"Wild Thing" is a hit song written by New York City-born songwriter Chip Taylor and originally recorded by The Wild Ones in 1965. The song is best known for its 1966 cover by the English band The Troggs, which reached the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1966. The song charted one position lower in Britain, reaching #2.
The song as sung by The Troggs is ranked #257 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
The song's central guitar riff is immediately recognizable and frames the central lyric:
Wild thing –The music stops for the counter lyric:
You make my heart sing –
You make everything … groovy
Wild thing, I think I love you (or you move me) …The song is in the key of A major, and is based around the chord progression (I - IV - V - IV), which is the basis for the main riff, and the instrumental parts during the chorus. However, the guitars are not strictly tuned to middle C in the Troggs version and the slightly sharp tuning causes the chords to actually be midway between A and Bb. This has, of course, mystified many guitar players trying to play along with the record. The middle eight was originally someone whistling, but in the Troggs' version this was replaced by Colin Fretcher, musical director, playing an ocarina.
But I WANNA KNOW for sure.
So come on, and hold me tight –
I love you (or you move me)
The Troggs version was recorded in mono in one piece on the second take at Olympic Studios which was then at Carton Street, off Baker Street in London, by engineer Keith Grant.
Because of a distribution dispute, the Troggs single was available on two competing labels: Atco and Fontana. 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 #1 for two companies.
The song has remained popular ever since The Troggs' hit single, and has been covered again many times — perhaps most notably by Jimi Hendrix, whose stage performance of the song was featured in the 1967 documentary Monterey Pop. Hendrix recorded the song live and it can be heard in the compilation album The Ultimate Experience.
In 1967, 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 #20 in the United States. The flip side of the Senator Bobby 45 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 1962 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 British group Fancy recorded a version of the song in 1974, which reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100. The British comedy troupe The Goodies recorded a version of the song, and performed it during a 1976 episode of their television series. In 1983 the song was covered by the psychobilly band The Meteors for their Wreckin' Crew album, and was also performed by the Australian pub band Cold Chisel during their Last Stand concert. Sister Carol did a reggae version in 1986.
Comedian Sam Kinison recorded a hit novelty version in 1988, with a music video featuring cameos from Rodney Dangerfield as well as many well-known rock musicians including Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from Aerosmith, Slash, Billy Idol, Steve Vai, Dweezil Zappa, Richie Sambora, and Tommy Lee, and a raunchy "roll on the mat" dance with Jessica Hahn. A cover by the Los Angeles-based punk band X was used in the 1989 film Major League. The 1990 cartoon version of the comic book character Swamp Thing had a theme song that parodied the song, with the lyrics "Swamp Thing! You are amazing!" Cheap Trick recorded the song for the soundtrack to Encino Man in 1992, possibly as a tribute to Kinison who had died that year. The Troggs recorded a new version in 1993, which charted in the lower reaches of the British charts. A cover version was recorded by Hank Williams, Jr. in 1995.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed the song during their Working on a Dream Tour at the April 24, 2009 show at the XL Center in Hartford.
Use in sports, television and film
The 1989 baseball film Major League used "Wild Thing" recorded by L.A. punk band X as the theme song for Rick Vaughn, the team's erratic relief pitcher. Life soon imitated art, when the Philadelphia Phillies closer Mitch Williams adopted the song for his entrances from the bullpen, including in the 1993 World Series. During the late 2000s, the song is played at Fenway Park whenever Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon comes in from the bullpen, followed by "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" by the Dropkick Murphy's.
In 1992, the Troggs' version was used in the film D2: The Mighty Ducks. That same year a version by Cheap Trick was used for the film Encino Man. In 2003, Aerosmith recorded a version of the song with a video, which was used for commercials and teasers advertising ABC's coverage of the NFL Wild Card playoffs.
In the UK the song was used heavily by television programme "You've Been Framed", for clips generally involving animals.
Japanese Pro Wrestler Atsushi Onita used the X cover of the song as his entrance theme.
The song was featured in a prominent scene in the 1997 miniseries Painted Lady featuring Helen Mirren.
In the Full House episode, "Just Say No Way," Jesse Katsopalis plays this song with the marching band at DJ's school dance (replacing Dogface, a popular high school band, who broke up hours beforehand).
An inversion of this song's title became the title of Something Wild (1986 film). The film features a scene where the hero & heroine pick up some hitch-hikers in their connvertible; and the party then sing "Wild Thing". Regrettably, this cover is not included on the soundtrack CD; nor are the two songs played at the high-school reunion by the band, The Feelies, (The Monkees' I'm a Believer, and Fame (David Bowie song)).
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