Alan Merrill dies of coronavirus

Culture Desk | Published: 23:14, Mar 30,2020


Alan Merrill

The co-writer and original singer of I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll, Alan Merrill, has died after contracting coronavirus.

His daughter Laura shared the news, saying the 69-year-old had been healthy enough to play shows a few weeks ago.

‘He played down the ‘cold’ he thought he had,’ she wrote, before warning other families not to be complacent.

‘You don’t think It’ll happen to you or your strong family. It has,’ she wrote. ‘Stay home if not for you, for others. For my dad. This thing is real.’

I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll became a global hit for Joan Jett in 1982 and has been covered by artists ranging from Britney Spears to Weird Al Yankovic.

A parody version, I Love Sausage Rolls, was last year’s Christmas number one in the UK, with proceeds going to charity.

Coronavirus also claimed the life of country singer Joe Diffie over the weekend, while the family of Nashville legend John Prine said he was critically ill on a ventilator and being treated for Covid-19 symptoms.

Prine, an influential singer-songwriter who is known for lyrical, melancholy folk songs like Hello In There and Angel From Montgomery, has previously survived cancer twice.

As news of his condition broke, musicians including Joan Baez, Bette Midler and Kacey Musgraves sent the Grammy Award winner their love and support.

Alan Merrill, who was born Allan Preston Sachs in New York, had a long and varied career as a musician. He signed his first record deal as lead singer of the band The Lead, who had a big hit in Japan with Aoi Bara (Blue Rose).

After releasing two successful solo albums and hosting TV shows and acting in soap operas, he left Japan for the UK in 1974 to form The Arrows, who put a glam rock sheen on classic pop melodies.

The group scored hits with A Touch Too Much and My Last Night With You, and I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll was written by Merrill and guitarist Jake Hooker as ‘a knee-jerk response to the Rolling Stones’ It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It)’ in 1975.

Originally issued on the B-side of The Arrows’ single Broken Down Heart, it became a hit after DJs started playing the flip side instead.

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