Alan Merrill

Born Allan Preston Sachs in The Bronx, New York on February 19, 1951, guitarist and singer Alan Merrill is best-known for writing the rock anthem "I Love Rock 'n' Roll”. The song was originally written for his band Arrows but was turned into a rock anthem by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts in 1982. Born the son of saxophonist Aaron Sachs and jazz vocalist Helen Merrill, he began his career in New York at the age of 14 after attending school in Switzerland. After playing around Greenwich Village between 1966 and 1968, he auditioned for a vacated spot in the band the Left Banke. His audition went well but the band broke up before he had the opportunity to join. He moved to Japan and spent time in a few successful bands including The Lead. Previously, he had performed under the name Alan Sachs but officially changed his professional surname to Merrill. He became an actor on Japanese television and released a solo album, Alone in Tokyo. He then formed Vodka Collins, who quickly became Japan’s most popular glam rock band thanks to the success of their 1973 album Tokyo – New York. Merrill then made his way to London, where he formed the glam rock trio Arrows with fellow American Jake Hooker and British drummer Paul Varley. The trio released a series of singles including 1975’s “Broken Down Heart”, which included the B-side “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” (written by Merrill but co-credited to Hooker). Shortly after the single’s release, the A and B-sides were flipped when “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” proved to be more popular. The band then hosted their own Granada Television series for two seasons but did not release any new music due to legal issues with their management and producer. After the second series ended, the band split and Merrill formed the group Runner. Returning to the United States, he played with artists such as Rick Derringer and Meat Loaf. He resurrected his solo career in 1985 with a self-titled release. He also participated in a brief Vodka Collins reunion in the late 1990s. His later solo releases include Numbers (2011) featuring the fan favorite "Trisha Uptown", Snakes and Ladders (2012), On a Blue Avenue (2017), and Radio Zero (2019). Alan Merrill died of COVID-19 in New York on March 29, 2020, at the age of 69.

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