Alan Merrill, co-writer and singer of the original version of “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll,” has died at age 69 from COVID-19, according to his daughter, who shared the news on social media.
“The Coronavirus took my father this morning,” Laura Merrill wrote on Facebook on Sunday (March 29).
She continued: “I was given 2 minutes to say my goodbyes before I was rushed out. He seemed peaceful and as I left 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.”
“How could this be?” Merrill’s daughter said. “I was just at his show a couple of weeks ago. I had just photographed his portrait for his new album. Texted with him earlier. He played down the ‘cold’ he thought he had.”
“People are dying. You don’t think It’ll happen to you or your strong family. It has. Stay home if not for you…for others. For my dad. This thing is real. We probably won’t be able to mourn him properly with a funeral. I just lost the greatest love of my life and won’t be able to hug anyone because I’ve been exposed and need to self quarantine for two weeks….alone,” she said.
Merrill, born Allan Preston Sachs in New York, spent time in Japan and the U.K. throughout his music career. He formed the band the Arrows, with drummer Paul Varley and guitarist Jake Hooker, in 1974 in London. They released singles including “Touch Too Much,” “My Last Night With You” and “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll,” which he wrote with Hooker in 1975.
Merrill was lead vocalist on the Arrows’ original “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll,” but the song went on to be recorded and released by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. It was their version of the song, of course, that hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 in 1982.
Upon hearing of Merrill’s death, Joan Jett paid respect to him on Instagram, writing: “I’ve just learned of the awful news that Alan Merrill has passed. My thoughts and love go to his family, friends and music community as a whole. I can still remember watching the Arrows on TV in London and being blown away by the song that screamed hit to me. With deep gratitude and sadness, wishing him a safe journey to the other side.”
Although the Arrows split in the ’70s, Merrill later joined the band Runner (with Steve Gould, Mick Feat and Dave Dowle) and worked with artists like Rick Derringer and Meat Loaf.
He released several albums as a solo artist, with 2019’s Radio Zero being the most recent, and was playing live shows in New York up through March of this year.