From left, Peter Staples, Reg Presley, Ronnie Bond and Chris Britton of the Troggs, who were first named the Troglodytes.
Reg Presley, a bricklayer-turned-singer whose ebulliently lusty vocal on the Troggs’ smash hit “Wild Thing” helped elevate the song to rock ’n’ roll legend, died on Monday at his home in Andover, England. He was 71.
His agent, Keith Altham, said Mr. Presley, who had lung cancer, died after a series of strokes.
“Wild thing, you make my heart sing,” Mr. Presley rasped in a voice that spoke as much as sang as the song grew more suggestive:
Wild thing, I think you move me
But I wanna know for sure.
So come on and hold me tight.
(Pause) You move me.
A paean to teenage lust, the recording sold five million copies for the Troggs after its release in 1966 and inspired the coming wave of heavy metal and punk rockers with its straight-ahead three-chord simplicity The lead guitar lines have provided inspiration for artists from Jimi Hendrix to Bruce Springsteen to garage bands everywhere.
It was the song’s sheer sensuality, propelled by Mr. Presley’s growl, that stirred listeners. John Rockwell of The New York Times wrote in 1975 that the Troggs, whom he characterized as “cave-man primitive,” were “everything mothers feared their darlings would fall for or turn into.”
“Wild Thing” reached No. 1 in the United States, the only time this would happen for the Troggs. (It got as high as No. 2 in Britain.) Rolling Stone ranked their rendition of the song, written by Chip Taylor, 261st on its list of the 500 greatest songs.
The group’s success in the United States was limited by a dispute between record companies over rights, and by the fact that the band did not do an American tour early on. In Britain, they had hits with “With a Girl Like You” (No. 1) and “I Can’t Control Myself” (No. 2), both in 1966. Their “Love Is All Around” was No. 5 in Britain in 1967 and No. 7 in the United States in 1968. Mr. Presley wrote all three.
An argument the group had in the studio in 1968 over how to approach a song was secretly recorded and leaked to the music underground, which loved it — partly for its effusive profanity and partly for a band member’s lyrical insistence that only a sprinkling of “fairy dust” made hits. The tape was included in the group’s 1992 compilation album, “Archaeology (1967-1977).”
The Troggs attracted new attention in 1994, when the Scottish band Wet Wet Wet recorded “Love Is All Around.” That version topped the British singles chart and appeared in the movie “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”
Reginald Maurice Ball was born on June 12, 1941, in Andover. His father drove first milk trucks and then buses, and his mother ran a cafe. He left school at 15 to work as bricklayer. He met a young woman named Brenda at a dance when he was 20 and asked her to marry him. She did, 18 months later. She survives him, as do their children, Karen and Jason.
His start in music was inauspicious, as he quickly discovered he could not play guitar. His family went on welfare as his group, originally called the Troglodytes, scrambled for work. His manager changed his last name to Presley, but forgot to tell him. He found out by reading a magazine.
Mr. Presley was fascinated by extraterrestrial phenomena like flying saucers and crop circles and wrote a book about them. He claimed to have personally seen 14 U.F.O.’s, though he acknowledged that some of his sightings were “iffy.”
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