|Birth name||Jeffrey Wayne Fatt|
|Born||21 July 1953|
Casino, New South Wales, Australia
Jeffrey Wayne Fatt, AM (born 21 July 1953) is an Australian musician and actor. He was a member of the children's group the Wiggles from its founding in 1991 to 2012, and was also in the 1980s and 1990s pop band the Cockroaches. He was the oldest member of the original Wiggles line up.
Early life and education
The son of Chinese parents who owned a large retail store in Casino, New South Wales, Fatt had aspirations to become an architect, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in industrial design. Anthony Field described him as a "bush kid" who "first learned to let his keyboard do most of the talking". He opened a public address equipment business with his brother in Sydney when he began playing keyboard for the rockabilly band the Roadmasters, and was recruited by Anthony and Paul Field to join the Cockroaches.
After the Cockroaches disbanded in the early 1990s, Anthony Field asked Fatt, who was renovating his house at the time, to help them record the Wiggles' first album in 1991. Fatt reported, "I got this call from Anthony: 'Hello, Anthony. Go away, go away. I'm not interested,' you know. He's always got these ideas for things. He said, 'I've got this idea, come down to the studio.'" Fatt's response to Field's request was, "Sure but how long will it take?" Field reported that as Fatt had done for the Cockroaches, he was "a musical backbone for the Wiggles".
As a Wiggle, Fatt wore a purple skivvy. He originated the Wiggles character Henry the Octopus and has occasionally voiced Wags the Dog, and performed those voices when other actors took over the roles. Fatt reported that it took twelve months to "learn the language of preschool", including addressing children using the inclusive "everybody", instead of "boys and girls", and that the Wiggles' first performances were traumatic for him because he was not used to being around children.
Fatt's schtick was sleeping at odd times, which led to a Wiggles catchphrase and the title of one of their songs, "Wake Up, Jeff!" Fatt was the oldest Wiggle and was well known for his "laid-back personality", which according to Field, made him "invaluable company on the road". As Sam Moran has said, when referring to the development of the Wiggles' shticks, "Jeff really does fall asleep", and Fatt reported, "The irony is I'm a very light sleeper in the nighttime. I will invariably have a snooze before the show". Fatt was the only member of the Wiggles without a background in early childhood education; he stated that was the reason falling asleep was chosen as his shtick, "because it was a way of getting me involved in the shows without actually having to do anything". Field claimed Fatt's shtick endeared Fatt to their audiences and called it "a simple audience participation and interaction gag we've done since the start of the group". Kathleen Warren, the group's former professor at Macquarie University and their consultant for their shows and DVDs, believed that the shtick empowered children, and 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. Anthony Field reported that although in the early days of the group, they took turns falling asleep, it became Fatt's shtick because "it was a perfect fit".
On 17 May 2012 it was announced that Fatt along with Greg Page and Murray Cook, would be retiring at the end of the year. Wiggles cast member Lachlan Gillespie replaced him as the purple Wiggle. Fatt and the others are expected to remain involved with the creative and production aspects of the group. He continues to perform in reunion shows.
In July 2020, he appeared with the other classic Wiggles in The Soul Movers music video "Circles Baby".
In September 2020, following the announcement of the birth of Gillespie's daughters, Lulu and Lottie, it was announced Gillespie would take some time away from the group in order to spend time with them. As a result, Fatt decided to temporarily replace Gillespie to film The Wiggly World Of Dance Classes, a four-part series.
In what Paul Field called "one of the highlights of their 15 years of being together", Fatt, along with the original members of the Wiggles, was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Australian Catholic University in 2006. All five members of the band were awarded another honorary doctoral degree in 2009 from Macquarie University. Fatt, along with the other three original Wiggles, was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in January 2010 "for service to the arts, particularly children's entertainment, and to the community as a benefactor and supporter of a range of charities."[dead link] Fatt also received an ARIA Hall of Fame Award with the Wiggles in 2011.
In early July 2011, Fatt underwent heart surgery after feeling unwell for several weeks and having a blackout. He was diagnosed as having a heart arrhythmia and was fitted with a defibrillator at Sydney's Mater Hospital. His surgery was "urgent but routine" and Fatt was expected to recover completely. He missed the summer US tour as a result, after never missing a show in 20 years.
- Field, Anthony; Truman, Greg (2012). How I Got My Wiggle Back: A Memoir of Healing. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-01933-7.
- ""澳洲日"全国446人获表扬 两华人荣获勋衔". 中国新闻网 (China News Service) (in Chinese). 26 January 2010. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
- Donaldson, Elise (20 July 2018). "Today's Birthday 21/7". Australian Associated Press. Retrieved 30 July 2018 – via Yahoo.
- Blake, Elissa (2 September 2007). "Unusual Suspects". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 13 October 2007. Retrieved 3 September 2007.
- Field, p. 49
- "Jeff". The Wiggles Official Website. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 31 July 2007.
- "About Us". The Wiggles Official Website. Archived from the original on 18 August 2007. Retrieved 31 July 2007.
- "Enough Rope with Andrew Denton, episode 15, The Wiggles". ABC TV Online. 23 June 2003. Retrieved 23 January 2007.
- Eng, Dinah (23 January 2010). "How The Wiggles became an Empire". CNN Money. CNN.
- Field, p. 48
- Durden, Douglas. "A New Face". Richmond Times-Dispatch.
- Markstrom, Serena (21 March 2008). "Fab Four of Kid Rock Comes to Town". The Register Guard. Retrieved 23 March 2008 – via The Free Library.
- Tabakoff, Jenny (10 October 2002). "Wake Up, Aunty!". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- Munro, Catharine (22 May 2005). "The Wiggly way". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
- Field, Paul (8 November 2006). "It's a Wiggly Wiggly World" (PDF). Currency House. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 March 2015. Retrieved 18 March 2009.
- Field, p. 14
- Quinn, Karl (19 May 2012). "Wiggle Room: The Brand Played On". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
- Natalie (14 September 2020). "Purple Wiggle Lachy Gillespie Welcomes Twin Baby Girls". 101.7 WSFM. Sydney. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
- Benson, Jenna (17 September 2020). "Original Purple Wiggle Jeff Has Returned To 'The Wiggles'!". 101.7 WSFM. Sydney. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
- Sams, Christine (6 April 2006). "Wiggles Four Degrees Hotter". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- Fraser, Jane E. (20 September 2009). "The Wiggles Go to the Top of the Class". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- "Purple Wiggle Jeff Fatt Undergoes Surgery to Fix Broken Heart". Herald Sun. 2 July 2011.
- "Jeff Fatt OAM". Australian Honours Database. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
- "Casino Wiggle now adds OAM to name". The Northern Star. 27 January 2010.
- Feain, Dominic (29 November 2011). "Wake up Jeff, it's an ARIA". The Northern Star.
- "Wiggle Jeff Fatt Has a Tricky Ticker". The Daily Telegraph. 20 September 2009. Retrieved 22 July 2011.