Alan Merrill, the lead singer of the Arrows, has died due to complications from contracting the coronavirus.
Merrill, who is best known as the co-writer of and lead singer on the original ‘I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll’ song, was aged just 69 when he passed away. The news was confirmed by Merrill’s daughter, Laura Merrill, who said she was notified shortly after returning home from visiting her father in the hospital.
“I was given 2 minutes to say my goodbyes before I was rushed out,” Laura wrote in a post on social media. “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 added: “By the time I got in the doors to my apartment I received the news that he was gone. How could this be? I was just at his show a couple of weeks ago. I had just photographed his portrait for his new album. Texted with him earlier. He played down the ‘cold’ he thought he had.”
Merrill, who was born in The Bronx, New York City in 1951, first achieved fame when he moved to Japan in 1968 and joined the band The Lead who were signed to RCA Victor Records at the time. The band, which is thought to be the very first foreign Tokyo-based act, enjoyed huge success with their lead single ‘Akuma ga kureta Aoi Bara’ but it quickly ended after two American members of the band were deported. However, the group offered Merrill a taste of musical success and he continued to work as a musician in the country for five years.
After honing his skills in Japan, Merrill moved to London in 1974 and formed his new band the Arrows. Alongside drummer Paul Varley and guitarist Jake Hooker, Merrill and his group enjoyed chart success with a string of songs including ‘Touch Too Much’, ‘My Last Night With You’, and, of course, ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’—a song which was later covered by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts in the 1980s which earned critical acclaim.
Following the news of Merrill’s death, Joan Jett also took to social media to express her condolences. “I’ve just learned of the awful news that Alan Merrill has passed,” Jett wrote on Twitter.
“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.”
The ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease was first officially identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei in China. As of March 29th, more than 723,869 cases of COVID-19 have been officially confirmed but the actual number is thought to be much higher due to substantial under-reporting of cases.
With more than 34,000 people having died from the virus, COVID-19 has now spread into more than 180 other countries—including mainland Europe, South America and North America. Given the exponential growth in cases in countries like Italy, Spain and the UK, the WHO have now stated that Europe was the current centre of the pandemic.