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Love is all around

February 5, 2013

Reg Presley, lead singer of the Troggs, has passed away at 71.

Presley was born Reg Ball in Andover, Hampshire. After leaving school at 15, he played the guitar in a local skiffle group, but by day worked as a bricklayer. His musical career lay dormant until the early 1960s when a fellow worker, Howard Mansfield, suggested forming a band. Mansfield was the singer and lead guitarist, with Ball on bass guitar. When Mansfield left, Ball reluctantly took on the role of lead vocalist, accompanied by Ronnie Bond on drums, Chris Britton on guitar, and a bass player, Pete Staples. As the Troglodytes, they won a Battle of the Bands talent contest in Oxford in 1965, and sent a demo tape to the rock entrepreneur Larry Page, who shortened their name to the Troggs. The Troggs were not among the most technically proficient of British pop groups of the 1960s, but they generated great affection among audiences and disc jockeys alike. The naivety of their sound, their songs and, above all, the singing of Reg Presley, who has died of lung cancer aged 71, made records such as I Can’t Control Myself and With a Girl Like You into big international hits.

Presley’s most lasting performances, however, were on Wild Thing (a 1966 hit soon adopted by Jimi Hendrix) and the wistful 1967 ballad Love Is All Around, given a new lease of life when a version by the Scottish band Wet Wet Wet was used in the 1994 film Four Weddings and a Funeral. In the 1970s, the Troggs were feted by the punk generation, while the infamous “Troggs tapes”, a recording of a heated discussion at a studio session, was said to have inspired a scene in the cult 1984 film This is Spinal Tap.

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