One very important fact about Alan Merrill: He was the lead singer and songwriter of the first and original 1975 version of "I Love Rock N Roll" with his band, The Arrows. The song has become an enduring international rock anthem, recorded by Joan Jett, Britney Spears, and many others. Joan Jett saw Merrill perform the song on a British television pop show in '76, while on tour with her band, The Runaways, and she was deeply inspired. Her 1982 version of the song was number 1 for 8 weeks in the USA.
Alan Merrill was literally born into the world of music. Deemed Allan Sachs at birth, his parents, Helen Merrill, and sax/clarinetist Aaron Sachs of Earl 'Fatha' Hines Band, are world-renowned musicians.
After starting to play music in semi-pro bands in Greenwich Village, Alan eventually moved to Japan in his late teens. Starting his professional career in music with the RCA-Victor Tokyo-based recording group, The Lead, in 1968, Alan replaced Mark Elder as guitarist in the band. They had one hit single, titled "Blue Rose". It was also then that his management changed his name, professionally, to Alan Merrill. It's stuck ever since.
When The Lead broke up, Merrill went solo, recording two albums: "Merrill 1" and "Alone In Tokyo" in 1970 -'71. He became the biggest foreign pop star in Japan's domestic market, hosting his own segment on the popular TV show, "Young 720", acting in the soap opera, "Ji Kan Desu-yo", and being featured in commercials, including major campaigns for Nissan cars and Jun clothing. He was signed to the most powerful agency in Japan, Watanabe Productions. Alan soon grew tired of being a "teen pop idol" and left the agency, forming the hard-edged glam rock group Vodka Collins (as lead singer and guitarist) in 1972, with Hiroshi Oguchi.
The charismatic Oguchi was already a well-known drummer and media celbrity who had been with the chart hit popular band, The Tempters. Vodka Collins recorded one album, "Tokyo-New York", for EMI Records, and it's proved their most-enduring work. Now available on CD, it remains a consistent seller. Vodka Collins had three hit singles off of the album: "Sands Of Time", "Automatic Pilot", and "Billy Mars". The song, "Scratchin'", was used as the theme for a gangster TV show. All these songs were Merrill compositions, with Japanese lyrics added on a couple (which then became domestic market hits) by drummer Hiroshi Oguchi. After a dispute with their manager in 1974, Alan Merrill left Tokyo altogether.
Relocated to London, Alan formed his next band, The Arrows. As lead singer/bassist of that group, he had hits with "Touch Too Much", "My Last Night With You",and "I Love Rock 'N Roll". He also hosted a weekly TV series in 1976-77 called "The Arrows Show", on ITV/Granada Television. A book was written about the Arrows by Liverpool legend Bill Harry, the former Merseybeat editor, on Everest Books. Famed hit-maker Mickie Most produced the Arrows on his RAK record label. There was even an Arrows cartoon strip which ran for over a year.
When the new wave of punk rock swept the UK in '77, the Arrows became suddenly unfashionable, and disbanded. Merrill then set his sights on the USA, and formed the band Runner with British musicians Steve Gould (Rare Bird) on guitar, Mick Feat (Van Morrison Band) on bass, and Dave Dowle (Whitesnake) on drums. They recorded an album titled "Runner" for Island Records in late 1978, which charted in the USA. When the group broke up in 1980 (due to the legendary "musical differences" cliche), Merrill moved back from the UK to New York.
In 1980-83 1980-83, Merrill toured and recorded with Rick Derringer, contributing to his "Good Dirty Fun" "Live At The Ritz" and "Rick Derringer and Friends" albums, writing songs, singing, and playing guitar on these projects. This Derringer lineup also made a concert film for Sony, "The Rick Derringer Rock Spectacular", which featured all-star guests like Ted Nugent, Southside Johnny, and Edgar Winter. In 1985, Alan released a self-titled solo album for Polydor Records, a collection of all self-composed tracks. Some heavyweight friends contributing to this album were Steve Winwood, Mick Taylor, and Dallas Taylor. The album was a critical success with great reviews, but wasn't a chart hit. It was reissued in 1998 as the album "Never Pet A Burning Dog" in CD format.
In 1986, Alan joined Meat Loaf for the remainder of the 1980's and recorded the "Live At Wembley" and "Prime Cuts" albums with the band. In 1990, Alan Merrill got a part in the HBO television series "Encyclopedia Brown" playing rocker Casey Sparks. He also wrote the theme song of the show, which was titled "Who Done It? This was followed in the 1990's with his involvement as a vocalist in the Christmas album "Holiday Heroes" with a New York based producer. Two albums which were essentially Alan Merrill solo albums followed, released under a band name. The albums were "Blue Guru" and "Yes I Ram". Alan Merrill does not endorse or condone the sale of these two albums to his fans due to a legal contractual dispute leaving him without any pay at all for his lead vocal perfomances. Merrill did all the lead singing on these two discs, except for one vocal duet on each CD, with Arthur Alexander and Jim "Basketball Diaries" Carroll, respectively. Meanwhile, on a much happier and lucrative note, public demand in Japan for a Vodka Collins band reunion was overwhelming, and the group reformed in '95 to record the album "Chemical Reaction". The band also recorded two more CDs, "Pink Soup" and "Boy's Life" in 1997-98, all featuring Merrill's lead vocals, guitar, and compositions. In this millennium, Alan has released a new 21-song solo album, titled "Cupid Deranged", for sale in early 2002. The CD is a recorded look-back-over-the-shoulder at his career repertoire, spanning the years, mixed in with some newer Merrill compositions as well. For those of you who missed this artist the first time around, this record will fill you in on a most interesting artist. More recently, in winter 2002, he has released the seasonal solo album, "A Merrilly Christmas". In the spring of 2003, his double-album tribute to songwriters Arthur Alexander and Otis Blackwell, "Double Shot Rocks", was released to fantastic reviews. In the year 2004 Alan Merrill is releasing two new albums, one solo and one band. The solo album is titled "Aleecat" on MEC Records, and the Vodka Collins reunion reissue is titled "Boys In The Band", a compilation of three albums.
In 2006 Alan Merrill released the solo album "At The Candy Shop," and in 2007 he issued a tribute to the 60's band The Left Banke titled "Rive Gauche." In 2008 Merrill released three CDs, "The Aleecat, Live In Japan," the early career retrospective "Alien In Tokyo" in Japanese, and the maxi single EP "Hard Road."
In 2010 Alan Merrill released the first of a series of 4 solo albums "The Face Of '69" followed by "Numbers" (2011) then "Snakes and Ladders" (2012) and most recently "Songer Singwriter" (2013). Some little known facts about Alan Merrill-
As a composer, Alan Merrill has written songs recorded by such diverse artists as Lou Rawls, Rick Derringer, Chuck Jackson, Britney Spears, Runner, Freddie Scott, Felix Cavaliere, Queen Of Japan, Tiny Tim, Vodka Collins, Joan Jett, Five, Dan Penn, The Arrows, Spooner Oldham, Reverend Run, Troy Turner, Dragon Ash, Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin, LA Guns, Melanie C.
Alan was elected a New York Chapter Governor for NARAS, the Grammy Awards organization for two terms in the 1980's.
Alan's composition, "When The Night Comes" (as recorded by R&B great Lou Rawls in 1983), was taken into space by the first black astronaut in history, Guion Bluford. It was also the first LP ever played in outer space, and Alan Merrill wrote the title track! The album "When The Night Comes" by Rawls, also won two Beach Awards for best album, and the recording has a 5-star rating (full marks) in Rolling Stone magazine's album guide.
Alan was featured in a Nissan car commercial as a model in 1970, for the Nissan Sunny Excellent 1200 and 1400 campaigns. It was the biggest ad campaign ever by Nissan at the time, and the commercial ran 200 times a day on Japanese TV on all channels! He was also the poster boy for Jun clothing, Japan’s biggest young fashion company in the seventies.