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"Wild Thing" Singer Reg Presley Dead at 71

Reg Presley Petra Niemeier/K & K/Redferns

He made our hearts sing. And he won't be forgotten.

Reg Presley, the English-born singer whose band The Troggs shot to fame with their seminal 1960s anthem "Wild Thing," has died. He was 71.

A statement released by his publicist and longtime friend Keith Altham said Presley died peacefully at his Andover, Hampshire, home in England surrounded by his family and friends after losing a battle with cancer.

"He was one very real person in a sometimes very unreal world. Our thoughts are with his wife Brenda and the family and those legion of fans who loved his music and his band. I will miss him hugely," wrote Altham on his Facebook page.

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After falling ill during a concert in Germany, Presley announced in January 2012 that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer and was underdoing chemotherapy treatment. He subsequently announced his retirement from The Troggs and offered his thanks to all those who've supported the band over the years.

Arriving at the tail end of the British Invasion, The Troggs hit it big in July 1966 with their garage rock cover of American songwriter Chip Taylor's "Wild Thing," which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Now a classic rock staple, the ditty has been covered countless times in the years since and was ranked by Rolling Stone magazine at No. 257 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Reg and company's other hits include "With a Girl Like You," "I Can't Control Myself" and Love Is All Around," the last of which was covered by Wet Wet Wet in the mid-'90s and famously appeared in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral.

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Presley was also a sometime actor and had a fascination with the crop-circle phenomenon, which led him to pen a 2002 book on the subject, Wild Things They Don't Tell Us.

He is surved by his wife Brenda, daughter Karen and son Jason.

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