late 1993, they "grew bigger than anyone had thought", and hundreds attended their concerts,[30] and by 1995, they had set records for video and music sales. In 1997, Twentieth Century Fox produced a feature-length film, The Wiggles Movie, which became the fifth-highest grossing Australian film of 1998.[31]

In spite of their early success, Paul Field reported that the band was unable to produce a television program on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, where they felt they would receive the most exposure to the pre-school market.[14] They filmed a television pilot for the ABC, but as The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported in 2002, "the project never got off the ground due to irreconcilable artistic differences".[18] By 1998, The Wiggles were ready to move on to international (the US and the UK) markets, despite the health issues that plagued them, especially Field.[32] Disney arranged for the group to perform at Disneyland, where they were discovered by Lyrick Studios, the producers of Barney & Friends.[note 6] Lyrick was reluctant to sponsor The Wiggles at first, thinking that the band members' Australian accents might not be acceptable to American audiences, but changed their minds when they tested The Wiggles' videos with American children. Lyrick began to distribute Wiggles videos in the US, advertised them in their other videos,[14] and hired the group to perform during the intermission of Barney Live stage shows in the US.[8][note 7] Field reported that the reaction of producers in the UK was less positive than they would have liked, but they were eventually able to make inroads there.[32]

As they had done in Australia, The Wiggles depended upon grass-roots efforts to promote themselves in the US. Some of their first appearances were at Blockbuster Video parking lots to small audiences—as Fatt said, "a dozen people".[13] The videos were distributed in boutique stores such as FAO Schwarz and Zany Brainy, and on-line. They performed at small venues such as church halls and 500-seat theatres in Brooklyn and New Jersey. Field reported that one week they would perform to 8,000 in Sydney and to 20 people the following week at a parking lot in a small town in the US. One time, they performed for a dozen people at the Mall of America in Minnesota, but half of them were hired by Lyrick. When tickets to their shows sold out a few months later, they moved to larger arenas such as the Beacon Theatre and Madison Square Garden.[14][33] In 2000, Lyrick put a Wiggles song on one of their Barney videos, and as Field stated, "that pushed us over the edge".[34] Also in 2000, the group's first two North American releases Yummy Yummy and Wiggle Time appeared in Amazon.com's top ten, and Walmart began selling their videos. Their audiences began to increase, and they toured Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the US, and the UK.[34]

The Wiggles' "strong connection" with the US was "forged in the shell-shocked weeks after the terrorist attacks on New York City in 2001",[35] when the group performed there, even when other acts cancelled their tours. Paul Field reported that "New York has really embraced them. It was a kind of watershed".[35] The decision earned them respect and loyalty in the US.[35] According to Cook, the press proclaimed that they were braver than many Australian sports teams that had cancelled their appearances.[13][note 8][35] Strong sales of The Wiggles videos eventually caught the attention of the Disney Channel, who was impressed by their "strong pro-social message".[35] In January 2002, Disney began showing a Wiggles video clip between programs of its morning Playhouse Disney block. By June of that year, the popularity of these interstitials, prompted the Disney Channel to add both seasons of "The Wiggles" to the Playhouse Disney program schedule, showing full episodes multiple times per day.[21][36] Field reported that despite their "modest production values",[37] the shows were popular with preschoolers. Beginning in 2002, The Wiggles filmed four seasons worth of shows exclusively with the ABC. The network called them "the most successful property that the ABC has represented in the pre-school genre".[18] By the end of 2002, according to Field, "we knew we were involved in something extraordinary in the US".[38] Their concert schedule in North America doubled, seemingly overnight; they began performing up to 520 shows per year all over the world.[note 9][29][37] They also began to produce other stage shows in Australia, the UK and US such as The Dorothy the Dinosaur Show and The Captain Feathersword Show. These shows featured their characters, an MC, and a few dancers, for the purpose of continuing their presence in places The Wiggles themselves were unable to visit.[39][note 10] They also expanded their business ventures during this time, in the form of toys and merchandise and franchising their concept in other countries.[13][40]

Page's retirement

In December 2005, lead singer and founding member Page, at age 33, underwent a double hernia operation. He withdrew from The Wiggles' US tour in June 2006, after suffering fainting spells, lethargy, nausea, and loss of balance. He returned to Australia, where doctors diagnosed his condition as orthostatic intolerance, a chronic but not life-threatening condition.[41] Page's final performance with The Wiggles was in Kingston, Rhode Island.[42]

Sam Moran and wife Lyn at Australia Day 2009 Celebrations in Wagga Wagga.

On 30 November 2006, the Wiggles announced Page's retirement from the group. "I'll miss being a part of The Wiggles very much, but this is the right decision because it will allow me to focus on managing my health", Page said in a taped message posted on the group's web page.[41] Page was replaced by Moran, who had served as an understudy for The Wiggles for five years and had already stood in for Page for 150 shows. Initially, The Wiggles struggled over their decision to replace Page, but they decided to continue as a group because they thought that was what their young audience would want.[42] They decided to be honest with their audience about Page's illness because it provided a "teachable moment" and an opportunity to demonstrate to young children that it was "part of life", as Fatt said.[43] As part owner of The Wiggles, Page received a payout of about $20 million.[44]

Moran era

The Wiggles' line up in 2007, riding in the Big Red Car during a concert.

Although Moran's transition as The Wiggles' lead singer was "smooth" for the young children of their audience, it was more difficult for their parents.[43] Moran reported that "most children understood".[13] Field reported that by 2011, due to the ever-changing nature of their audience, most of their young fans did not know Page, just as their older fans were unaware of Moran.[29] Cook reported that Moran did well as a Wiggle, and that the addition of Moran changed their sound, forced the group to rethink things, and made the band stronger.[4] Although Moran struggled with the spontaneity of The Wiggles' stage performances, Cook said, "We've never felt like we had to carry him or anything. He's a smart guy. But it is a bit different, just having a different person on stage".[4] Moran's background in musical theatre was different from that of his band mates, so The Wiggles had to change the way they recorded their music.[4] At sound checks, their practice was to improvise, but Moran often did not know the songs the other three used at those times.[4] Cook reported that it took some time for Moran, but a year after Page's retirement stated, "We're slowly educating each other".[4] Moran was featured in his first DVD and CD as a member of the group in early 2008, and a sixth season of The Wiggles' television series featuring Moran was filmed and began airing in Australia.[45]

At the end of 2007, The Wiggles donated their complete back catalogue of 27 master tapes to Australia's National Film and Sound Archive.[46] Their business ventures during these years included opening up "Wiggles World" sections in theme parks all over the world,[47][48] internet offerings,[49] the creation of new television shows,[13] and a five-year long partnership with the digital cable channel Sprout in 2009.[50] In December 2010, Cinemalive beamed a Wiggles concert live from Acer Arena into movie theatres all over Australia, for children and their families unable to attend their shows. In early July 2011, founding member Fatt underwent heart surgery after feeling unwell for several weeks[51] and having a blackout. He missed the mid-year US tour as a result, after not missing a show in twenty years.[52] Also in 2011, The Wiggles celebrated their 20th anniversary with circus-themed shows and performances throughout the Australian outback in a circus tent,[29] as well as a "physically gruelling"[53] birthday-themed tour of 90 shows throughout Australia, which Paul Field called "one of the biggest of their careers".[53]

Reunion with Page

In January 2012, and amidst a great deal of controversy, [note 11] The Wiggles announced that Page had regained his health and was returning to his role as the Yellow Wiggle. He returned as an employee "exactly on the same level as Sam", rather than a co-owner, having relinquished his business interest in The Wiggles Pty Ltd after he left in 2006.[44]

As part of his severance package, Moran continued to collect song royalties and was granted use of The Wiggles' studios.[44][54][55]

Departure of Page, Cook and Fatt

In mid-2012, The Wiggles announced that year would be the final year of touring for Page, Fatt, and Cook. Field continued to perform and tour with the group; Emma Watkins, the first female member of The Wiggles, replaced Page, Lachlan Gillespie replaced Fatt, and Simon Pryce replaced Cook.[1][2] Anthony Field remained in the group because he wanted to continue to educate children and as Paul Field stated, "to placate American, British and Canadian business partners",[24] and to continue The Wiggles' brand.[56] Page, Fatt, and Cook remained involved with the creative and production aspects of the group.[40] The decision was made in February 2012, during a recording session, in a meeting between the group's founding members, Paul Field, and Conway. Fatt came up with the idea because of his health issues, and Cook agreed because he wanted to spend more time with his family; Page was reluctant because he had just returned, but as Cook said, "Once he realised the two of us had decided, he felt it was best if the three of us went together".[56]

The group, for their farewell tour, visited eight countries and 141 cities, for a total of almost 250 shows in over 200 days for 640,000 people.[57] In the concerts, Watkins, Gillespie and Pryce performed in "In Training" t-shirts, and debuted the song "Do the Propeller!"[58] The final televised performance of the original band members, along with the new members, was on 22 December 2012, during the annual Carols in the Domain in Sydney.[59] Their final performance was on 23 December at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.[60]

Also by 2012, The Wiggles performed to audiences whose parents attended their shows in their early years, and they were hiring people to perform their costumed characters who were part of their audience as young children.[61][note 12] The Wiggles began airing a show on Sirius XM satellite radio in late 2012, featuring the original members and their replacements, and stories and games for young listeners.[62]

"New Wiggles" era

The Wiggles, with Field and its new members, began touring in early 2013. Cook became the group's road manager in mid-2013. After a seven-year absence from Australian television, they filmed a new show, called Ready, Steady, Wiggle, that was to premiere in September on ABC. The series was filmed in their spare time, at their studio in Sydney between tours and on the road. Watkins, who had a film-making degree, played an important role in its production.[63]

Musical style

The Wiggles have written new music each year since their inception; they have tended to sequester themselves for a month each summer and write three albums' worth of original children's music based on simple concepts familiar to young children, and upon several genres of music and types of instruments. Most of their songs were short and started with the chorus because the group believed that it was necessary to provide young children with the topic of each song in its first few lines.[8] They wrote songs individually at first, but eventually wrote them as a group, often with John Field, trumpet player Dominic Lindsay, and Paddick.[64] John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival, who appeared in a Wiggles video in 2002, was "very impressed" with their songwriting, especially with their drum sound.[8]

According to Field, the transition from writing music for an adult rock band to writing children's music was not a big one for The Wiggles. "The Wiggles music isn't all that far removed from what we did in The Cockroaches, just a different subject matter" Field stated. "The Cockroaches sing about girls and love and stuff like that; The Wiggles sing about hot potatoes and cold spaghetti."[65] For example, they approached a topic like eating as they would in a pre-school setting, including encouraging children to eat healthy foods.[14] Field also reported that because both The Wiggles and The Cockroaches were inspired by 60s pop music, the main difference between the groups was "just the lyrics".[7] The Wiggles' songs were influenced by nursery rhymes, folk music, and rock music that both children and their parents could enjoy.[26] Moran stated that The Wiggles wrote songs they liked and would listen to, and then made them "child-appropriate".[26]

Page reported, "First and foremost, we're entertainers".[65] The Wiggles captured the interest of children by first entertaining them, and then by presenting them with educational messages.[65] The group decided to write and perform children's music that was different from what had been done in the genre previously.[8] They were not tied to one style or genre of music and often experimented in the studio; while some of their recordings were orchestral, others had a more live feel. The group was aware that their songs were often children's first exposure to music.[4] Cook was conscious that he was probably the first guitarist children would see, and said, "I always think that if it inspires kids to play guitar later on that would be great. I think it would be really nice if in 15 years I read that somebody got into guitar playing because of [The] Wiggles".[64]

Educational theory

"Where was the fun? Where were the references to the simple things that are so dominant in a child's life? Favourite books, colours, dancing, playing, nap time. And what's wrong with kids getting up and grooving; squealing, screaming, and laughing through a performance? I wanted to explore alternate ways to write and perform for young children, to ensure the music was for them, not just the musician. Nothing complicated, snide, or condescending."

—Anthony Field, speaking about the state of children's music in the early 1990s, 2012[66]

The Wiggles' songwriting and simple choreography in their stage shows, videos, and television programs were influenced by the concepts of early childhood development and how young children learn.[8] Anthony Field reported, as he studied music for young children at university, being "shocked...at the non-inclusive way music for children was usually performed".[66] According to Field, children had to sit silently as musicians played "traditional songs often featuring negative or outdated lyrics and dealing with subject matter of no interest to small children".[66] These songs were often made up of messages with adult themes children did not care about or understand.

The group's "golden rule", according to Field, was to make the content of their songs and shows "developmentally appropriate and fun".[67] Their music, stage shows, and television and DVD productions were developed, as The New York Times reported, "from the premise that a young child has a short attention span, is curious about a limited number of objects and activities, loves having a job to do and is thrilled by mastering basic movements".[8] They also respected their audience's intelligence and insight about entertainment, information, and honesty. As Field said, "Young children identify with relevant concepts, and enjoy being entertained and being part of the entertainment. They are willing to commit to interacting if you are direct, inclusive, and positive".[68] The group understood that challenging young children to engage in difficult tasks is more effective than simply telling them to do it.[14] They believed that young children were egocentric, so they stared continually into the camera in their videos and TV shows, and explained every action because they believed that young children needed to be told what to expect in order to feel safe.[8]

"We have a license to be silly, and a lot of what we do is about joy."

—Murray Cook, 2010[13]

The Wiggles' stage shows were full of action and audience participation. They believed in empowering children by practices such as greeting their audience members with "Hello, everyone", instead of "Hello, boys and girls" because as Paul Field has explained, the second greeting "unnecessarily separates children and has undertones of condescension".[14] Kathleen Warren, the group's former professor at Macquarie University, believed that the group empowered children by asking their audience to "Wake up Jeff" when Fatt pretended to fall asleep.[21][note 13] Warren stated that asking children to interrupt Fatt's slumber helped them build confidence and to feel more in control of their lives. Fatt was the only original member of The Wiggles without a background in early childhood education; he explained that was the reason falling asleep was chosen as his gimmick, "because it was a way of getting me involved in the shows without actually having to do anything".[18] Paul Field reported that children in The Wiggles' audience felt "great excitement" and were disappointed if not given the opportunity to help Jeff in this way.[14] Anthony Field, who called it "a simple audience participation and interaction gag we've done since the start of the group",[69] claimed that it endeared Fatt to their audiences. The group's members took turns falling asleep in the early days of the group, but it became Fatt's gimmick because "it was a perfect fit".[69]

Between 1999 and 2003, to test the group's appeal across cultures, Warren used one of The Wiggles' CDs as an educational tool in a village near Madang, on the north coast of Papua New Guinea. She found that the Madangese children were able to relate to the group's songs, and that they were able to sing along and participate in their simple choreography.[21] Although The Wiggles' recorded and performed songs, dances, and musical styles from different cultures and languages,[14] The Wiggles did not find that adapting their music to non-Australian cultures was necessary to reach children in other countries.[35] As Cook and Field stated, "...Toddlers don't have the same hang ups as adults".[34] The Wiggles recognised that as long as they spoke at the same level as their audience, their Australian accents would not matter, and that young children were able to adapt to a variety of contexts and to different pronunciations of common words, no matter where they resided.

Brand and finances

Main article: The Wiggles Pty Ltd

Despite Field's expressed dislike of the term, preferring to refer to it as "preserving the good name of The Wiggles",[70] the group has stressed the importance and were protective of their brand. They remained as independent as possible, and retained full creative control and ownership of every aspect of their business. As Field stated, The Wiggles Pty Ltd was "not your regular 'corporate culture'".[71] They made decisions by consensus and made business decisions based upon their experience as performers and their knowledge of early childhood education. They did not tour with a large troupe of dancers, cast, and crew until the late 1990s, and had high expectations regarding the behaviour and attitude of everyone associated with the group. They made careful decisions regarding their endorsements of toys and other products, and avoided over-extending their brand by only licensing products that correlated with their image.

Anthony Field (in 2012). Field was instrumental in developing The Wiggles' business model.

The Wiggles became formally consolidated in 2005. The group's board of directors consisted of the original three members, Paul Field, who has been general manager of operations since the group was formed and their manager since the mid-1990s, and Mike Conway, who had worked for Ernst & Young in England and become their general manager in 2001.[13][21][72] The group was named Australia's richest entertainers by Business Review Weekly (BRW) for four years in a row (2004–2008). They earned A$45 million in 2009, when they were third on BRW's annual list.[5] In 2011, the worldwide recession hit The Wiggles, as it had done for many Australian entertainers; they earned $28 million, but they still appeared second on the BRW's list that year.[73] By 2012, founding members Anthony Field, Cook, and Fatt retained 30% ownership of their brand, and Paul Field and Conway each owned 5%.[40] It was reported that as part owner of The Wiggles, Page was given a $20 million payout when he left the group in 2006.[44] Other ventures of The Wiggles Pty Ltd included franchising their concept to South America, Taiwan, and other countries, opening "Wiggles World" sections in theme parks, and online offerings.

Reception

The Wiggles enjoyed "almost universal approval" throughout their history.[40] Their songs were sung and played in pre-schools all around the world, which according to Paul Field, was the "equivalent of having the Stones cover one of your songs".[14] By 2008, The Wiggles had earned seventeen gold, twelve platinum, three double-platinum, and ten multi-platinum awards for sales of over 17 million DVDs and four million CDs.[6] They performed for over 1.5 million children in the US between 2005 and 2008.[43] They have earned ADSDA's award for Highest Selling Children's Album four times.[6] In 2007, the group won two APRA awards: the International Achievement Award and the Most Performed Screen Composer - Overseas award.[74] They have been nominated for ARIA's Best Children's Album award eighteen times, and won the award eleven times.[note 14] In 2003, they received ARIA's Outstanding Achievement Award "for their significant achievements in the industry from their early days as The Cockroaches to their current global success in children's entertainment".[75] As part of the 2011 ARIA Music Awards, The Wiggles were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame, along with Kylie Minogue.[76]

In 2003, when the group performed at Madison Square Garden, front-row tickets were sold for US$500,[35] in spite of The Wiggles' efforts to reduce scalping by limiting the number of seats sold per transaction.[77] In 2008, the group found themselves in the midst of what The Daily Telegraph called a "ticketing scandal";[77] scalpers tried to sell a A$19 ticket on eBay for almost A$2,000 and a set of three tickets for A$315 for concerts in Melbourne, and a group of three tickets to a Wiggles UNICEF charity concert in Sydney had a price tag of A$510. The tickets were taken off eBay and voided.[77]

In what Paul Field called "one of the highlights of their 15 years of being together",[78] The Wiggles were awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Australian Catholic University in 2006. Cook gave the commencement speech for the graduates.[78] They were awarded another honorary doctoral degree in 2009 from their alma mater, Macquarie University.[79]

The group was named UNICEF goodwill ambassadors in early 2008.[80] In 2010, the four original members of The Wiggles were appointed Members in the Order of Australia for their service to the arts in Australia, especially children's entertainment, and for their contributions and support of several charities. They called the honour their "biggest recognition yet".[81] The group has always invited children with special needs and their families to pre-concert "meet and greet" sessions.[47] According to Fatt, many parents of these children have reported that The Wiggles' music has enhanced their lives, and that children with autism "respond to [The] Wiggles and nothing else".[43] Since 1995, The Wiggles have visited and performed for patients at the Sydney Children's Hospital every Christmas morning.[82]

In 2011, ABC Music released an album titled "Rewiggled - A Tribute To The Wiggles" to celebrate the 20th birthday of the group. The album features covers of many favourite Wiggles songs performed by notable Australian music artists.[83]

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Field admitted that one of things that drew him to teaching was the fact that women outnumbered the men at Macquarie's program (Field, p. 21).
  2. ^ According to Field, the four original members of The Wiggles, with Page's "mellifluous voice" and "perfect children's music instrument", Cook's knowledge of child development, Fatt's "incredible musicianship and gentle persona" that appealed to children, and Field's energy, balanced each other (Field, p. 44).
  3. ^ Field called Wilcher "a talented musician and composer" (Field, p. 28).
  4. ^ In 2003, Wilcher claimed that his involvement with The Wiggles had been "virtually erased"; in the late 90s, they re-recorded their first CD, renamed it, and removed all of Wilcher's compositions.
  5. ^ According to Anthony Field, his brother John enjoyed the group's busking performances, but found their preschool gigs "weird", choosing to contribute by writing and changing The Cockroaches' songs to children's songs (Field, p. 29).
  6. ^ Field reported that Lyrick understood The Wiggles and their goals (Field, p. 56).
  7. ^ According to Field, they had to leave their own dinosaur Dorothy behind, stating tongue in cheek, "Too many dinosaurs on stage can be distracting" (p. 59).
  8. ^ They performed 12 sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden in 2003, and have appeared in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the first time in 2001. 1 November 2003 was declared "Wiggles Day" in New York City.
  9. ^ By 2011, the group's 20th anniversary, they were performing 350—400 shows a year.
  10. ^ Moran was an MC and Gillespie performed in these productions.
  11. ^ Cook later admitted that they were "shocked by the backlash that followed".[1]
  12. ^ This includes Emma Watkins who mentioned in a Ten News interview that she and her sister were shown in the concert audience for the 1997 Wiggledance! video. - Wiggle reaction (YouTube). Ten News. 18 May 2012. Event occurs at 0:54-1:03. 
  13. ^ Warren has been a consultant for The Wiggles since Field, Cook, and Page were her students at Macquarie University.
  14. ^ They won in 1995 for Big Red Car, in 1996 for Wake Up Jeff!, in 1998 for Toot Toot!, in 2005 for Live Hot Potatoes, in 2006 for Racing to the Rainbow, in 2007 for Pop Go The Wiggles, in 2008 for You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, in 2009 for Go Bananas!, in 2010 for Lets Eat!, in 2011 for Ukelele Baby, and in 2012 for Surfer Jeff. [2]

References

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  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Wright, Anders (25 March 2008). "Baby's first rock band". San Diego Citybeat. Retrieved 2012-05-20. 
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External links