February 4, 2013 – Reg Presley (The Troggs) was born Reginald Maurice Ball on 12 June 1941, was the lead singer with the 1960s British rock and roll band The Troggs, whose best known hit was “Wild Thing”, written by actor Jon Voight’s brother Wes (James Wesley) who went by the stage name Chip Taylor.
Presley, whose stage name was given to him in 1965 by the New Musical Express journalist and publicist Keith Altham, was born in Andover, Hampshire He joined the building trade on leaving school and became a bricklayer. He kept at this occupation until “Wild Thing” reached the top 10 on the UK Singles Chart in 1966.
Wild Thing made it to no.2 in England, but reached no.1 in the US as it sold 13 million copies worldwide. Presley then wrote the band’s only UK number one single with the follow-up “With a Girl Like You”. He also wrote the song “Love Is All Around”, which was featured in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. Other hits from their short-lived career (1965-1968) were ‘ I can’t control myself’ and ‘Anyway that you want me’.
The Troggs are widely seen as a highly influential band whose sound was an inspiration for garage rock and punk rock. Influential American critic Lester Bangs “called the band the progenitors of punk”, according to NPR. For example, the Troggs influenced artists such as Iggy Pop and the early version of British pop-punk pioneers Buzzcocks featured “I Can’t Control Myself” in their live repertoire. The Ramones are also amongst punk bands who cited the Troggs as an influence. “I Can’t Control Myself” is perhaps the most enduring favorite of critics; it continues to be championed for its originality and lasting influence by radio hosts such as “Little” Steven Van Zandt.
MC5 covered “I Want You” at their live shows and recorded the song for the album Kick Out the Jams, although they renamed it “I Want You Right Now”.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience famously covered “Wild Thing” during their appearance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, introducing it as the British/American joint “national anthem”, and climaxing with Hendrix burning his guitar.
More recently performing a live version of Wild Thing featuring Queen guitarist, Brian May to open the rockers ‘Wildlife Rocks’ event at Guildford Cathedral in May 2014.
In 1990, the first hit for the band Spiritualized was a cover of “Anyway That You Want Me”. This cover was later used in the movie Me and You and Everyone We Know.
“With a Girl Like You” is featured uncut in a school dance scene from the 1991 Nicole Kidman/Noah Taylor movie, Flirting. It is also featured in Shine, The Good Night and The Boat That Rocked.
In 1991, “Love Is All Around” was covered by R.E.M. during live performances and was released later that year as a B-side on their “Radio Song” single. They also performed an acoustic version of the song on MTV Unplugged.
In 1994, Scottish band Wet Wet Wet’s version of Love Is All Around spent fifteen weeks at number one in the UK after its inclusion in Four Weddings and a Funeral. The authorship royalties enabled Reg Presley’s 1990s research and publication on extraterrestrials and other paranormal phenomena.
The point-and-click adventure game Hopkins FBI features “I Can’t Control Myself” and “Lost Girl”.
A modified version of “Love Is All Around” was featured in the film Love Actually (2003), performed by actor Bill Nighy.
“The Troggs” was the name of the high school gang in the movie Bang Bang, You’re Dead, who persuade the main character to join them in attacking their high school.
“Trogg” is the name of one of Bane’s three henchmen in Dennis O’Neil’s Batman: Knightfall comic arc. The other henchmen are Byrd and Zombie, named after two other popular ’60s rock bands, the Byrds and the Zombies.
An in-studio tape of Reg Presley’s running commentary on a recording session, filled with in-fighting and swearing (known as The Troggs Tapes), was widely circulated in the music underground, and was included in the Archaeology box set, as well as the compilation album, The Rhino Brothers Present the World’s Worst Records. The in-group infighting is believed to be the inspiration for a scene in the comedy film, This is Spinal Tap, where the band members are arguing. Some of this dialogue was sampled by the California punk band The Dwarves on their recording of a cover version of the Troggs song “Strange Movies”.
Such was the influence Reg Presley and the Troggs had on Rock and Roll.
In December 2011, Reg Presley was hospitalised in Winchester, Hampshire, with what was suspected to be a stroke. He was also suffering from pneumonia and fluid around the heart. Presley had suffered a major stroke about a year before. His wife said he first began to feel bad while performing in Germany on 3 December 2011 and had got progressively worse.
he following month, Presley announced he had been diagnosed with lung cancer and therefore decided to retire from the music industry Just over a year later, on 4 February 2013, Presley died from this cancer.