Alan Merrill, 'I Love Rock N Roll' Songwriter, Dead at 69 From Coronavirus Complications

Musician Alan Merrill, who co-wrote and recorded the first version of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" before Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, died on Sunday from complications of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. Merrill's daughter shared the sad news on her Facebook page. He was 69.

"The Coronavirus took my father this morning," Laura wrote. "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."

Laura said she was just at one of his recent performers only a few weeks ago and took the cover photo for his new album cover. He later texted her about having a cold.

"I've made a million jokes about the 'Rona' and how it'll 'getcha'...boy do I feel stupid," Laura wrote. "If anything can come of this I beg of you to take this seriously. Money doesn't matter. People are dying. You don’t think It’ll happen to you or your strong family. It has. Stay home if not for you...for others. For my dad. This thing is real."

In the end, Laura said her family will likely not be able to have a proper funeral.

"I just lost the greatest love of my life and won't be able to hug anyone because I've been exposed and need to self quarantine for two weeks....alone," she concluded. "I don't know how to process this. I'll need all of you to help me with that. Please stay safe. No one is immune to this and it is very real."

Merrill, the son of jazz singer Helen Merrill and jazz musician Aaron Sachs, was born in the Bronx, New York. He found his first taste of success in Japan after moving there with one of his early groups and became the first Westerner to become a pop star there.

In 1974, he put together The Arrows, who recorded in London. In 1975, he recorded they recorded "I Love Rock 'n' Roll." Although he did not score a hit with it, it became one of Joan Jett's signature tracks after she scored a hit with it in 1982. Her recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

"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," Jett tweeted Sunday. "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."

Merrill continued writing and recording for the rest of his life. His last album, Radio Zero, was released last year.


More than 2,400 deaths from the coronavirus have been reported in the U.S., including more than 770 in New York City alone. There are more than 140,000 confirmed cases in the U.S.

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