Alan Merrill, a Songwriter of ‘I Love Rock ’n’ Roll,’ Dies


He recorded two solo albums in Japan: “Alone in Tokyo” (Atlantic, 1971), in Japanese, which yielded another hit, “Namida” (“Teardrops”), and “Merrill 1” (Mushroom, 1972), in English. At the same time, he played with the popular glam-rock group Vodka Collins, and acted in a television soap opera, “Jikan Desuyo.”

But by 1974 — after a disagreement with his talent manager, he said — Mr. Merrill left for London, and helped start a new glam-pop band, the Arrows, for which he was the singer and bassist. The group had a Top 10 hit in Britain in 1974 with “Touch Too Much.” A single the next year, “Broken Down Heart,” was unsuccessful, but its B-side, “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll,” written by Mr. Merrill and Jake Hooker, the guitarist for the Arrows, would eventually become a classic.

The song caught the ear of Ms. Jett, who recorded it for the first album with her band the Blackhearts, released in 1981. It held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for seven weeks the following year, and — with a few tweaks to place the song from a woman’s point of view — launched Ms. Jett’s career as a tough-talking rock star.

“I can still remember watching the Arrows on TV in London and being blown away by the song that screamed hit to me,” Ms. Jett recalled in a Facebook post on Sunday.

In a 2009 interview with the website Songfacts, Mr. Merrill described “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll” as a “knee-jerk response” to the 1974 Rolling Stones song “It’s Only Rock ’n Roll (But I Like It),” and to Mick Jagger’s elite social circle.

“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,” Mr. Merrill said. “That was my interpretation as a young man: OK, I love rock ’n’ roll.”

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