Lead singer of The Troggs;
Born: June 12, 1941; Died: February 4, 2013.
Reg Presley, who has died aged 71, was the lead singer of The Troggs whose biggest hit was the swaggering, cocky Wild Thing, although the band will also be remembered for Love Is All Around thanks to a love-it-or-hate-it cover version by Wet Wet Wet that stayed at No 1 for 15 weeks in the 1990s. A recording of The Troggs in the studio, filled with effusive f-words, was also said to be the inspiration for the rock mockumentary Spinal Tap.
Loading article content
Presley (his real name was Reginald Maurice Ball) was born in Andover, Hampshire, and worked as a bricklayer after leaving school. He started the band – named after troglodytes and intended to suggest ruggedness – but it was only when Wild Thing was a hit in 1966 that he gave up building work to concentrate on music.
Despite the later fame of Love Is All Around, it was Wild Thing that became Presley's anthem. Written by the American songwriter Chip Taylor, it topped the charts in the United States and reached No 2 in Britain. It was also covered, by among others, Bruce Springsteen and Jimi Hendrix, who sang it when he famously burned his guitar at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.
Wild Thing was not The Troggs' only hit. There were also Any Way You Want Me, I Can't Control Myself and With a Girl Like You, although the success was concentrated into an intense two years and quickly burned out. Their last hit was in 1967.
A few years later they achieved fame again, of a different kind, when a recording of the band in the studio emerged that was spoofed in Spinal Tap.
The recording made secretly by a studio engineer is filled with the inventive use of one swear word over and over again as the band disagree over how to record a song. Ironically the song was called Tranquility and was never released.
Bootleg copies of the recording became a cult hit. Presley was annoyed by the tape at the time, which he only found out about when someone approached him with it in a pub, but later became resigned to it and the fame, and respect, it brought him.
In fact, that secret recording might have been The Troggs' most famous legacy had it not been for a film called Four Weddings and a Funeral 20 years later and the version of Love Is All Around that Glasgow band Wet Wet Wet recorded for the soundtrack.
The cover version simply would not go away – staying at No 1 for nearly four months – but it was part of a revival of interest in The Troggs (they also recorded an album with REM in the 1990s). The royalties from the new version of Love Is All Around also meant Presley could fund his passion for UFOs and crop circles. He published a book about these interests in 2002 called Wild Things They Don't Tell Us and devoted much of his time in recent years to the investigation of strange phenomena.
In most ways, Presley remained an ordinary man – he never left Andover and lived modestly all his life.
The Troggs had continued to tour all over Europe right up until last year when Presley was diagnosed with lung cancer and had to admit defeat. He had always been a moderate drinker but smoked about 80 cigarettes a day for most of his life.
He and his wife Brenda were married for 49 years. She survives him, with their son and daughter.