No More "Wild Thing" For the Troggs

Lonesome, Onry and Mean was sad to learn via Chuck Prophet's Facebook page this morning that Reg Presley, lead singer of Sixties proto-punkers the Troggs, has been diagnosed with lung cancer.

The Troggs are known primarily for their 1966 hit "Wild Thing." LOM was a sophomore in high school when the tune came blaring out of the speakers of the car radio and rocked our world. It seemed that within a week every rock station in the country was playing "Wild Thing" once an hour. It was literally everywhere.

The band went on to record poppy-er material that also did well in the charts; "Love Is All Around" was another radio smash, and the band also scored with "With A Girl Like You," the rocking "Any Way That You Want Me," "I Can't Control Myself," and "Night of the Long Grass."

But by 1969, the Troggs were gone. Managed by Kinks' honcho Larry Page, the band seemed to waste the opportunity that "Wild Thing" provided by not touring the U.S. until almost two years after "Wild Thing" had thrust them into the public spotlight.

"Wild Thing," written by Chip Taylor, was later covered by Jimi Hendrix, who included it in his sets frequently. Hendrix ended his historic set at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 with "Wild Thing," afterwards kneeling over his guitar, dousing it with lighter fluid, and setting the instrument on fire.

The Troggs made several attempts at reforming, but they never found the right formula for other hits. They did travel to Athens, Georgia in 1991 to record Athens Andover (the band is from Andover, England) with three members of R.E.M.

Presley announced his retirement due to health problems earlier this week, effectively ending the Troggs.

Prophet, an avid collector of all things proto-punk and garage rock, noted on his Facebook page this morning, "I've asked Shayde and I've asked Kelley and I've asked Henry over at Open Mind, 'Why is it so hard to find used Troggs records?' Well, for good reason. People just don't sell them after they buy them. They take them to the grave. Leave 'em for their kids. Reg is sick. He needs your prayers."

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The Troggs were a big influence on me when I started writing songs for Vivian Pikkles, we even did a cover of "I Want You" for the first few months. This is really sad news. :(

Jensen Lee
Jensen Lee

Sad to hear the news about Reg Presley. While the Troggs pioneered Neanderthal rock with 1966’s “Wild Thing,” the song was first written by Chip Taylor for the Wild Ones, the house band of Sybil Burton’s NYC discotheque Arthur. On request, Taylor took three hours to write, record and deliver a demo of the song, complete with a whistling interlude by an engineer. The Wild Ones’ version suffered from too much orchestration and died a quick death. Rockaeology at tells how the Reg Presley discovered the demo in London and reinstated the primitive sound of Taylor’s original, substituted an ocarina for the whistling and hit number one in a few weeks.


And we all know that Chip Taylor's brother is Jon Voight thus his niece is Angelina Jolie.  Must have been some interesting family reunions ...

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