Type: All-girl band
Genre: Garage Rock, Outsider Music
Origin: Fremont, New Hampshire
Years active: 1968-1975
Reason for Break-Up: Their father died.
Members: Dorothy Wiggin, Helen Wiggin, Betty Wiggin, Rachel Wiggin
Most known songs: My Pal Foot-Foot, It’s Halloween, Philosophy of the World
Trademark: Being amazingly inept yet strangely charming
Discography Type: Very small and easy to follow
The Shaggs are an all girl rock band known for making perhaps some of the worst music on the planet. However, there's something strangely appealing about their music, despite the fact that in normal circumstances it would be the exact opposite of appealing.
Anyway, The Shaggs were founded around the mid-60's when their father, Austin Wiggin, decided to fulfill a prophecy made by his mother (the prophecy was that his daughters would become a famous rock band). Austin Wiggin forced his girls out of school, gave them instruments, and set them up for music lessons. Eventually, they were able to get Saturday Night gigs at the Fremont, New Hampshire Town Hall. Eventually, they set off to a studio in Revere, Massachusetts to record their first album, Philosophy of the World.
The album is like nothing you have ever heard before. The drummer is completely off rhythm, the guitars sound amazingly cheesy and out of tune, and the vocals strain like crazy. It is both an endurance test and a load of fun.
Anyway, after the album was finished, 900 out of the 1000 copies originally pressed disappeared (along with the sleazy producer). Several years later, in 1975, The Shaggs went into the studio for one last recording session that ended with the death of Austin Wiggin, who died of a heart attack. That was the end of the band.
However, Philosophy of the World soon gained a cult following, with Kurt Cobain putting the album in the number 5 spot of his favorite 50 albums list and Frank Zappa saying it was his third favorite album ever. In fact, Terry Adams and Tom Ardolino of NRBQ loved the album so much they got Rounder Records to reissue the album and had the band open up for them in their 30th anniversary concert. But that’s not all. In fact, there’s even a stage musical about the band and their story called Philosophy of the World, and a movie just might be made of their story. There was also a tribute album, Better than the Beatles, that was released.
And that’s the Shaggs in a nutshell. If you want to listen to them, go to Amazon.com or the iTunes music store and listen to the samples. See if they’re your thing. Before you listen to them, though, I must warn you: they’re not for everyone, and you’re either going to be left amazed or traumatized from the sound samples. Listen to at your own risk.
The Shaggs are one of my favorite bands.