The Shaggs

The Shaggs are one of the more bizarre blips in music history.  The band consisted of three sisters, Dorothy “Dot” Wiggin, Betty Wiggin, and Helen Wiggin, who were forced into the industry by their nutcase father, Austin Wiggin.  You see he had his palm read by his mother and she made three predictions, the last of which was that his children would form a pop band. Since the first two predictions came true, their pop decided to take fate into his own hands by taking his three daughters out of school, buying them instruments and having them form the band in 1968.  Genius!

Despite being forced into it, the girls claim to have enjoyed their musical slavery. The next few years consisted of a few hours of schoolwork from a mail-order company, morning music practice, afternoon music practice and gymnastics.  In 1969 they released their only studio album, “Philosophy of The World,” which garnered no attention whatsoever.  In fact, the record’s producer ran away with 900 of the 1000 pressed copies – apparently later claiming: “Shock therapy and all the Prozac in the world would never stop the haunting sounds of these banshees.”

After their father died in 1975 the girls escaped their six stringed shackles and moved on with their lives. But in 1980 their album was discovered at a Boston radio station and they became moderately famous and admired for their “innovation”. Here were three teens playing instruments we’ve heard countless times, but this time with none of the familiar signposts – none of the standard rhythms or chord progressions we’ve come to recognize and expect.  In fact, the band is primarily notable today for their perceived ineptitude at playing conventional rock music having been described by Rolling Stone for “…sounding like lobotomized Trapp Family singers.”   They are considered groundbreakers in the field of outsider music. Kurt Cobain and Frank Zappa have cited “Philosophy of The World” as a major influence, with Zappa claiming the band are “better than The Beatles.”  Hmmm … not so sure about that one, What do you think?!

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