The Troggs frontman Reg Presley dies aged 71

'Wild Thing' and 'Love Is All Around' hitmaker had lung cancer

Reg Presley, singer with ‘Wild Thing’ hitmakers The Troggs, has died at the age of 71.

Presley died at his home in Andover, Hampshire – the town of his birth – from cancer yesterday (February 4), in the company of his family. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in December 2012 during a tour of Germany, and is reported to have had a number of strokes before the diagnosis, according to messages posted by music publicist and close friend Keith Altham.

Last month (January 24), Presley posted a statement to fans on the band’s website, in which he announced his retirement from music due to failing health. “I am receiving chemotherapy treatment and at the moment not feeling too bad. However I’ve had to call time on The Troggs and retire. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for the cards and calls and for your love, loyalty and support over the years… I shall miss you all. Lots of Love.”

Presley – born Reginald Maurice Ball – formed The Troggs in 1964. The band were signed by Kinks manager Larry Page the following year. Their signature song, ‘Wild Thing’, reached Number Two in the charts in 1966, though the lesser-known follow-up, ‘With A Girl Like You’, gave them their first and only UK Number One. Though they split in 1969, The Troggs soon reunited and remained a group until Presley’s announcement last month. Despite this, life within the band was not always rosy – the notorious ‘Troggs Tapes’, an expletive-ridden recording of the band arguing in the studio, put the Gallagher brothers’ similar ‘Wibbling Rivalry’ to shame.

In 1994, Wet Wet Wet’s cover of Presley’s 1967 song ‘Love Is All Around’ (for the Four Weddings And A Funeral soundtrack) gave them the second longest-running UK Number One to date, remaining on the top spot for 15 consecutive weeks. Presley is reported to have used the royalties from the single to pursue his interest in crop circles and UFOs. The paranormal was a great passion of Presley’s – he published a book on the subject titled Wild Things They Don’t Tell Us in 2002. Presley also had a sideline in acting, appearing in TV’s Inspector Wexford.

Presley’s pop-meets-garage rock sound is said to have been an influence on artists as diverse as The Ramones, Iggy Pop, REM and Jimi Hendrix, who covered ‘Wild Thing’ at 1967’s Monterey Pop Festival. On Twitter, former Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham wrote, “R.I.P. Reg Presley of The Troggs. A long time served in the rock trenches. Always innovative.”