Browse by Title
A B C D E F G
H I J K L M N
O P Q R S T U
V W X Y Z #  




Wild Thing

by

The Troggs



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This was written by a songwriter named Chip Taylor, who has made tons of money from it because it has been recorded by many artists and is constantly being used in movies and TV shows. Taylor used a lot of this money to gamble - for years he bet about $10,000 a day and was kicked out of every casino in Las Vegas for card counting. He also wrote "Angel Of The Morning," which was a hit for Merrilee Rush in 1968. Taylor is the brother of actor Jon Voight and the uncle of Angelina Jolie.
The style of music exemplified in this song became known as "Caveman Rock." The Troggs is short for "troglodyte" (meaning "cave dweller"), which helped bolster this image. Over the next few years, The Troggs moved away from this Neanderthal sound and had a big hit in 1968 the much more evolved "Love Is All Around."
A New York group called Jordan Christopher & The Wild Ones were the first to record this, but their version flopped. That group was best known for their outrageous hairstyles.
The Troggs' first single flopped. For their second single, their producer/manager Larry Page had them choose between "Wild Thing" and The Lovin' Spoonful's "Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind." They went with "Wild," recording the song using studio time booked for an orchestra session Page was running. When that session ended 45 minutes early and the musicians shuffled out, The Troggs quickly set up and blew through "Wild Thing" and what would be their next hit, "With A Girl Like You," in about 20 minutes. It was mixed live as they recorded it.
The way the song stops and starts up again was inspired by Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel."
When Chip Taylor originally demoed this basic three-chord song in 1965, he didn't take it too seriously. He later told Rolling Stone magazine: "I was on the floor laughing when I was through." Taylor added in Mojo magazine September 2008: "'Wild Thing' came out in a matter of minutes. The pauses and the hesitations are a result of not knowing what I was going to do next."
This was released simultaneously on Atco and Fontana Records. The Troggs were from England, and sent their manager to the US to make a distribution deal as Fontana (their British label) was initially hesitant to release it in North America. Fontana changed its mind and shortly afterwards, the manager returned with a signed distribution contract with Atco. Because both singles used the same master recording, the compilers of the Billboard Hot 100 decided to combine the two singles (which had different B-sides) into one chart position. It is the only single to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 while being offered on two different labels simultaneously.
That crazy whistling instrument in the break is an ocarina, which is an Eastern instrument that dates back thousands of years. The original version of the song recorded by Jordan Christopher & The Wild Ones had whistling in the break, but The Troggs identified the ocarina from the demo they heard of the song and got one to record it. This gave the song a very distinctive sound and was a great talking point for the band. The next hit song to use an ocarina was "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." by John Mellencamp, which used the instrument as a tribute to this song as part of his pastiche of '60s Rock.
In 1967, this was revived as a parody recording by a comedy troupe called The Hardly Worthit Players. Their version ht #20 in the US, and was recorded under the name Senator Bobby. It was a send-up of the popular Senator from New York (and younger brother of President John), Robert F. Kennedy, and loaded with in-jokes about Democratic party politics and RFK's family. The interplay between "Senator Bobby" and the producer is outlandish. The B-side was a send-up of the popular Senator from Illinois, Everett Dirkson, loaded with in-jokes about Republican party politics. The interplay between the "senator" and the producer on the "response" to "Senator Kennedy's hit record" is equally funny. The voice of Senator Bobby was James Voight, brother of actor Jon Voight. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968 while running for President. Everett Dirkson died in 1969.
The parody version by The Hardly Worthit Players was one of the last hits for the Cameo/Parkway empire before it went belly-up in early 1969. A former Beatles and Rolling Stones manager bought the original tapes of all product by the company, then changed its name to ABKCO. He still owns the rights and refuses to issue any of them on CD.
Five years after The Troggs recorded this, Jimi Hendrix released his version. It was one the few songs Hendrix recorded that he did not write, and it gave the song new life on Rock radio stations, as Jimi worked it over in his legendary guitar style. This is the song Hendrix is playing in the Monterey Pop Festival footage where he sets his guitar on fire.
Sam Kinison recorded a version of this in 1988 with a video featuring Jessica Hahn, who was famous for having an affair with televangelist Jim Bakker. Also appearing in the video were Slash, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Billy Idol and Tommy Lee.
A version by Cheap Trick was used in the 1992 movie Encino Man, starring Brendan Fraser as caveman who comes back to life in a Los Angeles suburb. It was also a big part of the 1989 movie Major League, where Charlie Sheen played Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn, a relief pitcher with control problems who becomes a star when he gets glasses and starts throwing strikes. This song was his theme music, and was copied in real life by Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Mitch Williams, who entered games with the song playing. Williams was known for his reckless, but effective fastball until 1993, when he became known for giving up the home run to Joe Carter that won the World Series.

It quickly became commonplace for dominant closers to enter the game with a specific theme song playing when they made the trip from the bullpen to the mound. Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres came in to "Hell's Bells" by AC/DC, and Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankess had Metallica's "Enter Sandman" as his music.
After their first single flopped, The Troggs moved from CBS to DJM, Dick James' label. Reg Presley recalled to Mojo magazine April 2008 his initial reaction to "Wild Thing": "There was a guy there (at DJM) called Dennis Berger, who had a heap of demos on his desk. The first one I picked up was Wild Thing. I took a look at the lyric sheet and read: 'Wild Thing-you make my heart sing-you make everything groovy.' It seemed so corny, I thought, Oh my God, what are they doing to us! Then I played Chip Taylor's demo- just guitar and him- and it was incredible. The other boys all liked it too. Chip Taylor later told us our version was just what he wanted."
In the same Mojo interview, Reg Presley recalled the recording of this song at London's Regent Sound studio: "We recorded Wild Thing and With A Girl Like You at the same session. We had about three quarters of an hour to get our gear set up for them to get a balance, then record and get out. It was at the end of a session Larry Page and his orchestra had booked. Larry was our manager and said we could have any time left over. So we recorded very fast-and for rawness, you can't whack it."
The Troggs
More The Troggs songs
More songs commonly played at sporting events
More songs used in movies

Comments (20):

It's mentioned on the site here that the song was mastered in mono only but I have a stereo version that completely gives the song a new lease on life. One notice is the use of acoustic guitars and with the solo made me realize that the track has a lot of punch without being "plugged in". I also noticed the double tracking of the drums; why? who knows, but it adds to the punch! It really sounds great! Their song "Lost Girl" is really a great track too - too bad it didn't see the light of day at the time.
- Jaimz, Vancouver, BC
I always thought this was a dreadful song. Couldn't believe it when it soared to Number One. Amateurish, pseudo-macho delivery of the sophomoric lyrics. Had it bombed, it would have been cited as How Not To Make A Record. Laughable.
- Matthew, Toronto, ON
The Jimi Hendrix Experience played this song at the Monterey Pop Festeval, 1967.
- Ryan, Anahola, HI
This was the first full song I learned on bass guitar! It's so simple yet so awesome! The song really good!
- bob, owen sound, ON
Anybody tried to play along with this song (Troggs version), supposedly in the key of A, and it just doesn't sound right? And neither does Bb! Basically, I assume, the guitars were not tuned exactly right (no keyboard in this, so no need to tune to the keyboard). The guitars were probably tuned to each other (in this day before electric guitar tuners) so they don't sound out of tune with each other. Just not tuned to traditional middle C. The ocarina in the solo sounds just a tad off also, the out-of-tune guitars would explain this. The other possibility is that this was slowed down or speeded up, which would also cause a slight exaggeration in the tuning.
- Alan, City, MI
Whooh! Talk about primitive. Caveman rock, indeed. No work on instrumentality or production is anywhere to be found here, and yet it rocks, and it rocks BECAUSE of those flaws, not despite them. Anyone who has ever seen the footage of Jimi first humping, then lighting up, then smashing his guitar at the Monterey Pop Festival will know why that performance was what broke him through here in his homeland of the U.S. Simply fantastic bit of showmanship, right through the dying hum of his guitar through his overcharted amp. I also got a big kick out of the parody verion done with Sam Kinison. Of COURSE this song was always intended to be a bit under the arm, so a joke version is not a stretch at all.
- oldpink, New Castle, IN
I love the rough garage sound this song has.Most everything recorded today is too polished and artificial.For an instant the Troggs captured IT.IT being a sublime moment of great joy in 2 minute song.
- Mark, byrdstown, TN
I love the orcarina solo in the middle!
- Ian, Lethbridge, Canada
Also covered in the seventies by a british band called Fancy it reached #14 on U.S.chart.Fancy was lead by a former penthouse pet Helen Court her version was very erotic pre dating Donna Summer's vocal delivery on Love to Love You.
- Dan, Winthrop, MA
Jimi Hendrix did a version of this....
- Nooxara, Albany, AK
It has the great 70's tune that seems to be missing in music these days.
- Linus, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Actually, the cover version in Major League was from a group called "X", who consisted of John Doe: vocals/bass; Exene Cervenka: vocals; D.J. Bonebrake: drum/vocals; Billy Zoom: guitar/vocals. http://www.xtheband.com/wildthing.html
- Big Bob, LaGrange, OH
Was recorded using left over minutes in a studio reserved for someone else.
- Rick Sobotka, Sedona, AZ
This is #257 in Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs.
- Ross, Independence, MO
The solo on this is recorded on ocarina! Maybe the oddest solo instrument on a Top 10 hit except for the solo to Johnny Get Angry which was recorded on tissue paper and comb.
The former Beatles/Stones manager mentioned above is Allen Klein.
- Alan, City, MI
The lead singer of the Troggs, Reg Presley had just arrived in Hollywood and met with actress Mary Badham at a bar. This song was inspired by her attude and her wildness that she seemed to have.
- Jade, Chippewa Falls, WI
does everyone hnows if the kinks ever covered this one?
- alejandro, Mexico D.F., Mexico
The Goodies did their own version of Wild Thing in one of their episodes, adding a few extra vocals.
- Joe, Adelaide, Australia
The song writer, Chip Taylor, was raised in Yonkers, New York, born James Welsey Voight, and formed the high school band, "Town and Country Brothers". He started out as a professional golfer, then switched to music. Besides having other hit songs by top performers, including Anne Murray's version of "Son Of A Rotten Gambler" (written for his son), Taylor and his producing partner Al Gorgoni discovered and produced James Taylor and Evie Sands. As a recording artist in his own right, Taylor's album "Last Chance" was called by Rolling Stone magazine one of the best country albums of 1973, and was one of the forerunners of "outlaw" country music.

As a professional gambler, he was one of the foremost thoroughbred horse race handicappers on the East Coast. When Chip turned his sights on the gaming tables, he quickly gained notoriety with his black jack prowess; finishing third in the World Black Jack Championship in Las Vegas. Taylor became one of the most feared card counters in the land (the reason he was ulimately banned from every casino in Atlantic City). In the late 80's, along with friend, partner, and renowned handicapper, Ernest Dahlman, he garnered enormous winnings through his horse racing exploits, specifically in the form of massive pick six scores.
- Jeff, Gaithersburg, MD
I've always thought that the song in the movie Major League was sung by Joan Jett, who first recorded it (in 1977) as part of the Runaways. I'm certainly not shure if this is the version they used in the movie (i'm almost certainly sure thats it is not) and that it is probably a new version by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts.
- Frank de Wit, 's?Hertogenbosch, Netherlands
You have to to post comments.
Guy ClarkGuy Clark
Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett are just a few of the artists who have looked to Clark for insightful, intelligent songs.
Graham Bonnet (Alcatrazz, Rainbow)Graham Bonnet (Alcatrazz, Rainbow)
Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai were two of Graham's co-writers for some '80s rock classics.
Leslie West of MountainLeslie West of Mountain
From the cowbell on "Mississippi Queen" to recording with The Who when they got the wrong Felix, stories from one of rock's master craftsmen.
Artis the SpoonmanArtis the Spoonman
Even before Soundgarden wrote a song about him, Artis was the most famous spoon player of all time. So why has he always been broke?