The Wiggles making room for a new generation
Published Thursday, May 17, 2012 10:03AM EDT
Pre-schoolers have reason to shed a few tears today, after hearing news that three members of popular musical troupe The Wiggles have announced their retirement. It's not all bad news, though, as the show will go on with a new lineup that includes the group's first female member.
After 21 years and more than 4,000 live shows across the globe, members Jeff Fatt (known simply as "Purple" due to his onstage attire), Greg Page ("Yellow"), and Murray Cook ("Red") will leave the Aussie hitmakers when their "Celebration Tour" of the U.K., U.S, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia wraps up at the end of 2012. Anthony "Blue" Field is the only original Wiggle who will remain part of the group.
Formed in 1991, The Wiggles' won young fans with catchy, kid-friendly tunes and their "Big Red Car."
The Wiggles also appealed to parents, thanks to their careful attention to child development honed when Cook, Field and Page met while studying Early Childhood Education at Sydney's Macquarie University.
Uncertain of their job prospects after graduation, the three men began writing children's songs.
Field joined their ranks then too, having played with Fatt in the 1980s' Sydney pop band, The Cockroaches.
With that final addition The Wiggles were born.
The fledgling band reworked several Cockroaches tunes to suit pre-schoolers and took their tape to ABC Music. Pleased with the buoyant fare, the label released The Wiggles self-titled debut album in 1991.
Since then, "The Wiggles" have gone on to make videos, TV programs and perform internationally in live shows. Other characters, such as Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus, Dorothy the Dinosaur and Captain Feathersword have toured with The Wiggles and appeared in their CDs, videos and TV shows.
According to The Wiggles' website, they've sold at least 23 million DVDs and 7 million CDs along the way. The group has also topped Australia's list of highest-earning entertainers several times since its inception.
"We've been entertaining children around the world for 21 years and it's important that we plan for the future so that The Wiggles can keep wiggling in the years to come," Cook said in a statement posted to the group's website.
The three retiring Wiggles will still contribute songs, dances and other idea to the group, they stressed.
Emma Watkins, a 20-year-old backup dancer with the group, will fill the role of the yellow Wiggle. Watkins's appointment also marks the first time a female player will star in The Wiggles.
Lachlan Gillespie and Simon Pryce, two figures that have played with the troupe in the past, will play the parts of the purple and red Wiggles.
It remains to be seen how children will embrace this new generation of Wiggles stars. But the time had come to end their wonderful ride in the big red car, according to Page.
"We have been so lucky to do something that we love for so long," Page said in a statement.