Reg Presley, lead singer of The Troggs and the voice behind the best-known version of the rock classic, “Wild Thing,” died on Monday at his home in England. Presley, who was 71, had been battling cancer for the past year.
The Troggs catapulted to fame in 1966, when “Wild Thing” topped the charts in the U.S. and reached No. 2 in Britain. Written by American songwriter Chip Taylor, the song became a staple for garage bands and was famously covered later by Jimi Hendrix. The Troggs scored more hits in the ‘60s, especially in England, where tracks like “With a Girl Like You” and “I Can’t Control Myself” were smash singles. Those songs, as well as the band’s 1967 U.S. hit, “Love is All Around,” were written by Presley.
In a 2007 interview with Gibson.com, Taylor expressed his affection for The Troggs’ version of his classic rocker. “’Wild Thing’ was such an overt expression of sexuality that I was a little embarrassed …,” he said, “but the publisher sent it over to England, and The Troggs’ version was the last song they recorded for their session on that particular day. I love their record. A lot of people don’t understand just how great that record is. When Jimi Hendrix heard it in England, he said it was the best thing he had ever heard. What Jimi did to the song was wonderful, but he was very inspired by The Troggs’ version.”