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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Alan Merrill R.I.P.



Chiefly known as the co-writer (or sole writer as he claimed in later years) of a little ditty called I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll, Alan Merrill, born Allan Preston Sachs, sadly succumbed to COVID-19 on 29 March 2020.

Although for the past 50 years Alan worked consistently as a recording artist, both solo and with others, to the ‘70s teenpop community (as if there is such a thing!) however, he will be most fondly remembered as a member of mid-'70s glam act Arrows, who originally recorded I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll as a single B-side in 1975.


I had the good fortune of corresponding via e-mail with Alan back in the early 2000s.  Some of said correspondence found its way into my book Don’t Stop the Music: The Bay City Rollers on Record, and focused mainly on Alan’s passing acquaintance with the Rollers who appeared a couple of times on the Arrows’ UK TV show in ’75 – ’76.

Alan was very articulate, had an amazing memory and was very generous of his time – in short, an ideal interview subject.  I suspect he was also the person behind the fully warranted corrections of my haphazard piece on the Arrows for the ‘70s teenpop blog a number of years later.  I was always hoping he'd write his own book, he was a natural storyteller and knew were many of the bodies were buried...so to speak.

In a long and varied career that was launched in Japan in the early ‘70s with Alan as singing, acting and modeling teen idol, there was seemingly never a dull moment.  After stints as a front-man with the aforementioned Arrows as well as, later on in the ‘70s, with adult-oriented rock band Runner, Alan was humble enough to take the backseat as a guitarist with both Rick Derringer and Meatloaf in the ‘80s.

In 1982, of course, Alan’s ship well and truly came in when Joan Jett & the Blackhearts cover of ILRnR became a massive worldwide hit.  Although Alan later claimed to not have seen any real royalties from the song until Britney Spears covered it twenty years later, it must have been huge validation nonetheless.  Although mere validation musical probably doesn’t pay the rent.


In the late ‘80s, a freakishly tall and buff friend of mine acted as a minder on the Meatloaf band’s brief visit to Iceland.  And knowing my interest in all things glam, he told me of a moment when the whole group went to Hard Rock Café for a meal, and while there ILRnR came on the restaurant’s sound system one member of the group belted out, “That’s my song! I wrote that!”  Indeed he did.

In later years Alan occasionally gigged and recorded, was very active on social media and appeared to be at long last reaping the awards of his life’s labour.  All the more sad and shocking then, when the news of his untimely demise at 69 broke late last month.  The ‘70s teenpop blog sends his friends and relatives its most sincere condolences.  


This COVID-19 crap is royally starting to piss me off.  Late last night I belatedly received the news another brilliant songwriter and musician, namely, Adam Schlesinger, lost his battle with the virus last week. 

Schlesinger, the co-founder of Fountains of Wayne, one of the best bands of the past 25 years IMHO, as well as a prolific writer for films and TV (That Thing You Do, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), not to mention a sought-after producer (The Monkees, They Might Be Giants), was only 52.  RIP.
Soon, hopefully, these "troubled times" shall pass.

3 comments:

  1. I was friends with Alan - he was undoubtedly the sole writer of ILRNR - a fact well- known to insiders and friends. If you listen to the RAK Records BBCradio show from a couple of years ago with Mike Chapman and Suzi Quatro they joke with Alan re Jake 'being in the room' when Alan wrote it. Besides which, Alan continued to write great songs up until his death Hooker never wrote a song in his life after the end of Arrows. Merrill gave Hooker a co write credit on Arrows B Sides to repay him for paying his air fare from Japan to UK.

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  2. And yes it was definitely Alan who write the replies to your previous Arrows post anonymously!

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