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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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William Michael Smith