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In 1966, English band The Troggs turned their cover of “Wild Thing” into a #1 hit. The song was written by Chip Taylor—brother of Jon Voight and uncle to Angelina Jolie—who talked to Rolling Stone about demoing the song saying, “I was on the floor laughing when I was through.”
This song was originally recorded in 1965 by an American band known as The Wild Ones—but their version flopped. Meanwhile, the Troggs" first single, “Lost Girl,” also flopped and they found Taylor’s original recording in “a heap of demos.” The Troggs ended up recording “Wild Thing”—as well as follow-up hit “With A Girl Like You”—in 20 minutes.
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The legacy of the song went beyond the ’60s. It’s been covered by everyone from Aerosmith to Amanda Lear to Cheap Trick to Liz Phair. Perhaps the most notable cover was by The Jimi Hendrix Experience during the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. When Hendrix famously set his guitar on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival, “Wild Thing” was the song he was playing.
“Wild Thing” has also been used in many songs and movies. But it played a particular role in the 1989 movie ‘Major League.’ In the film, Charlie Sheen’s character—Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn—plays a relief pitcher who uses the song as his entrance music. In real life, Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Mitch Williams later used “Wild Thing” as his entrance music.
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The song was released simultaneously on Atco and Fontana Records after Fontana (a British label) were hesitant to release the song in North America, though they changed their minds later. Although the two singles had different B-sides, their sales were combined in their chart position making this song the only song to hit #1 on Billboard Hot 100 while on two labels simultaneously.