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’.”
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.