Reg Presley



I heard the sad news today about Reg Presley passing. Encouraged by a friend who suggested that “a kind thought almost never falls on stony ground,” I called his wife, Brenda to offer my sympathy and to say a warm hello. I was so glad I did. Hearing her voice was a clear reminder of how special Reg & his wife were together… kind and loving to each other.. with a unique common-man sense of humor.

I met Reg and the boys in New York, maybe a year or so after Wild Thing went to #1 on the U.S. charts. I liked them immediately. There was no rock & roll posing – these were just damned good guys. Every so often our paths would cross again.

Then, about seven or eight years ago Reg & I were in each other’s company on a few occasions. We played Wild Thing on a UK TV show (with Carrie Rodriguez) and then Reg & Brenda showed up at a few of our shows. Each time he’d come with his trusted ocarina in his pocket and gladly join us for a show-stopping version of “that song.” I love those memories.

About Wild Thing

Back in the “Brill Building” 60s, my biggest concern as a writer, was that the artist and producer recording my song would capture the feel or the groove of the song correctly .. that is, like the demo recording that I produced. I’m happy to say that many did. I’ve been very fortunate in that regard. But none captured the feel and the intent of the demo, better than the Troggs recording of Wild Thing, thanks to the true rock & roll spirit of Reg & the boys and Larry Page’s instincts not to overproduce. I remember the first time I heard it .. it killed me!

And Jimi Hendrix felt exactly the same way. I love the story about Jimi jumping out of the shower butt naked when he heard Wild Thing playing on his radio to tell his girlfriend, “That’s the record I was telling you about!!” Thanks to Reg & the boys, Jimi immediately included the song in his shows and his legendary Monterey performance soon followed.


Aside from his unique – humble but passionate – delivery as a vocalist, it should be remembered that Reg was an important writer in his own right. Sandwiched between and around Wild Thing and another of my songs, Anyway That You Want Me, in the space of a couple of years, he wrote and had hits with some cool, simple little rock & roll heartfelt songs, With A Girl Like You, I Can’t Control Myself and Love Is All Around. Those honest blasts of rock & roll energy were unique in their day. Later on, you could feel similar energy with the Ramones and the Velvet Undergound. Reg & the boys should be remembered as sort of pioneers of that great stuff.

My deep condolences to Brenda, daughter Karen and son Jason – as well as to Jacqueline (Jackie) Ryan and all those from his passionate and wonderful fan club, who saw the beauty in what Reg & the boys did from the very beginning and were their champions for all these years. I’m proud to have known so many of you.

Here’s to Reg .. a talented guy – a humble guy .. a nice guy. It’s wonderful that he came by when he did.

Posted in 1960s, Decade of Note, Singers, Songwriters

Jerry Ragovoy



by Chip Taylor

[Jerry died a few days ago and what follows is what Chip Taylor remembers about working with Jerry during the 60s. At the end we'll discuss some of Jerry's other indelible work.]

I was so saddened to hear of Jerry’s passing. Here are a few recollections.
Although I didn’t see him often, I loved just being with Jerry. Read Full Article

Posted in 1960s, Producers, Songwriters / Tagged , , ,

Barrett Strong


Barratt Strong

by Mats K. L. Andersson

Barrett Strong was primarily a songwriter, the most well-known of his songs were done in collaboration with Norman Whitfield (another Joe!).  They wrote the massive hits “(I Heard it Through the)Grapevine”, “I Wish It Would Rain”, “War” and Read Full Article

Posted in Songwriters

Baker Knight


Baker Knight

I never met Baker Knight. I wish I had. But what little I do know about him has held my interest for almost 50 years.

Baker was born in Birmingham Alabama in 1933. He played guitar, wrote songs and fronted several local bands including Baker Knight and the Knightmares.

With dreams of making it big, Baker moved to LA in 1958, hoping to get his songs recorded, secure a recording contract or become a movie star. For several years he struggled with little success in any of these endeavors.

A chance meeting with Ricky Nelson provided the songwriting break he needed.

Nelson decided to record two of Baker’s songs which helped establish him as a songwriter. The two songs Nelson recorded were Lonesome Town which reached #6 on the Billboard charts and I Got A Feeling which reached #11. Ricky Nelson recorded many more Baker Knight songs as did Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Frank Sinatra and Mickey Gilley.

[This was the Academy of Country Music Song of the Year in 1975]

Throughout his life Baker continued to write, record and release his own recordings but found little solo success.

He returned to Birmingham Alabama in 1985 where he unfortunately developed and struggled with some serious health problems. He died in 2005.

Lonesome Town in my opinion is one of the greatest rock n roll ballads ever written. It certainly may be one of the saddest.

Baker has yet to be recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or the Songwriter Hall of Fame.

A true Rock and Roll Joe.

Kevin Hale
Westlake Village California

Posted in 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, Guitarists, Songwriters