Music / The Shaggs

"Oh, the rich people want what the poor people's got
And the poor people want what the rich people's got
And the skinny people want what the fat people's got
And the fat people want what the skinny people's got
You can never please anybody in this world!"
The mother of a young Austin Wiggin Jr. had three visions. 1) he would marry a strawberry blonde woman, 2) that he would have two sons after she passed away, and 3) that his daughters would one day form a pop group. The first two came true. A determined Austin set out to make that third vision a reality.

He withdrew his daughters, Helen, Dorothy, Betty & Rachel, from school, bought them instruments and set them up with music and voice lessons, and had the girls practice playing their instruments for a good five years straight. Austin went so far as to book them to play on Saturday nights at the Fremont, New Hampshire Town Hall, but their ineptitude at playing only resulted in the other kids picking on them. Undeterred, Austin booked a single day at the Fleetwood Recordings studio, where it became abundantly clear to the befuddled engineer that the girls weren't ready to record. Austin reportedly replied "I want to get them while they're hot." The end result, such as it is, was named Philosophy Of The World.

The Shaggs had an unusual approach at making pop music. Not only did their instruments sound blatantly out of tune, but their limited ability caused each member's individual performance to seemingly follow its own time signature. Each individual note matched up to every syllable they sang, and, in general, it all added up to what the average person would hear as a lot of disorganized sound. Despite all this, the band have developed a small cult following as well as some good reviews over the years (amongst them being no less than Lester Bangs, Kurt Cobain and Frank Zappa), with many praising the honesty and humanism of their lyrical content. Nowadays they are seen as a prime example of Outsider Music.

The band did have a second recording session in 1975, where, amongst other songs, they did a cover of "Yesterday Once More" by the Carpenters. The sessions never materialized into a full album, as the sessions - and the band itself - were aborted after Austin Wiggin passed away from a heart attack.

Helen, the drummer, took her own life in 2006. An off-Broadway musical about their life was created and ran in in New York City in the early 2010s. Dot Wiggin released a solo album on Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles label in 2013.

In 2017, it was announced that the surviving members of the Shaggs - Dot, Berry and Rachel - would reunite at Wilco's Solid Sound Festival.

They have not gone unnoticed by That Other Wiki.

Tropes featured in their careers & music include: