Giving new meaning to the song “Where’s Jeff?,” children’s megastar pop group, The Wiggles, has announced that three of its founding members will retire shortly. The departing wiggles are Jeff Fatt (Purple Wiggle), Murray Cook (the Red Wiggle), and Greg Page (the Yellow Wiggle). Mr. Page had left the Australian singing group previously due to illness, replaced by New Unappreciated Yellow Wiggle Sam Moran, but then returned to his rightful place as The One Original Yellow Wiggle earlier this year.
This leaves Blue Wiggle Anthony Field (also commonly known as The Hot Wiggle), as the only remaining founding member. The Wiggles are bringing in fresh replacements, who presumably are younger and still having the energy to flail about on stage to the amusement of frenzied preschoolers whose parents have ponied up the big bucks for a ticket. (Ticket prices for the 2012 Farewell Tour at the location nearest me are currently going for $126-$209 per seat on ticketsnow.com.)
Frankly, I haven’t been this devastated since George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley put away their short-shorts and ended the run of Wham! in 1986.
Australian news outlets are reporting much drama and gossip from behind the scenes.
Perth Now reports that “a Wiggles insider says public outrage over the way former Yellow Wiggle Moran had been treated by the group had ‘sucked all the life out of it’ for Jeff Fatt and Murray Cook.”
I wish I was a Wiggles insider. Can you imagine? Having the inside dope on the world of the Wiggles? How awesome.
The “insider” also told Perth Now that The Wiggles were rocked by the public scrutiny and ill-will they faced when Wait-Thats-Not-the-Real-Yellow Wiggle Sam Moran was dumped over a pay dispute in January.
Perth Now also notes that Greg Page continues to struggle with health issues, and health problems were also a deciding factor for Jeff Fatt. Mr. Fatt, 58, underwent heart surgery last year for a pacemaker to be installed, and performs in a back brace to deal with constant pain. Murray Cook, 51, just wants to spend more time with his family and also presumably can’t take belting out “Big Red Car” one more damn time.
The Sydney Morning Herald also made references to the unceremonious dumping of Sam Moran as a factor in The Wiggles’ drama.
“In an excruciating interview on the Today show,” reports the Herald, “Field’s fun-guy facade could not conceal the callousness of his attitude towards Moran. Asked how Moran had taken the news, he answered, ‘I haven’t spoken to him so I don’t know.'”
The Telegraph reveals that the three replacement Wiggles include (gasp!) a female. Emma Watkins, 20, will become the New Yellow Wiggle, soon to be known as Dad’s Favorite Wiggle. Ms. Watkins is currently a back-up dancer for the group, and has served in such key roles as Wags the Dog and Dorothy the Dinosaur. To give you a sense of scope, Ms. Watkins has said that she’s been a huge fan of the Wiggles since she was a little girl.
We should note that although Ms. Watkins is the first official female Wiggle, Australian pop star Kylie Minogue was made an honorary Pink Wiggle in 2009. There are also female Wiggles that perform in international versions of the Wiggles, all of whom are approved by the original Australian group.
The other two replacement Wiggles are Lachlan Gillespe (the New Purple Wiggle) and Simon Pryce (the New Red Wiggle). Mr. Gillespe, 26, (referred to as “Lachy” in the official bio released by the Wiggles) will be known as The Wiggle That Supplanted Anthony As Hottest Wiggle, and has previously served as Wags the Dog and as a Wiggly Dancer. Mr. Pryce, 40, will be known as The Surprisingly Old New Wiggle, and has performed with the Wiggles as Ringo the Ringmaster.
Here’s the Wiggles’ official announcement video:
(Photo Credit: Kristi Miller)