Reg Presley, "Wild Thing" Singer, Dies [VIDEO]: The Troggs Lead Singer Dies of Lung Cancer at 71

By Jon Niles | Feb 05, 2013 09:17 AM EST
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Reg Presley, who is best known as the singer of the iconic song "Wild Thing," has passed away at the age of 71 years old after battling lung cancer for over a year. According to his friend and agent, Keith Altham, the lead singer of The Troggs suffered a series of strokes and passed away at his home in Andover, England, surrounded by family and friends. Presley's death came just over a year after he released this retirement announcement on The Troggs' website after being struck ill on stage:

"As you all know I was taken ill whilst doing a gig in Germany in December. During my stay in hospital tests showed that in fact I have lung cancer. 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."

This marked the end of the legendary garage rock group's 49-years of performing together and the start of Presley's deterioration.

Reg was born Reg Ball (changed to Presley upon the request of the band's manager) grew up in Andover and founded The Troggs in 1964. Only two years later, their cover of "Wild Thing" reached number 2 on the U.K. charts and number 1 on the United States charts. Though it was a cover, not many people realize it was performed by a since-forgotten Jordan Christopher & The Wild Ones and The Troggs quickly became the act associated with the song. The Troggs were part of the British invasion with other acts like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Kinks. Reg and his band had more of a straightforward approach to song writing and delivery as opposed to the Beatles' poetic method. Just like fellow "invaders" The Kinks, The Troggs are credited as garage rock pioneers and a main influence of punk rock. Artists such as Iggy Pop, The Ramones, and The Buzzcocks have talked about The Troggs' impact on their musical styles and have even incorporated some of the band's songs into live performances. Including "Wild Thing," The Troggs's "With a Girl Like You" and "Love is All Around" earned the band gold records for each selling over 1 million copies. The Troggs continued to tour and play concerts at admittedly more "intimate" venues over the years until Presley's illness and departure in 2012.

Aside for music, Reg Presley was a strong believer in the paranormal. With his music royalties, he researched and released a book on crop circles entitled The Wild Things They Don't Tell You in 2002.

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