“And he said, ‘No, that was the engineer bothering to put his thumbs together and blow through them and it sounded like an ocarina.’ “
Ocarina on wild thing was played by Reg Presley, the singer-songwriter of The Troggs until early 2012 when he retired due to lung cancer. Red Presley later died in 2013, aged 71.
The song was recorded in 1966 – with the band choosing the second of two live studio takes – in 15 minutes at the end of an orchestral recording session hosted by Larry Page.
“He said there was maybe 10 to 15 minutes left at the end of the session and I think we could do a little recording,” he said.
“We got in and unloaded all the material and in the last 10 or 15 minutes of studio time we hopped into the studio, they put microphones in front of the amps and we recorded wild thing and With a girl like you in the same session in 10 minutes.
“And it was actually a live recording. In four-track mono. And then we just came out,” he said.
Britton used a Gretch Country Gentleman guitar on the slopes, which he had until it was stolen in Marseille in 1978.
“I don’t think the people who stole it ever understood the importance of the guitar they stole, because it went with a whole bunch of gear.”
Singer Reg Presley went on to sink lots and lots of fiberglass ocarinas, because the clay ones kept shattering.
After leaving the band he founded in 1964, he came to see the current version in 2012 – with new vocalist Chris Allen (Denny Laine Band) – and gifted Chris Allen an ocarina.
The only effect on wild thing was a distortion pedal on the guitar. Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards had used one 12 months earlier on (I can’t get no) Satisfaction devastating effect.
“The only effect on the guitar was a distortion pedal at the start to get that intro sound,” he said.
“The rest was just the sound of the amplifiers a little loud and a few dozen microphones all over the place.”
Songs written and recorded by The Troggs – including Love is everywhere, recorded by Wet Wet Wet and included in the 1994 film Four weddings and a funeral – are everywhere.
After Jimi Hendrix, they inspired Iggy Pop, the Ramones, the Buzzcocks and have been described by influential critic Lester Bangs as “the ancestors of punk”.
Britton said they had no idea wild thing would become as influential on rock and roll as the night, even after being taken over by then-emerging guitar maestro, Jimi Hendrix.
“You don’t realize that something is going to be taken so seriously – or become an event – until after the event, do you? ” he said.
“Fortunately Jimi Hendrix heard it and did his version too.”
And yes, wild thing was recorded by The Troggs in the key of A, the guitarist confirmed.
The 2015 version of The Troggs performs in Australia as part of a ’60s-style boat cruise that departs Brisbane on November 6, 2016, hosted by Australian rock critic Glenn A Baker.
The cruise features Peter Noone (Herman’s Hermits), Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, the Searchers, The Pacemakers, Joey Molland (Badfinger), Brian Poole (The Tremeloes) and PJ Proby.
Information from http://rocktheboatcruise.com.au/2016/
* Correction: This sentence has been modified. It was originally reported that Andover was south of London, but it’s south of London.