'I Love Rock 'n' Roll' Songwriter Alan Merrill Dies at 69 from Coronavirus as Joan Jett Pays Tribute
Singer, guitarist, and songwriter Alan Merrill has died in New York at the age of 69 as a result of the coronavirus. Merrill was best known for writing the track “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Merrill originally wrote and recorded the iconic song while he was a member of the band the Arrows, who released the track in 1975. The song would later become a huge hit for Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, who topped the charts with the tune in 1982.
Merrill was inspired to write the song as a reaction to the Rolling Stones’ single “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It).” “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,” Merrill told songfacts.com. “I almost felt like ‘It’s Only Rock and 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.”
Merrill also played with Rick Derringer and Meatloaf as well as pursuing a solo career.
The musician’s death was announced by his daughter Laura on Facebook.
“The Coronavirus took my father this morning,” she wrote on Sunday. “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. I walked 50 blocks home still with hope in my heart. The city that I knew was empty. I felt I was the only person here and perhaps in many ways I was. By the time I got in the doors to my apartment I received the news that he was gone.”
Joan Jett has paid tribute to Merrill on Twitter.
“I’ve just learned of the awful news that Alan Merrill has passed,” she wrote. “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.”
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.