October 27, 2016

Where are they now… ? The Troggs

LEAD guitarist Chris Britton was a founding member of The Troggs, who had a string of hit records in the 60s including Love Is All Around, With A Girl Like You and Wild Thing.

Hertfordshire-born Chris, 71, lives with his partner, Nadin, in Hampshire and is still touring with the band.

“I was nine years old when I bought myself a Spanish guitar for nine guineas. Just before my final day at junior school, my music teacher asked us to bring in any instruments we had at home, so I showed her my guitar and played her a classical piece.

She burst into tears: she couldn’t believe I could play that well without her knowing about it. She had thought I was such a terrible musician, she wouldn’t even let me play the triangle.

“I was 15 when I got interested in rock’n’roll music. We had two bands in Andover, Hampshire, in the 60s, but they fell apart for various reasons and the remaining members got together and became a four-piece called The Troggs, with Reg Presley on lead vocals.

“We had hits with Wild Thing, which was huge worldwide, With A Girl Like You, which got to number one in the UK and across Europe, and then Love Is All Around.

“We met all the big bands including The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and

The Animals, but we didn’t make long-lasting friendships because we were like ships passing in the night.

“In addition to recording and touring throughout Europe, we’ve had personnel changes over the years: our bass player, Peter Staples, left in 1968 and I took a six-year break in the 70s to run a nightclub in Portugal. We recorded our last album, Athens Andover, in 1991 with members of REM and the following year our drummer, Ronnie Bond, sadly died aged only 52.

“We were regular guests on TV shows and among those we’ve appeared with is Oliver Reed, who sang Wild Thing. It was strange, but Oliver was superb and he knew exactly how he was going to perform it.

“Then there was lots of interest in our music after Wet Wet Wet had a huge international hit with their version of Love Is All Around, which featured on the soundtrack of the 1994 film Four Weddings And A Funeral.

“Reg had a stroke and developed lung cancer. He didn’t have the energy to continue touring – much as he wanted to – and asked us to continue as a three-piece, but none of our voices were as strong as Reg’s.

He died in 2013 aged 72.

“I got married at 21 and my daughter has two children. Although my marriage didn’t last, I’m good friends with my ex-wife. I lived with my second wife in Portugal until we split up and then I got married a third time to Elaine, who has three children, 18 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

After Elaine died two years ago, I bumped into Nadin, a widow, who I’d dated when we were at school together.

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