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.
REG – THE SONGWRITER
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.