Murray James Cook, AM (born 30 June 1960) is an Australian vocalist, songwriter, musician, and guitarist. He is best known as one of the founding members of the children's band The Wiggles. Cook was also a regular guest on the Australian TV show Spicks and Specks, with his good friend, host Adam Hills.
Early musical projects
Cook played the guitar in the late 1980s bands The Transistors and Finger Guns before joining the Sydney-based band Bang Shang a Lang. (He continued to play for Bang Shang a Lang in Sydney, when not on tour with The Wiggles.)
When things did not work out in the music field for Cook, he returned to university and studied early childhood education at Macquarie University, where he met Anthony Field and Greg Page and formed The Wiggles in 1991. Cook worked as a preschool teacher for two years before the success of The Wiggles forced him to quit. According to Field, Cook would have been content to "continue teaching and perhaps move into an academic role in the field. He knows his stuff and is simply great with children".
Cook's schtick in The Wiggles was an obsession with playing the guitar. He was conscious that he was probably the first guitarist children would see, and said, "I always think that if it inspires kids to play guitar later on that would be great. I think it would be really nice if in 15 years I read that somebody got into guitar playing because of the Wiggles. I know that would be fantastic." When asked what his favorite Wiggles song was, he stated, "'Play your guitar with Murray,' of course. When we play that song live I get to play like a rock 'n roll star." Guitar Magazine speculated that since Cook was one of the first guitarists children were exposed to, he may be the most influential guitarist in the world.
Cook's major musical influences are The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Eric Clapton. In 2008, Cook was named "the sixth best guitarist in Australia". Cook owns a collection of thirty vintage guitars. Onstage, he uses the Australian made Maton Mastersound 500 guitar. He also plays a '53 Gibson Les Paul gold top, '64 Fender Strat, James Burton Fender Telecaster, Maton Mastersound 500 and a more recent Les Paul at home or in the studio. The amplifiers he uses are the Marshall Head and Box Combo, the Fender Twin and a Bad Cat, which he bought while in the U.S. and said had a "great sound."
As a member of the Wiggles, Cook wore a red skivvy and served as an instrumentalist and vocalist. He was considered the intellectual and analytical member of the group (something referred to in several episodes of their TV show), so he acted as mediator for their group decisions. When The Wiggles received honorary degrees from the Australian Catholic University, Cook gave the commencement speech to the graduates.
Cook, whose nickname is "Muzz", or "Muzza", came up with The Wiggles' signature index finger-wagging move after watching professional bowlers do the move on television.
On 17 May 2012, it was announced that Cook, along with Greg Page and Jeff Fatt, would be retiring at the end of the year. He was replaced by Wiggles cast member Simon Pryce. Cook and the others expected to remain involved with the creative and production aspects of the group. In 2013, Cook became the group's tour manager.
Cook was born in Cowra, New South Wales. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia on 26 January 2010 for service to the arts, particularly children's entertainment, and to the community as a benefactor and supporter of a range of charities. After his retirement from The Wiggles, Cook continued to be heavily involved in the Sydney music scene; in addition to playing for Bang Shang A Lang and Marlene Cummins, he was the guitarist for Luke Russell and The Proposition and was involved in the production of the play Sons of Sun, which was about American music producer Sam Phillips, and regularly played in pubs to small audiences. "The other thing I find really rewarding," he stated, "is when guys like one of the members from Regular John will come up to you and say that The Wiggles were the first band they got into".