Who can forget “Wild Thing”? The Troggs have a unique history with many members of the years, always been remembered for this 60s anthem, but it is just one of their many UK hits. The Troggs legacy is well documented having inspired many generations since their beginnings in 1964. Regarded as the “first British punk band” they continue to be an inspiration to many Garage and punk Rock artists but their music transcends through many genres.
Chris Allen with Reg Presleys blessing stepped into the role of the bands frontman in 2012. Their popularity has continued to grow with their iconic hits reaching a new generation of fans. They are in high demand at various festivals across the UK and Europe despite the numerous changes to the line up over the years. The band along with Chris Allens uncompromising vocal delivery of Reg Presleys iconic hits continue. It’s an honour to interview Chris Allen to find out more about a band with such a rich history in British music, his career, fronting the band, touring with The Animals and more.
You joined The Troggs as their front man in 2012, Tell us how this came about?
My manager at the time, heard there may be a vacancy for either bassist or lead vox with The Troggs and invited me to audition which i did and dropped right in.
You have performed in and alongside various bands over the years. Can you give us a brief history and insight into the bands you have performed with?
Yea, Joined UK hit band , Lieutenant Pigeon in May 1993 after many years learning my craft through local bands and gigs, Whilst in ‘Pigeon’ doors opened and was asked to dep in on bass by Jim Rodford, for ‘The Animals’, with 3 originals, did around 80 gigs in between Pigeon gigs, and later was contacted by Denny Laine (ex Wings / Moody Blues) to play bass in his new band, A little while later, joined ‘SSH’ Band, (Silson, Spencer,Hawkes) 2 x Smokie, ! Tremeloes)on bass. Later joined The Commitments, first on lead guitar, then on bass. Then replaced Reg Presley in The Troggs in June 2012.
You have performed and gigged alongside The Animals another iconic and influential band. Tell us about that?
Yes i played bass and did back up vox on maybe 80 gigs with The Animals, ( Hilton Valentine, John Steel, & Dave Rowberry), and have also worked on the same bill with The Troggs on many occasions.
What music did you listen to growing up and how did this influence and inspire your own musical career?
I was a huge ‘ Cream’, ‘Free’ ‘Queen’and Hendrix fan but admired all the heavier type acts from 60’s on and my bass playing reflects Jack Bruce, and Andy Frazer etc, Vocally, i admired Paul Rogers and Scott Walker, the latter who sang in my Baritone key.
Wild Thing is ranked on the Rolling Stone magazines list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. How does it feel to be fronting the band and performing such influential and iconic songs such as that?
I grew up with this iconic song and it feels a massive privilege to perform it.
Do you feel any pressure performing such songs?
Not now, although at first i felt the need to rise and keep the feel etc.
Initially when you stepped into the shoes of the late great Reg Presley was there any pressure to make sure you did the music justice or were you excited to perform them?
A little bit of both, I knew there were many fans and close friends of Reg, who was a hugely popular man, always ready with a joke and loved by many. I have never attempted to imitate Reg, but put my own slant into the songs whilst trying to keep the integrity and original feel.
Reg Presley retired from gigging with the band due to I’ll health but gave his blessing for you to continue in his place. What was your relationship with Reg like and could you share any memories?
Reg & Brenda, his wife, came to a gig we did at a local venue, The George Hotel, Amesbury, in December 2012 and he was rocking along with the band, enjoying every minute, especially when the ocarina, which Reg gave me, got stuck in my waistcoat pocket as i tried to extricate it for the solo in Wild Thing lol. I found him to be a lovely person, down to earth and instantly likeable. He whispered ‘ Keep my Music alive Chris’
The Troggs are well documented as having inspired the evolution of garage and punk rock. Has these genres been a particular inspiration to you over the years?
I have always advocated that, Good is Good, no matter what type of music, and have hugely wide tastes from Classical to Metal and everything in between
Most memorable gig or performance as part of The Troggs?
Wembley Arena for 60th anniversary of England’s World Cup Soccer win 1966
You have performed across the world as the front man of The Troggs and the band attract a wide diverse age range of old and new fans. That must be amazing to be able to do. Tell us about it?
I feel very privileged and humbled to be a part of this iconic band, and feel exctatic when new and young fans come on board and when fans say we were the best band on the bill.
How long do you feel you will continue fronting the band and what can we expect of the continuing legacy of the band and it’s name?
I’ll be happy to carry on for as long as i feel we do justice to the name and legacy of The Troggs, there have been line up changes over the years, and may be more, but i feel the band is at least as good as it has ever been live, with amazing, world class players and although I recently suffered a heart attack, it’s all fixed and hope for many more years charging about on stage with The Troggs.