Playing feel-good rock and R&B music proved successful for the Cockroaches; they even scored a Top Ten hit during the 12 years they spent together. But when the band broke up in 1991, bandmembers Tony Field and Jeff Fatt decided to form a children's band that would prove far more successful than anything they had previously experienced. Calling themselves the Wiggles, Field and Fatt joined forces with Murray Cook (bass) and Greg Page (vocals). All four were qualified preschool teachers and the Wiggles, with their distinctive colorful skivvies, quickly earned a reputation for writing well-crafted children's songs. Children immediately took to their storytelling, singing, and dancing, and such characters as Dorothy the Dinosaur, Henry the Octopus, Captain Feathersword, and Wags the Dog helped launch a range of Wiggles merchandise.
Their debut album, The Wiggles, sold 70,000 copies, while its single, "Here Comes a Song," sold 35,000 copies alone. The follow-up albums Here Comes a Song (1992), Yummy Yummy (1993), Big Red Car (1995), and Wiggly Wiggly Christmas (1996) also achieved similar success. Also, the Wiggles won two Australian Performing Rights Association (APRA) songwriting awards for Best Children's Song of 1994, 1995, and 1996. Big Red Car, Wake Up Jeff!, and Toot Toot! also won Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) Awards for Best Children's Release in 1995, 1996, and 1998, respectively.
Videos such as Wiggle Time, Yummy Yummy, and Big Red Car all achieved double-platinum status while the band's fourth video, Wake Up Jeff!, sold over 200,000 copies in 1996. With the release of The Wiggle Dance in 1997, the Wiggles had sold almost one million videos and their two books, Let's Wiggle and Dorothy the Dinosaur's Picture Book, were in multiple editions. The Wiggles released their first film, Dorothy the Dinosaur, in 1997 and have toured New Zealand and the U.K. twice, as well as the U.S. six times.
The Wiggles' popularity grew even larger during the 2000s, with the Disney Channel and ABC carrying the group's television show in the U.S. In 2006, after undergoing a double-hernia operation, Page retired from the Wiggles and was replaced by Sam Moran. The latter part of the decade saw even more growth for the group's brand with expansions into Wiggles-themed sections in amusement parks and a partnership with the PBS Kids Sprout network. In 2012, the Wiggles announced it would be the last year of touring for founding members Page, Cook, and Fatt. The ensemble continued, however, with Field remaining alongside new members Lachlan Gillespie, Simon Pryce, and the first female Wiggle, Emma Watkins. The Wiggles 2.0 were an instant success, releasing a string of award-winning specials and albums, including Taking Off (2013), Apples & Bananas (2014), Rock & Roll Preschool (2015), and Wiggle Town (2016). ~ Brendan Swift