The structure is simple, the guitar riffs basic, the lyrics at best inane, but the Troggs' "Wild Thing" remains a garage rock classic more than 45 years after its release made The Troggs and lead singer Reg Presley international stars.
Presley, whose raunchy, suggestive voice powers this paean to teenage lust, died Monday in Andover, England, after a yearlong struggle with lung cancer that had forced him and the band into reluctant retirement, his agent Keith Altham said. He was 71.
The Troggs, part of the British invasion spurred by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, perfected a simple, hard-driving approach to the three-minute rock song that was miles away from the lyrical art-rock of the Beatles or the poetic songs of Bob Dylan.
This was rock music at its "boy meets girl" basics, with a caveman's approach to romance - and it created such a powerful image that Presley and the band played these songs to appreciative (if smaller) audiences until illness intervened.
"Wild Thing" was written by accomplished American songwriter Chip Taylor, whose real name is James Voight. He turned to his brother, actor Jon Voight, for an assessment.
Jon Voight said in 2007 that he fell on the floor laughing when he first heard "Wild Thing."
"I came up saying, 'It's a hit! They won't be able to get it off their tongues.' It was such a fun song."
However, the original recording by Jordan Christopher & The Wild Ones in 1965 was quickly forgotten. It took the Troggs' cover, released the following year, to make it a classic.
With its basic three-chord approach and driving beat, "Wild Thing" became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic and has been covered by literally hundreds of bands ever since.
The song was picked up not only by semi-skilled garage bands the world over - the lead guitar lines were easily copied - but also by masters such as Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Springsteen who treasured the song's raw energy.
It even led to a successful novelty song, with a singer pretending to be Sen. Robert Kennedy "singing" the lyrics in Kennedy's distinctive voice.
The Troggs had several other big hits, including "Love is All Around" and "With a Girl Like You."
They faded in the 1970s, but their songs were revived in the 1990s when REM and Wet Wet Wet released covers of the Troggs' "Love Is All Around."
Flight attendant pioneer, union organizer dies at 91
Edith Lauterbach, the last survivor among the quintet of female flight attendants who in the 1940s organized the first union to fight for equal rights in the sky, died Monday in San Francisco. She was 91.
A United Airlines flight attendant for more than four decades until her retirement in 1986, Lauterbach saw her profession evolve from one emphasizing youth and beauty to one recognized for its grueling schedule and emergency preparedness.
"I had planned to fly one year and quit," she recalled in 1985. "They wanted you to come and go fast. It was a male-dominated industry, and they weren't anxious to have women hang around."
When Lauterbach joined United in 1944, female flight attendants were called "coeds" and were subject to dismissal if they got married, were deemed overweight, or reached their early to mid-30s.
With a monthly salary of $125 - about $1,630 in today's money, or less than $20,000 a year - Lauterbach roomed with other "stewardesses" to get by, she said.
United, which hired the first "sky girl," Ellen Church, in 1930, was the first to be challenged on its labor policies toward women, according to Kathleen Barry's 2007 book, "Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants."
Lauterbach and three colleagues - Frances Hall, Sally Thometz and Sally Watt - backed Ada Brown, United's chief stewardess, when she began organizing in 1944. The world's first union for flight attendants, the Air Line Stewardesses Association, was founded on Aug. 22, 1945, with Lauterbach as treasurer.
It grew into today's Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the world's largest union "organized by flight attendants for flight attendants," according to its website. The group, part of the Communications Workers of America, represents nearly 60,000 cabin-service personnel at 21 airlines.
Lauterbach "remembered her fellow stewardesses as mostly anti-union by upbringing," Barry wrote. Ultimately, "organizers succeeded in mobilizing stewardesses' investment in their mystique, as well as their discontent with the low pay and working conditions that accompanied it."
Over the next few decades, airlines dropped their employment restrictions based on age, marital status and, except in rare circumstances, weight. Lauterbach played an "instrumental" role in ending United's standard retirement age of 32 for stewardesses, according to a union statement Feb. 5.
Even the word "stewardess" gave way to the gender-neutral "flight attendant," and high heels disappeared as part of the uniform.
Lauterbach was involved in negotiating five contracts for flight attendants during her career and was chosen to help test evacuation procedures in 1952 in a cooperative effort among United, the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board and Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
A career that lasted into the jet age spanned the arc of airlines' evolution from unpressurized, piston-engine planes that had to stop every few hours to refuel.
"After we flew for a while, we realized it wasn't as glamorous as we thought," Lauterbach recalled in 1995, upon the union's 50th anniversary, according to a news release at the time. "We had to crawl on our hands and knees during rough weather and deliver meals in the turbulence, clean up after the passengers when they got sick and hold their hands when they were apprehensive. Those little planes were all over the sky in bad weather."
Trombonist for Glenn Miller, Beach Boys dies
Paul Tanner, a trombonist with the Glenn Miller Orchestra who later played a space-age instrument on the Beach Boys hit "Good Vibrations," died Tuesday in Carlsbad, Calif. He was 95.
Tanner performed with Miller from 1938 to 1942.
During his long career, he also worked as a movie studio and ABC musician in California and performed with stars that included Tex Beneke, Henry Mancini and Arturo Toscanini.
He also helped develop the electro-theramin, a keyboard-style electronic instrument.
Tanner provided its eerie sound on several Beach Boys recordings, including "Good Vibrations."
Tanner also was a music professor at UCLA for 23 years and helped write several books.