The long, sad death of the Troggs' "Wild Thing," a great rock 'n' roll song

Categories: Obituary

Hollywood claimed "Wild Thing" in the '80s, when it was featured in the disastrous Jeff Daniels/Melanie Griffith comedy Something Wild, and played a central role in the baseball comedy Major League. Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Mitch Williams capitalized on the fictional Ricky Vaughn's popularity by taking the song as his theme during the 1993 World Series.

At the height of the MTV era comedian Sam Kinison led a star-studded version of the song in 1988, featuring Slash, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, and Billy Idol (among others). The song lent itself to a classic Kinison rant of misogyny and angst. Around the same time Tone Loc added to the song's implicit innuendo with his cover and "Weird" Al Yankovic mocked it with his Gilligan's Island parody "Isle Thing."

And in 1990 this great rock 'n' roll song died in front of a live studio audience on the TV sitcom Full House when Uncle Jesse performed it with a pre-teen marching band.

Reg Presley published a book, Wild Things They Don't Tell Us, in 2002 which chronicled his research into the unknown. His last performance with the Troggs, in December 2011, included the song. "Wild Thing" remains one of the first chord progressions every guitar student learns, even if the song became a novelty somewhere after the Troggs' 1966 single first hit turntables.

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