For them, the current international tour is a farewell jaunt. But the show will go on for the Australian band; Field will stay on as the blue Wiggle, and new performers will don the red, yellow, and purple Wiggles shirts.
Philadelphia-area fans can say goodbye to Cook (red), Fatt (purple), and Page (yellow), and meet their replacements - Lachlan Gillespie, Simon Pryce, and Emma Watkins, the first female Wiggle - when the band comes to Upper Darby's Tower Theater on Saturday. For some, it will be an emotional experience.
Julie Baker's three sons, ages 13, 10, and 8, have been listening to the Wiggles for most of their lives. Her younger boys, who are both autistic, have a special connection to the band. The first words Baker ever heard her son Aidan speak were "fruit salad yummy yummy" as he sang along with a Wiggles tune. Every morning, Aidan and his little brother, Kieran, wake up and turn on a Wiggles video. They press the rewind button so they can hear their favorite songs over and over.
"It's these kids' Beatles," Baker said. Of Aidan, she added, "He's got weight issues, he's got social issues, he's got language issues. Watching him sing and dance to the Wiggles, it kind of gives him a little normalcy sometimes. He's just a kid."
Aidan enjoyed a Wiggles concert five years ago, and Baker hopes to bring both boys to the farewell concert this weekend.
Another mother who might be in the audience is Jill Dowdy. When her 2-year-old son Connor, an enthusiastic Wiggles fan, was going through leukemia treatment at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia a decade ago, she got a surprise package in the mail - a stack of Wiggles videotapes and an autographed poster. To this day, she does not know who told the Wiggles about her son's illness.
Connor is now 13, healthy, and too cool to go to the Wiggles' concert with his mother. She's considering going anyway.
"I kind of feel a connection with them. . . . I feel like I should go to this show," she said. "I'm glad that they are replacing them and that they're going to keep doing their thing, but they'll never be the real Wiggles."
The three retiring "real Wiggles" will stay involved in the band behind the scenes. For years, all four men have independently written music and lyrics for the group, then worked out final versions of the songs together in their Sydney studio. That collaborative songwriting process will continue.
Retiring from a grueling performance schedule that often involved eight months of travel a year and two to four shows a day will allow Cook, 52, to spend more time with his two teenage children and Fatt, 59, and Page, 40, to deal with health problems. Page left the band in 2006 due to poor health but returned this year.
Three of the men met at Australia's Macquarie University, where they were studying early childhood education. When they became preschool teachers, they also decided to become children's entertainers, forming the Wiggles in 1991 with Fatt, who had previously played in a rock band with Field.
In 1993, they quit teaching to record and perform full-time. Since then, the Wiggles have become a beloved international preschoolers' phenomenon. They've seen the creation of Wiggles World theme park attractions, had days named in their honor in Louisiana and New York City, and been appointed to the Order of Australia. Their TV shows air in more than 100 countries.
The eight-month farewell tour has taken them to Singapore, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand before hitting the United States, Canada, and finally their native Australia. Each show has been emotional for the performers and the fans alike.
"This might be hard to believe," said Field, 49, "but we've seen adults crying in the audience, because their children have grown up with the Wiggles and they're so connected to the Wiggles because it reminds them of a more innocent time with their children."
Cook said children have been excited to meet the new Wiggles at the concerts this summer. "I'm just really proud that this thing that we've created hopefully is going to continue for many years," he said.
Contact Julie Zauzmer at 215-854-5289 or email@example.com.Music
The Wiggles Live!
11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Tower Theatre, 69th and Ludlow Streets, Upper Darby. 610-352-2887; www.livenation.com