Rock Legend Dies of COVID-19

Vanwalker, CC BY-SA 4.0

Wrote, recorded Joan Jett’s signature rock anthem

[Scroll down for original Alan Merrill version]

| Mar 30, 2020

| CNN – Rocker Alan Merrill, who wrote and recorded the original version of the hit song “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” died on Sunday in New York after being diagnosed with coronavirus, his daughter told CNN.

Merrill, 69, was a big star in Japan in the 1970s and wrote and recorded the anthem “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” in 1975 with his band The Arrows. He wrote the song with bandmate Jake Hooker, who died in 2014.

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts covered the song in 1982 and the single shot to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry of America Association.

Laura Merrill told CNN that her dad was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Saturday morning and immediately put on a ventilator because he had a fever and was struggling to breathe.

He’d had a cold for about 10 days and had self-quarantined at his home as a precaution. Read more. 

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Alan Merrill

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alan Merrill (born Allan Preston Sachs; February 19, 1951 – March 29, 2020) was an American vocalist, guitarist, songwriter, actor and model.

In the early 1970s, Merrill was the first Westerner to achieve pop star status in Japan.

He was the co-writer of, and lead singer on, the first released version of the song “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”, which was recorded by the Arrows in 1975.

The song became a breakthrough hit for Joan Jett in 1981.

Merrill was primarily a vocalist and songwriter, but also played the guitar, bass guitar, harmonica, and keyboards.

Merrill was born in The Bronx, New York City on February 19, 1951, the son of two jazz musicians, singer Helen Merrill and saxophone/clarinet player Aaron Sachs.

He went to Aiglon College in Switzerland from age 9 to 13, a British boarding school.

On returning to the United States he attended various schools in New York and Los Angeles, and at Sophia University (a private Jesuit research university in Tokyo, Japan).

He started his semi-pro career in New York City aged 14 when he began playing in Greenwich Village’s Cafe Wha? with the bands The Kaleidoscope, The Rayne, and Watertower West. The groups played the club during the 1966–1968 period.

In 1980 Merrill joined forces with Rick Derringer as a guitarist/vocalist in New York City. They recorded three albums, Good Dirty Fun, Live at The Ritz, Rick Derringer and Friends, and a film, The Rick Derringer Rock Spectacular.

Merrill wrote three songs on the Derringer Good Dirty Fun album, “White Heat” (Alan Merrill), “Shake Me” (Alan Merrill/Jake Hooker) and “Lesson Learned” (Alan Merrill/Rick Derringer). “Shake Me” was included in the soundtrack of the film Where The Boys Are (1984).

In 1982, Joan Jett released a cover of “I Love Rock ‘N Roll”, which was No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard charts for seven weeks and helped launch her career.

The following year Lou Rawls recorded Alan Merrill’s song “When The Night Comes” as the title track of his 1983 Epic Records album.

The Rawls’ version of the song was taken into space by astronaut Guion Bluford, the first music taken to and played in outer space.

In 1983, Merrill recorded a solo album for Polydor Records, simply titled Alan Merrill, a collection of self-composed tracks. Some friends contributing to this record were Steve Winwood, Mick Taylor and Dallas Taylor.

It was released in 1985 and received critical acclaim. In 1986, Merrill joined the Meat Loaf band for the promotional tour of his Blind Before I Stop album, and stayed for several years, and appears on Meat Loaf’s 1987 Live at Wembley (1987) album for Arista Records.

In 1989, Merrill was offered a role on the television series Encyclopedia Brown on HBO, and was a part of the successful series in his role as principal character Casey Sparkz.

Merrill wrote a song for the production, “Who Done It?” which he performed on the series and was featured in the concert scene. Read more. 

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“I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” – No. 56 in Billboard’s “Greatest Songs of All Time”

I saw him dancin’ there by the record machine
I knew he must a been about seventeen
The beat was goin’ strong
Playin’ my favorite song
An’ I could tell it wouldn’t be long
Till he was with me, yeah me
An’ I could tell it wouldn’t be long
Till he was with me, yeah me, singin’
I love rock n’ roll
So put another dime in the jukebox, baby
I love rock n’ roll
So come an’ take your time an’ dance with me … Full lyrics. 

YouTube: Arrows, “I Love Rock N Roll,” Alan Merrill