Reg Presley, the frontman of the 1960s British group The Troggs, which flirted with a sound between garage, mod, and an even quasi-flower power sound, has died at the age of 71 after a long successive battle with lung cancer reports BBC.com.
The Troggs were slightly more than just a curio of the kind of bands of a certain type of ilk, bands that were immortalized as one, two or three hit wonders and collected on American collections such as the famed “Nuggets” series, or sundry versions of “Best of the ’60s” collections. While they never really made a huge impact in this country, they did have the good fortune to be remembered as the band who did the successful cover of the legendary song “Wild Thing,” which was written by an American, (Chip Taylor, whose real name is James Voight and is the brother of the famous actor Jon) and became a number one smash for the band, in July of 1966, helped strongly by the raucous vocalizing of Reg Presley. The stop start rhythmic patterns of the song, sort of an electric derivative of Bo Diddley’s musical musings, is still regarded as a highlight of the song catalog to come from the 1960s. The song itself has been covered by artists as diverse as Jimi Hendrix, Amanda Lear, The Runaways, and even Sam Kinison, who used his unapologetic style and banshee wailing to full effect on his version of the tune.
The follow up singles by The Troggs, “With A Girl Like You” (with Presley’s “ba-ba-ba” vocal suffixes) and the Presley composition that propelled him and the band to the top of the UK charts in their native country, “Love is All Around,” was an irresistible slice of lemon meringue naïve hippie pop music, which was also covered years later by the Scottish pop band Wet Wet Wet, to almost equal success. The royalties from “Love is All Around” enabled Presley to fund research into one of his passions, researching crop circles and UFO’s of all things, and also was able to fund his autobiography, published in 2002 and entitled, Wild Things They Don’t Tell Us.
In recent times before he died, Presley had still been touring as a well-remembered musical artifact from the era in which he shaped his career, and had kept in touch in a cyber sense with his long time and contemporary fans around the world, via the Troggs’ website. It was there that he first revealed that he had contracted the lung cancer which took his life on February 4th.
Another unsung musician takes his final bow today with the passing of Reg Presley. RIP Reg, thanks for the cool sounds and as you intone in “Wild Thing,” one of those types of songs that will endure forever, what do you did best was “make our hearts sing.”