Songs Revisited: 'Wild Thing'

Sep 19, 2015

The other night I was watching director Jonathan Demme’s wonderful film Something Wild from 1986. Right at the end when actors Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels jump in the parked 1940’s Woodie and the credits start to roll, there’s, Sister Carol’s standing in a doorway. She’s singing her reggae rewrite of “Wild Thing”, a song that has been drilled in  our heads over the last 49 years.

We can thank The Troggs from the UK who turned the song in to a worldwide household hit in 1966. It still gets played today. The Troggs slogged it out for years but never acheived another monster hit. Lead singer and front man Reg Presley passed away in 2013 at age 71 but the original guitarist Chris Britton vowed to keep the Troggs going..but they seem to be MIA.

Hit Thing

The Troggs weren’t the first to record “Wild Thing”.  That was done by an obscure New York group called The Wild Ones who did a heavy on the harmonica over the top version in 1965 that went nowhere.

“Wild Thing” has been covered by just about everybody you can think of. Jimi Hendrix, Tom Petty, X, Patti Smith, Hank Williams Jr,  Beyonce, Joan Jett, The Runaways, and assorted metal bands.  I could keep going.

Commercial Thing

“Wild Thing” has been used for car and Pepsi commercials, pro football games, sumo wrestlers, a couple of baseball movies, the aforementioned Something Wild, and horribly turned into bubblegum music by the Sugarbeats.  Siouxsie Sioux and the Creatures actually changed the words and sang  “wild thing, I think I hate you” etc. etc. their dark goth version back in the 90’s. They retitled the song, “Wild Things”.

Then in 1989 rapper Tone Loc got a hold of it  and turned “Wild Thing” into a sex thing.  A few years ago electronica artist, Peaches, resampled Loc and had a thumping dance hit with it.Sex Thing

Chip Taylor.
Credit Photo by Samantha Hawkins

  Who Wrote it Thing?

When it comes to trivia, the answer to who wrote “Wild Thing” is worth millions in prizes.  It was songwriter and singer Chip Taylor who as a young song smith in the 60’s, wrote it as a lark. He’s the same guy who wrote “Angel of the Morning”, is actor John Voight’s brother, Angelina Jolie’s uncle and he discovered singer James Taylor, even producing his first albums. Although Chip Taylor performs “Wild Thing” all the time (often with Carrie Rodriguez), oddly enough, he didn’t release his own version until his 1996 album Hit Man.  It’s really a wild thing. -Eric Berg

VIDEOS

The Troggs 1973