The structure is simple, the guitar riffs basic, the lyrics at best inane, but the Troggs' "Wild Thing" remains a garage-rock classic more than 45 years after its 1966 release made the British group and lead singer Reg Presley international stars.
Presley, whose raunchy, suggestive voice powered the paean to teenage lust, died Monday at his Andover, England, home after a yearlong struggle with lung cancer, his agent, Keith Altham, announced. He was 71.
Part of the British invasion spurred by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the Troggs perfected a simple, hard-driving approach to the three-minute rock song that was miles away from the lyrical art-rock of the Beatles. This was rock music at its "boy meets girl" basics, with a caveman's approach to romance.
When the Troggs played the Whisky in West Hollywood in 1980, The Times noted that the concert opened and closed with the main chords of "Wild Thing" and called the song "that stripped-down, leering monstrous classic of demented rock."
"Wild Thing" ranked No. 257 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of 500 greatest songs of all time and became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. It has been covered by hundreds of bands and given a psychedelic spin by Jimi Hendrix.
The song was written by accomplished American songwriter Chip Taylor, whose given name is James Voight. When he asked his brother, Jon Voight, for an assessment, the actor fell on the floor laughing. He then said, "'It's a hit! They won't be able to get it off their tongues.' It was such a fun song," Jon Voight recalled in 2007.
More popular in their native England than in the U.S., the Troggs also found success with the follow-up single "With a Girl Like You" and "Love Is All Around"; the latter reached the top 10 in the U.S. in 1968.
The band faded in the 1970s but continued to perform over the decades to appreciative, if smaller, audiences — including Sting's 1992 wedding reception — until illness intervened early last year.
The Troggs gained renewed attention in the 1990s after R.E.M. covered "Love Is All Around" and a version of the song by the Scottish pop band Wet Wet Wet was featured in the 1994 film "Four Weddings and a Funeral."
Presley was born Reginald Ball near Andover on June 12, 1941, according to British media reports. His father drove milk tankers and buses, and his mother ran a small cafe.
At 15, he left school to work as a bricklayer and met his future wife, Brenda, at a local dance when he was 20.
After they had their first child, his wife suggested he develop a hobby and he turned to music, forming a band called the Croaks. They became the Troggs after they picked up a female hitchhiker who suggested the name "grotty troggs," for the poor state of their van, he said in 2002 in the London Daily Mail.
At the suggestion of his manager, he adopted "Presley" as his last name.
Later in life, Presley developed a strong interest in the paranormal. He had hosted a local cable television show in England called "The Reg Presley UFO Show" and released the 2002 book "Wild Things They Don't Want Us to Know" about unidentified flying objects and crop circles.
Regarding his interest in otherworldly phenomena, Presley told the Daily Mail in 2002: "I'd like to be remembered not as a pop star, but as the man who tried to get this truth across, and then said: I told you so."
His survivors include his wife, a daughter and a son.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times