Alan Merrill, Arrows frontman and songwriter of Joan Jett's ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’, dies at 69 from coronavirus
Musician Alan Merrill died aged 69 on Sunday, March 29, following complications from coronavirus. Merrill's daughter, Laura, shared the news in a heartbreaking announcement made on her Facebook page.
The vocalist, bassist, and songwriter gained fame for being the co-writer and lead singer of the song 'I Love Rock 'n' Roll' which was recorded by his band, the Arrows, in 1975. The song would later go on to become a massive hit after Joan Jett & the Blackhearts covered it in 1982. But even before the song's unprecedented success, Merrill was already a big name in his own right, even becoming the first Westerner to find fame in Japan, having begun his career in a foreign Tokyo-based act called The Lead, who had one hit single titled 'Akuma ga kureta Aoi Bara', also called 'Blue Rose'.
Merrill was also known for being widely talented because in addition to his singer-songwriter credentials the artist was also a multi-instrumentalist, an actor, and a model, having acted in Japanese TV soap opera 'Jikan Desu Yo' and hosting his own corner on a morning show for teenagers as well as modeling in ads for brands like Nissan cars and GT Jeans.
He later formed the glam-rock band 'Vodka Collins' which would go on to achieve success in Japan in the early 70s before forming the Arrows and eventually finding success in the West as well.
The songwriter's passing puts an end to a fascinating career that traversed geographical borders. His daughter's heartbreaking message began by saying, "I woke up normally yesterday with the world at my feet and now today I lay here empty."
She shared, "The Coronavirus took my father this morning. I was given 2 minutes to say my goodbyes before I was rushed out. He seemed peaceful and as I left there was still a glimmer of hope that he wouldn’t be a ticker on the right hand side of the CNN/Fox news screen." She continues, "By the time I got in the doors to my apartment I received the news that he was gone."
She also adds that he had only recently been photographed for his latest album and had a show a few weeks ago, adding that she had "texted with him earlier." Merrill had been dealing with what he presumed to be a cold, and he and his daughter joked about " the “Rona” and how it’ll “getcha”." Laura adds, "..boy do I feel stupid."
She goes on to plead with her audience to take the pandemic seriously, stating "If anything can come of this I beg of you to take this seriously. Money doesn’t matter. People are dying. You don’t think It’ll happen to you or your strong family. It has."
Laura also asks everyone to heed this advice, saying "Stay home," adding "if not for you...for others. For my dad."
Due to the fears around health and safety, many who lose their loved ones have been unable to hold proper funerals for them. Laura, sadly, finds herself in the same situation, stating "We probably won’t be able to mourn him properly with a funeral."
Her message ends with her saying, "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 adds, "Please stay safe. No one is immune to this and it is very real."
Musician Joan Jett also took a moment to express her condolences to Merrill's family and friends, tweeting an image of the writer that created one of her greatest hits along with a message that reads, "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." She adds, "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."