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'Wild Thing' singer Reg Presley dies of cancer at age 71

reg presley wild thing 660 ap.jpg

Rock star Reg Presley, lead singer of the Troggs on hit songs including the garage-rock classic "Wild Thing," has died. He was 71.

Presley's friend and publicist, Keith Altham, said late Monday night that Presley died after a long bout with cancer.

Altham said the singer died at his home in Andover (70 miles west of London) surrounded by his family and friends.

"My dear old pal Reg Presley of The Troggs died today," he said, calling Presley "one very real person in a sometimes very unreal world."

Presley and the Troggs scored their breakthrough hit "Wild Thing" in the early days of the British invasion started by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

With its basic three-chord approach and driving beat, it became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic and has been covered by literally hundreds of bands since its 1966 release.

The song was picked up not only by garage bands the world over -- the lead guitar riffs were easily copied -- but also by icons like Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Springsteen.

The Troggs, all from the Andover area, had several other big hits, including "Love is All Around" and "With a Girl Like You."

They faded in the 1970s but their songs were revived in the 1990s when REM and Wet Wet Wet released covers of the Troggs' "Love Is All Around."

Presley founded the Troggs in the 1960s and they kept touring until his lung cancer was diagnosed just over a year ago. He had recently retired because of the cancer.

He had a strong interest in crop circles, paranormal activity, and UFOs.

His daughter Karen told the music website WENN that she, her brother and her mother were with Presley when he died.

"We're absolutely heartbroken," she said.

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