NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) — Songwriter Alan Merrill, whose song “I Love Rock & Roll” became a signature hit for Joan Jet, has died from complications of COVID-19. He was 69.
His daughter Laura broke the news of his passing via social media, writing: “The Coronavirus took my father this morning. I was given 2 minutes to say my goodbyes before I was rushed out. He seemed peaceful and as I left there was still a glimmer of hope that he wouldn’t be a ticker on the right hand side of the CNN/Fox news screen. I walked 50 blocks home still with hope in my heart. The city that I knew was empty. I felt I was the only person here and perhaps in many ways I was. By the time I got in the doors to my apartment I received the news that he was gone.”
Hailing from a musical family, Merrill’s mother Helen was a professional singer and his father, Aaron Sachs, was a saxophonist and clarinetist who died in 2014.
As a teenager, Merrill performed with several rock bands while living in Tokyo with his mother, including The Tigers, and Lead, whose members were all western but who recorded in Japanese.
Merrill also recorded a pair of solo albums in Japan, including “Alone in Tokyo” (1971), and “Merrill 1” (1972).
In 1974, he relocated to London where he formed the glam pop group The Arrows who scored a Top 10 hit in Britain in 1974 with “Touch Too Much.”
“I Love Rock ’n’ Roll,” was originally recorded as a B-side for the Arrows but failed to gain traction with fans. The song caught the attention of Joan Jett, who recorded it with her group The Blackhearts for inclusion on her 1981 debut album and landing at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“I can still remember watching the Arrows on TV in London and being blown away by the song that screamed hit to me,” Ms. Jett wrote on social media on Sunday.
Merrill also performed with Meat Loaf and Rick Derringer and later became a popular figure in the New York music scene.
Merrill is survived by his wife, two daughters, and a son.