"Wild Thing" is a song written by American songwriter Chip Taylor and popularized by the English rock band the Troggs. It was originally recorded and released by the American rock band the Wild Ones in 1965, but it did not chart. The Troggs' single reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the UK Singles Chart in 1966. Their version of "Wild Thing" was ranked at number 257 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It has also been performed by many other musicians.
|Single by the Troggs|
|Released||22 April 1966|
|Studio||Olympic Sound, London|
|The Troggs UK singles chronology|
|The Troggs US singles chronology|
The first studio version was recorded by the Wild Ones, a band based in New York and set up by socialite Sybil Christopher. They had contacted composer Chip Taylor to ask him to write a song for them to release as a single. Taylor composed it very quickly: within a couple of minutes, he had the chorus and a "sexual-kind-of-feeling song" emerged. On his demo version, Taylor banged on a tambourine while producer Ron Johnson "was doing this little thing with his hands", as Taylor related it. The result sounded "cool". Producer Gerry Granahan approved the song and then produced the Wild Ones' recording, with vocals by Chuck Alden. However, on its release in November 1965, the record failed to sell, and Alden later said that he regretted not performing the song in the same way as Taylor's demo.
Due to a distribution dispute, the Troggs' single was available on two competing labels: Atco Records and Fontana Records. Because both pressings were taken from the identical master recording, Billboard combined the sales for both releases, making it the only single to simultaneously reach number one for two companies.
On the Atco label, the author credits of both sides are reversed as "Wild Thing" is credited to Reg Presley (Troggs' lead vocalist) and its B-side, "With a Girl Like You", to Chip Taylor. On the Fontana label, "Wild Thing" is correctly credited to Chip Taylor and the flip contains a different song, "From Home", by Reg Presley. The Fontana label credits production to Page One Productions, England, while the Atco label credits production as "A Larry Page Production, Recorded in England". One further difference between the two singles is that there is a noticeable "click" on the Atco single after Presley says "You move me" and just before the music starts again; this click is edited out of the Fontana version.
The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart on issue date June 25, 1966. Two weeks later (July 9), it leaped from number 47 to number six. The song then rose to number two where it remained for the next two weeks (July 16 and July 23), while "Hanky Panky" by Tommy James and the Shondells occupied the top spot. On issue date July 30, 1966, "Wild Thing" hit number one where it remained for two weeks. The song ultimately logged eleven weeks on the chart, with eight of those weeks in the Top 10. In Canada, the single (Fontana 1548) reached number two on the RPM magazine charts on August 8, 1966.
The Troggs recorded a new version of the song in 1993, which peaked at number 87 in the UK Singles Chart.
|UK Singles Chart||2|
|US Billboard Hot 100||1|
Notable cover versions of this song include The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Fancy, The Creatures (Siouxsie Sioux's second band), X, Amanda Lear and Liz Phair. The Jimi Hendrix Experience gave a dramatic performance of the song, at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967: in the documentary Monterey Pop, Jimi Hendrix lit his guitar on fire at the song's conclusion. The version was also included on the compilation album The Ultimate Experience. That same year, the novelty team of Senator Bobby released a version of "Wild Thing". Sung by comedian Bill Minkin in the verbal style of Democratic Senator Bobby Kennedy while a recording engineer is heard giving instructions, the stammering single charted at number 20 in the United States. The flip side featured "Senator Everett McKinley" (an impression of Republican Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen) doing the same song; the initial voiceover by the recording engineer encourages Senator Bobby to respond to his "hit single" (the Senator Everett McKinley version also had some radio airplay at the time). The songs were credited to The Hardly-Worthit Players, and the Senator Bobby version was included as a bonus track on reissues of their 1966 Parkway LP called The Hardly-Worthit Report (the rest of the album is a comedic takeoff on the NBC national news broadcast The Huntley-Brinkley Report). The Runaways included a live rendition of the song on their live in Japan 1977 album with their drummer Sandy West on vocals. In 1981, Siouxsie recorded it with her second band The Creatures, adding new lyrics; "Wild thing, I think I hate you/but I wanna know for sure/so come on, hit me hard/I hate you": it was included on the EP Wild Things. Siouxsie's version with the Creatures was described by critics as "Perhaps the most striking of those 7,500-odd licensed recordings [...] on which [her] chilly multitracked vocals are accompanied only by [...] tribal-sounding drums". David Cheal of the Financial Times argued that "It’s a version that taps into the earthy, elemental spirit of the song". The British group Fancy recorded a version of the song in 1974, which reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Los Angeles-based punk band X released their cover of the song in 1984. It was later used in the 1989 film Major League and its 1994 sequel, Major League II. French singer Amanda Lear recorded "Wild Thing" for her 1986 album Secret Passion and released as a single in 1987. Comedian Sam Kinison recorded a novelty version in 1988 which reached number 18 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart. The music video featured cameos from many well-known rock musicians including Rodney Dangerfield, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from Aerosmith, Slash and Steven Adler of Guns N' Roses, Billy Idol, C.C. DeVille of Poison, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, Stephen Pearcy, Warren DeMartini and Robbin Crosby from Ratt, and Tommy Lee. The video also featured a raunchy "roll on the mat" dance with Jessica Hahn. Kinison's version changed the song to a blistering condemnation of the title subject, with lines such as "Why didn't you tell me you were a demon from Hell" and "The only thing that gets you off is to see me in pain." Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed the song on numerous occasions during their Working on a Dream Tour. A version by Cheap Trick appeared in the 1992 film Encino Man and its soundtrack album. Australian rock duo Divinyls covered the song in 1993 for the soundtrack to the film Reckless Kelly. It peaked at number 39 on the Australian Singles Chart. Liz Phair recorded a version of the song on her 2010 album Funstyle.