Today Matt Welcomes Anthony Field, the founder of the mega-popular children’s band The Wiggles.
There are some interviews that leave me a bit nervous heading into them. For some reason, those interviews typically have to do with childhood nostalgia. I don’t know why. But if I get the chance to talk to someone who was an integral part of my growing up, it strikes a chord. Don’t get me wrong, I am a professional. I relax into it right away. But it’s like bracing yourself for the roller coaster that looks scarier than it is. Then you take the risk, get on it, and are better for challenging yourself!
This was one of those interviews. I am beyond humbled, honored, and consider myself and this show incredibly lucky to welcome Anthony Field, founding member–really, the founder–of The Wiggles, the mega-popular children’s music group.
This is year 28 for the Toddler Rock band. The “Beatles for Preschoolers” has seen a few line-up changes. The original, and by all accounts the most recognizable to my generation and our parents consisted of singer Greg Page (Yellow Wiggle), Keyboardist–and narcoleptic–Jeff Fatt (Purple Wiggle), Ginger-haired Guitar Vunderkind (and appropriately the Red Wiggle) Murray Cook, and founder, the Blue Wiggle, Anthony Field.
Anthony took his Macquaire University studies in Early Childhood Education and merged those tools with his initial success as a teenage musician in the Australian band The Cockroaches. The marriage of quality music with a strong educational backbone worked–more than Anthony or any Wiggle could have hoped.
After climbing the ladder to massive success in Australia, the Wiggles went back to square one–intentionally–in the United States. Beginning with appearances in malls and Blockbuster Video stores, opening for Barney, and then finally becoming Arena sell-out headliners. It caught on like fire.
After Yellow Wiggle Greg Page fell ill with a rare nervous system disorder called Orthostatic Intolerance–which causes, among other things, fainting spells, Sam Moran stepped in to wear the Yellow Skivvy. And, in 2012, Page, Fatt, and Cook, joined Field for one last hurrah before retiring for good.
And that brings us to today, where Field has ushered in a new era of Wiggly stars. Taking on the role of lead singer and purple wiggle, is Lachlan Gillespie. Operatic Symon Price (also, strangely, redheaded) dons the red skivvy. But the breakout star of the Wiggles has been Emma Watkins, a dancer who donned a yellow bow, and danced her way into children’s hearts everywhere.
When I spoke with Field, he was with his band in New Zealand, where they were on tour at the time. I can honestly say that until this interview, I had never received a phone call from someone halfway around the world. As such–thanks in part to the distance, and in part to NYC’s notoriously difficult cell phone reception–if you hear strange edits, it’s where the call dropped. But Anthony was gracious to call me back every time until the interview concluded.
In our chat, Field gets candid about his health–despite overcoming challenges with weight and energy, which he chronicled in his excellent 2011 memoir How I got my Wiggle Back–Field is still struggling each day with new problems. Plus, he openly compares the success of the Wiggles from the 1990’s versus today and the new lineup. To these new kids, Greg, Jeff, and Murray never existed. To today’s kiddos, They are The Wiggles.
Field and the rest of The Wiggles kick off their US tour in Seattle, Washington today, July 27th. Some dates on this tour are already sold out! They come to venues in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania toward the end of August. Tickets are available at The Wiggles.com.au. But I want this Wiggly episode to go viral now. I hope this chat inspires all you “mums and dads” in the millennial generation to take your children out, see this incredible new lineup, and maybe revisit a little bit of your childhood along with your young ones.
And for those of us adults, if you are wondering what the chances are of the original lineup getting back together for those 18-plus-only Wiggles Pub shows that went infamously viral in Australia, well…you just gotta listen.