Arrows and the original version of the “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” single, 1975
I’m quite sure that everyone reading this has heard the anthemic “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” that was popularized by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts in 1981. But if you don’t know the origins of the song, then you’ve probably never heard of the Arrows, a rock trio comprised of musicians from both America and the UK—vocalist and Bronx native, Alan Merrill (the former vocalist for the cult glam band Vodka Collins), guitarist Jake Hooker (who went on to manage acts like The Knack and Edgar Winter), and UK drummer Paul Varley. Otherwise known as the band that actually wrote and recorded “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” back in 1975.
A shot of Arrows performing on their TV show
As the folklore goes, Jett was on tour with The Runaways in the UK when she caught Arrows (who formed in 1974) performing the song on their short-lived television show Arrows. Produced by well-known television personality, actress and producer, Muriel Young (who was also behind Marc Bolan’s show, Marc), the 30-minute show which was broadcast between 1976 and 1977, and featured the band performing their own songs—many prodcued by the great pop impressario Mickie Most—as well as “star guest” segments from acts like Slade, and a short-haired version of Marc Bolan who lip-synced in front a live studio audience.
As glammy and cool as The Arrows were (and they really were), they never enjoyed the same success with the single that Jett’s version of “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” did, and the band broke up after the the last run of their eponymously titled show, sometime in 1978. Jake Hooker married Lorna Luft, the daughter of Judy Garland and the half-sister of Liza Minnelli during his tenure with Arrows and they stayed together until 1993.
Arrows and “friend” in Music Star magazine, 1974
The only surviving member of the trio is vocalist Alan Merrill who still performs with his current group, The Alan Merrill Band, and guitarist Terry Taylor (co-founder of Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings), who joined the band making it a four-piece in 1976. I’ve included clips of Slade, Marc Bolan (sans top hat and mop top) and most importantly, the Arrows themselves kicking out the original version of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” on Arrows (complete with dry ice) back in the 70s when everything from hairstyles and rock and roll were 100% cooler than they are today.
Arrows performing their original version of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” on their show, ‘Arrows.’ The intro of the video is the intro from the show.
Marc Bolan performing the 1976 T-Rex single “Laser Love”
Slade performing their 1976 single, “Let Call it Quits” from the album ‘Nobody’s Fool’ on, ‘Arrows.’