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Glam black Alan Merrill: Glam rock star who composed the Joan Jett classic ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’


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Glam black Alan Merrill: Glam rock star who composed the Joan Jett classic ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’

Alan Merrill, who has died of coronavirus aged 69, had several claims to fame – writing a classic for an American rock star, fronting a British glam rock group of the 1970s and playing guitar with Meat Loaf. Arriving in Britain in 1974 after six years in Japan performing solo and with bands, the American…

Glam black Alan Merrill: Glam rock star who composed the Joan Jett classic ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’

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Alan Merrill, who has passed away of coronavirus aged 69, had several claims to popularity– writing a timeless for an American rock star, fronting a British glam rock group of the 1970 s and playing guitar with Meat Loaf.

Arriving in Britain in 1974 after six years in Japan carrying out solo and with bands, the American singer tapped into the glam rock period by forming the Arrows, with himself on bass guitar, Jake Hooker on lead guitar and Paul Varley on drums.

Signing with famous manufacturer Mickie The Majority Of‘s RAK label, they scored a Leading 10 single, “Touch Excessive” (1974), although the follow-up, “My Last Night with You”, reached just No 25 in the charts– however that was not completion of their short profession.

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The group’s streaming black locks of hair and vibrant good looks combined with a pulsating rhythm to bring in an audience of primarily teenage girls.

It was not a surprise when TELEVISION manufacturer Muriel Young, seeking to change Shang-a-Lang, Bay City Rollers’ kids’s pop program, included them in two series that ran throughout much of1976 The programme, simply entitled Arrows, likewise included prominent guests of the day, consisting of T Rex, Smokie, Gilbert O’Sullivan and Alvin Stardust.

American vocalist Joan Jett, then a member of punk band the Runaways, was on tour in Britain when saw the program and was astonished by the Arrows’ performance of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”, written by Merrill and Hooker.

She was determined to record it– but her fellow artists were not so eager. Instead, Jett went solo and, backed by former Sex Pistols members Steve Jones and Paul Cook, launched it as a B-side in 1979, with no success. 3 years later on, with her new band the Blackhearts, the black leather-clad vocalist made the song a worldwide hit. The vibrant cover reached No 1 in the United States and in other places. Dozens of acts have because released their own cover versions.

Merrill said the rock anthem was written as a “knee-jerk reaction” to the Rolling Stones’ “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (However I Like It)” and Mick Jagger’s social circle.

” I nearly felt like ‘It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll’ was an apology to those jet-set princes and princesses that he was accompanying– the aristocracy,” he explained. “That was my interpretation as a young man– ‘OK, I like rock ‘n’ roll’.”

Merrill (left) with the Arrows (ANL/Rex).

Although the Arrows included another guitarist, Terry Taylor, for the 2nd series of their TV program and changed to traditional rock ‘n’ roll, the band fell out with their record business and broke up in 1977.

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Merrill continued his career by performing solo, forming other bands and playing guitar on Meat Loaf’s worldwide gigs from 1986 to 1988.

He was born Allan Preston Sachs in the Bronx, New York City, to jazz musicians Helen Merrill, a vocalist, and Aaron Sachs, a saxophone and clarinet player. After participating in schools in Switzerland and Britain, he returned to the United States.

In 1968 he moved to Japan, where his mom was living and carrying out, and ended up being a guitar player in the band the Lead, taking her surname and taking pleasure in a hit single with “Blue Rose”. He then hit popularity as a solo artist there and had an acting role in the soap JiKan Desu-yo before forming effective glam rock group Vodka Collins.

On leaving Tokyo, Merrill headed to Britain and played bass guitar on drummer Cozy Powell’s Leading 20 solo hit “The Man in Black”.

After producing 3 Arrows songs, Mickie Many firmly insisted that “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” must only be the B-side to the fourth, “Broken Down Heart” (1975). His better half encouraged him that the tunes must be switched, however RAK stopped working to promote the release, as it did their 1976 album First Hit — and both failed to chart.

This followed a row with The majority of– their manager in addition to producer– who declined to release anymore of their records, regardless of the fact that they had their own TV series, since they had signed a deal with a brand-new supervisor.

Once the group broke up, Merrill formed the band Runner, who released a self-titled album in1978 He then went back to New York and played guitar with Rick Derringer live and on his 1983 LP Good Dirty Enjoyable

Lou Rawls taped Merrill’s tune “When the Night Comes” for his 1983 album of the very same name, notoriously played in space that year on the third US Challenger shuttle objective by the first African American astronaut, Guy Bluford.

From 1985 until his death, Merrill recorded lots of solo albums. The final one, It’s Always Rock ‘n’ Roll, was due for release at the end of April.

His 1977 marital relationship to design Cathee Dahmen ended in divorce. He is endured by his 2nd spouse, Joanna Lisanti, whom he wed in 1987, their daughter and the son and child of his first marriage, in addition to his mom.

Alan Merrill, vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, born 19 February 1951, died 29 March 2020

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