Alan Merrill, the singer and co-writer of the original version of "I Love Rock 'N Roll", has died at the age of 69. According to his daughter Laura, he passed away of complications from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
In 1975, Merrill recorded "I Love Rock 'N Roll" with his band the ARROWS. Seven years later, JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS' version of the track became a No. 1 single in the U.S. and remained at the top of the chart for seven weeks.
Jett issued a statement earlier today, saying: "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."
In a 2009 interview with Songfacts, Merrill stated about the inspiration for of "I Love Rock 'N Roll": "That [song] was a knee-jerk response to THE ROLLING STONES' 'It's Only Rock 'N' Roll'. I remember watching it on 'Top Of The Pops'. I'd met Mick Jagger socially a few times, and I knew he was hanging around with Prince Rupert Lowenstein and people like that — jet setters. I almost felt like 'It's Only Rock 'N' Roll' was an apology to those jet-set princes and princesses that he was hanging around with — the aristocracy, you know. That was my interpretation as a young man: Okay, I love rock and roll."
He elaborated on how the track came together: "You have to write a three-chord song with a lick that people remember, and it has to build. So I had the chorus, which to me sounded like a hit. And I thought, I'll do something really unusual. I'll write it that this is a song separate from the verse. So the actual chorus is something that's coming out of a jukebox, and the two kids in the disco who are flirting are hearing this song that's a hit. It felt like 'The Twilight Zone'. I was so sure 'I Love Rock 'N Roll' was gonna be a hit for the ARROWS that I thought, well, when we have a hit with it, it's gonna be a hit within a hit. A fictional hit coming out of the chorus with the kids singing it as their favorite song in the verse of the song… So when it actually became a huge hit for Joan Jett, my 'Twilight Zone' concept came true. And I don't think too many people get that about the song. They just like the melody, and it's catchy. But it was actually a pretty clever stroke, one that I'm proud of."
Photo credit: Roger Erickson
— Joan Jett (@joanjett) March 29, 2020
I’ve been trying to sleep but I can’t. I woke up normally yesterday with the world at my feet and now today I lay here...
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