Reg Presley, frontman with The Troggs, probably best known for their 1966 cover of ‘Wild Thing’, has died aged 71 after losing a battle with lung cancer.
Presley, born Reginald Ball, founded The Troggs in the early 1960s in the Hampshire town of Andover. Signed up by Larry Page, manager of The Kinks, they began releasing singles, initially via Page’s own label in the UK and various record companies in the US. It was arguably their cover of Chip Taylor’s ‘Wild Thing’ that brought the band to mainstream attention, it topping the charts in the US and reaching number two in the UK. Other hits followed, including ‘With A Girl Like You’, ‘I Can’t Control Myself’ and ‘Love Is All Around’.
By the 1970s, and after various members, including Presley, had attempted to launch solo careers, the band’s hit rate started to dwindle, despite temporarily hooking back up with Page for management. They continued to record and tour, though for a time within the music industry were perhaps better known for the infamous Troggs Tapes, a recording of studio chatter which featuring sweary bickering between band members and which, legend has it, inspired at least one scene in the movie ‘Spinal Tap’.
Although they never regained their 1960s height, interest in the band rose again in the 1990s, partly because of a collaboration with REM, and partly because of the Wet Wet Wet cover of the Presley-penned ‘Love Is All Around’, which spent nearly four months at the top of the charts, mainly thanks to the popularity of the film it appeared in, ‘Four Weddings And A Funeral’.
The cover reignited some interest in the band who sang the original, not to mention providing a sizable boost to Presley’s PRS cheques. Presley continued to play live until 2011, when ill-health forced him to retire.
Confirming Presley’s passing, writer and long-term friend of the Troggs frontman, Keith Altham wrote on his Facebook page yesterday: “My dear old pal Reg Presley of The Troggs died today at 1pm surrounded by family and friends at his home in Andover following a succession of recent strokes and a losing battle with cancer. He was one very real person in a sometimes very unreal world. Our thoughts are with his wife Brenda and the family and those legion of fans who loved his music and his band. I will miss him hugely”.
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