A respected "musicians' musician" type, Wiggins has led a few sessions of his own but made his reputation largely by accompanying female jazz-oriented singers, among them Lena Horne, Kay Starr, Eartha Kitt, Helen Humes, Carmen McRae, Linda Hopkins, and Marilyn Monroe (with whom he worked on the film "Let's Fall in Love"). A youthful encounter with Art Tatum's music in New York inspired Wiggins to take up the piano. He backed the comedian Stepin Fetchit, then worked with Les Hite's band in the early '40s.
He also had short stints with Louis Armstrong and Benny Carter in 1944. Wiggins moved to the West Coast and worked with Horne in 1950-51, thus beginning his pattern of working with singers. Wiggins also worked with such prominent male vocalists as Lou Rawls and Nat "King" Cole.
Wiggins has worked extensively in the studios, freelanced, and occasionally led his own bands (usually trios). He also worked with famed composer/arranger Gerald Wilson's West Coast-based big band. In the ‘90s Wiggins replaced the late Nat Pierce in the Frank Capp Juggernaut big band. Wiggins has recorded infrequently as a leader. The albums he made in the ‘50s for the Contemporary, Hifijazz, and Specialty labels were later reissued on the Original Jazz Classics label. He recorded a solo set in 1990 for Concord's Live at Maybeck Recital Hall series, and led a trio date in 1995 that included bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Paul Humphrey. Wiggins' son is bassist J.J. Wiggins. ~ Chris Kelsey