When the song began to get air play in England, the band had not yet turned professional. Lead singer Reg Ball was still working as a brick layer and heard "Wild Thing" being played on the radio at a job site. When the record stopped, the DJ said 'Straight from 44 to 8 this week, Wild Thing by The Troggs.' Reg threw his trowel down and quit his job on the spot. After contacting their manager, the band was told to come to London. It took three months to get a tour organized, during which time, management informed Reg Ball that his new stage name would be Reg Presley. Although he accepted it, he never changed it legally. The Troggs were then sent out on their first U.K. tour with The Walker Brothers.
Although "Wild Thing" was to be the biggest of its career, the band was by no means a one-hit wonder, especially in its home country of England. Songs that hit big in the UK, such as "With a Girl Like You" and "I Can't Control Myself", never fared as well across the Atlantic for a couple of reasons. First, "Wild Thing" was released on two different labels simultaneously in the United States, causing legal troubles for the band. The Troggs also failed to tour America until a couple of years after "Wild Thing" was released. The feel-good tune, "Love Is All Around", from 1968, brought the band back into the ears of Americans as it sailed into the Top 10, landing at #7 early 1968. Despite faltering popularity on both sides of the Atlantic, The Troggs continued to record singles and perform live during the '70s.
Never strangers to controversy, many of their records were considered by the powers that be too suggestive for the masses, and they consequently banned them. How anybody could judge Reg Presley's tongue-in-cheek delivery to be dangerous to the morals of the young is hard to believe. The band enjoyed a bit of a renaissance when R.E.M. recorded a cover of "Love Is All Around" in 1991 and the following year The Troggs took advantage by making a new pop album of their own, "Athens Andover". The title referred to the hometown of R.E.M. (Athens, Georgia), who sang backup on the record, and the band's own home of Andover, England. The album was well received by critics, but The Troggs have been fairly quiet since. In 1994, a Scottish band called Wet Wet Wet released their own rendition of "Love Is All Around". Their version spent 37 weeks on the U.K. chart, 15 of them at #1.
By the end of the century, The Troggs still boasted two founding members, with the perpetual Reg Presley fronting the band, and Chris Britton on lead guitar. Their popularity never waned and they were still in great demand both in the U.K. and the rest of Europe, where they regularly headlined festivals, attracting thousands of fans. Their appeal held no age barriers, with fans ranging from the stalwarts who supported them throughout the years to the many new fans from the younger generation.
The Troggs and "Wild Thing" have been used in many advertising campaigns over the years. For instance, The Rowntrees Lion Bar in the UK, coffee in Scandinavia, Mexican relish in the USA and Canada, and insurance in Europe. "Anyway That You Want Me" was re-recorded for a Yoplait Fruit Royale commercial, and in Germany there was a re-release of "With A Girl Like You" to coincide with a televised promotion for the milk and fruit juice packaging company Tetrapak. A CD which also included "Wild Thing" and "I Can't Control Myself" was issued to publicize the product.
In the new millennium, Polygram in the USA and UK released a 52-track CD box set and Castle Music Pictures and Polygram co-operated to produce a video spanning twenty six years of great Troggs music. The Troggs had continued to tour, but in January, 2012, Reg Presley announced that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer and had brought the band to a standstill. He passed away on February 4th, 2013.
For a behind the scenes look at The Troggs, be sure to read Gary James
Interview With Reg Presley