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The Wiggles Rock! (Just Ask Your Kids)

If you haven't heard of The Wiggles yet, ask your kids. Just say the words "fruit salad," and if they respond "yummy yummy," they already know the popular Australian export.

The four-piece rock band has long been a household word down under. In the past 15 years, they have sold millions of CDs aimed at the preschool set, and their parents. And good news for the parents: The Wiggles tunes won't drive you crazy -- at least, not right away.

"First and foremost, we're entertainers," says band member Greg Page about the group's popularity among younger children. "We get their interest by entertaining, and then we educate once we've got their attention."

And entertain they do. At a recent concert in Los Angeles, they had the children in the crowd laughing and singing along. Their songs lace the fun with educational messages, like the importance of eating fruit and looking both ways before crossing the street.

The origin of The Wiggles stretches back to the 1980s, when Anthony Field and Jeff Fatt -- aka Blue and Purple Wiggle -- were members of the popular Australian band The Cockroaches. The group had a string of platinum hits, but then Field suddenly quit the band and went back to college to study early childhood development.

In college, Field met Murray Cook and Greg Page -- aka Red and Yellow Wiggle -- and for fun, the three began doing songs and skits at birthday parties and preschool functions. Fatt came on board a while later, and the new band began to take off. It wasn't as big of a transition as some would think, Field says.

"The Wiggles music isn't all that far removed from what we did in The Cockroaches, just a different subject matter," he says. "The Cockroaches sing about girls and love and stuff like that; The Wiggles sing about hot potatoes and cold spaghetti."

Since 1991, Wiggles CDs, videos, magazines, games, books -- even action figures -- have all sold in the millions. Their onstage and onscreen cast has also grown to include fun-loving characters like Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog and the ever-so-dashing Captain Feathersword. Their TV show, long a hit in Australia, airs 17 times a week on the Disney Channel. And when their live show tours the globe, they're treated like rock stars.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rob Sachs
Rob Sachs is a director on the NPR news and talk show Tell Me More and hosts the podcast "What Would Rob Do?" (WWRD).