Something for music trivia buffs...
The song "I Love Rock N Roll" has been recorded and performed by The Arrows, Joan Jett, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Dragon Ash, Five, The Family Players, L'Arc En Ciel, Guildo Horn, Johnny Hallyday, Weird Al Yankovic, Hayseed Dixie, The Queen Of Japan, Joe Piscopo, Scum Rats, Rosalia, Love & Fitness, Elephant Love, Nitocris, DJ Niko, Joe Christmas, Jive Bunny and the Party People, Aerolineas Federales, Hit Crew, Ghotti Hook, Friction, Forever Young, Reverend Run, French Connexion, Krisenka Finley, Salome Clausen, Hideaki Matsuoka, Angela Bassett, Showaddywaddy, Griva, Anna Abreu, Kizooks, Arno Diem, Dresden Dolls, Hitboutique, Vodka Collins, Les Enfoires, CJ jr, Mami Kubota, The Countdown Singers, Girl Authority, The Lollies, Harry Truman's Outhouse, Mighty McFly, Kathy X, Wild, Hello, The Chickz, Lee Da Hae, Melanie C. and many more.
The story of "I Love Rock N Roll" began in London England in 1975, where a band called The Arrows were trying to come up with a song for their fourth single. They had already scored two hits at the top of the UK charts at that point in time, "Touch Too Much" and "My Last Night With You," produced by Mickie Most on his RAK records label.
The Arrows recorded two songs as possible singles for their next release, the titles were "Broken Down Heart" and "I Love Rock N Roll." The band went into Morgan Studios in London in early '75 and recorded both songs. The Roger Ferris composition "Broken Down Heart" was worked on for many hours, and the band composed title "I Love Rock N Roll" was knocked out in a fast 45 minutes. When they were done, Mickie Most, who really wasn't totally sold on the song from the get go, didn't hear the energetic raw "I Love Rock N Roll" as a hit, instead putting the polished ballad "Broken Down Heart" on the A-side of the single.
Reviews for "Broken Down Heart" were lukewarm, so under pressure from his wife Christina and RAK staffers who all loved the song "I Love Rock N Roll." Most flipped the record and put "I Love Rock N Roll" on the A-side. It was too late for any serious promotion, but the record was getting very positive attention from the press in reviews. The Arrows did not get much promotion on the single, and it was a still-born, or so it seemed.
The band did only one appearance on TV with the flipped single, a show produced by Muriel Young called "45." The Arrows lineup at the time of the recording was Alan Merrill lead vocals / bass guitar / keyboards, Jake Hooker on guitar / background vocals, and Paul Varley, drums / background vocals. A three piece band. The song "I Love Rock N Roll" was written by two of the Arrows band members, Alan Merrill and Jake Hooker.
Given only one sole appearance that year on television with "I Love Rock N Roll," on the Muriel Young produced show "45," the band did a great performance. Arrows frontman Alan Merrill gave one of the most convincing inspired performances of his life that day with the song, and the band shone like seasoned pop stars on camera. The performance was so good in fact that Ms Young offered the band their own weekly TV series that day. The Arrows did get their own weekly TV series a few months later, so it can be said it was a very good day for the group, all in all.
Something even more interesting was happening about a year later in a hotel room in London while the Arrows were performing their song "I Love Rock N Roll" on their weekly British TV series "The Arrows Show." Joan Jett, on tour in England with her band The Runaways, was watching an Arrows TV performance of "I Love Rock N Roll," and she was deeply moved by the group's song. She made it a point to get the Arrows recording of the tune while she was in the UK. It was a day that would ultimately change Joan Jett's life in a very dramatic and positive way.
The stars were lined up for the song on that day.
At this point Joan Jett enters the story, and destiny was calling her number -
MYTHS, RUMOURS, AND URBAN LEGENDS -
It is not widely known that the first cover version of "I Love Rock N Roll" as recorded by Joan Jett was released in 1979! This is not the 1982 #1 chart hit version. This early version was recorded in London with two of the band members of The Sex Pistols, guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook. A full three years before Joan Jett would release the definitive multi platinum 1982 version. This early version appears on Joan Jett's retrospective "Flashback" album.
Many myths abound regarding the legend of the song. The most flagrant source of information that stretches the truth beyond all boundaries of reality appears in the "Billboard Book Of Number One Hits." In this ridiculous piece of faux journalism, it suggests that in 1981, Joan Jett called (Arrows guitarist and the song's co-writer) Jake Hooker, and "asked for his permission to record the song," quote. That's simply prevarication, and a perfect example of Mr Hooker's delusional self-agrandissment. Anyone who knows anything about music publishing knows that once a song has been recorded, (as "I Love Rock N Roll" had been with The Arrows in 1975) an artist would only require a license from the publisher to record a cover of the song.
The songwriters don't come into the equation where permission to record a song is concerned, only the publisher matters, and in this case it was RAK music publishing, owned by music mogul Mickie Most. But even more obviously, Joan Jett, having already recorded and released another version of the song in 1979 would have known this fact. Especially considering at that point, in 1981, she was a long time music industry professional dating back to her band The Runaways in the early seventies.
Also, in the Billboard piece Jake Hooker denigrates his own band The Arrows original 1975 version of the song, saying, quote "anyone could have done it better! " Considering he wasn't the lead singer of The Arrows, and also that he's made a bundle of money as a co-writer of the song, Mr. Hooker is pretty ungrateful in his whimsical dismissal of his old band The Arrows. Belittling the original 1975 version of the song that sparked so many hit permutations and versions is folly. Still, considering he was actually dismissed from the group in 1977 and replaced by Steve Gould of the band Rare Bird, it's understandable that he might have an axe to grind with the other Arrows. All this gossip aside, and far more important, the fact is indisputable that The Arrows version of the song impressed and inspired Joan Jett enough for her to cover it, not just once, but twice. The Arrows 1976 televised performance of the tune must have been quite an epiphany for the young Ms Jett.
The "Billboard Book Of Number One Hits," and their entry for "I Love Rock N Roll" is a sloppy work of fiction. It's actually laughable. The paragraphs in the pathetic Billboard piece were written by Fred Bronson, who should be ashamed of himself for doing such shoddy and shallow research. These so-called rock history information books should contain facts, not fantasy.
The other obvious pervasive myth is the misconception that Joan Jett wrote "I Love Rock N Roll." She did not, and that subject has been covered in detail earlier on this page. She hasn't really talked about that fact much in the press. It has also been noted that there are no composer's credits at all in the liner notes of the Joan Jett and The Blackhearts reissue of the album "I love rock n roll" on Blackheart Records. The lack of songwriter credits on the reissue (whether intentional or an oversight) seems intended to perpertuate the myth that Ms Jett wrote the song.
There is often some confusion on the songwriting credits for the title "I love rock 'n roll." On some versions it lists the writers as Alan Merrill and Jake Hooker, and on others it lists Allan Sachs and Jerry Mamberg. The reason for this is simple. This is because Allan Sachs is Alan Merrill's legal name, and Jerry Mamberg is Jake Hooker's legal name. Same people, different "pen names."
The Arrows recorded two versions of the song in 1975. The first at Morgan Studios, the second at Abbey Road Studios, both produced by Mickie Most. The third version was recorded at Strawberry Studios in Manchester for the Arrows Granada TV series in 1976, and was produced by the band. All three versions sound different, as the band were touring and playing the song live, so it changed with each subsequent recorded version.
An urban legend associated with the song is that Britney Spears, when asked by a journalist what it was that compelled her to record her own version of "I love rock n roll" (on her millenium album release titled "Britney") she replied "I have always loved Pat Benetar." It is true that Britney said it, but she was being sarcastic. People don't credit pretty blondes with the potential for having verbal claws. In this case Britney was simply tired of being asked Joan Jett questions vis a vis "I love rock n roll," and let fly with a sarcastic answer, irritated at the repetition of the same question being asked over and over. The media scooped it up as gospel, and yet another myth associated with the song was born.
An interesting fact. According to Steve Lunt, Britney Spears' A&R man at Jive Records, Britney is said to have listened to The Arrows recording before recording her own version. Not, as most people would assume, Joan Jett's version. Britney was astute enough to want to research what had inspired Joan Jett to begin with on hearing the original Arrows 1975 version. She wanted to go to the source, a smart move. You don't get to Britney's level in the music business and sustain that success for years without being instinctively clever.
In the United States it's widely thought that the Britney Spears version of "I love rock n roll" was never released as a single, even though the song was the centerpiece of her film "Crossroads" in the now famous karaoke scene. In fact, Britney released the song as a single all over the world except for the USA, and Britney's version was actually a top ten hit in the UK, Asia, and Europe!
There is also a demi-myth that The Arrows record was a B-Side. That is true, and it was that on first pressing of the single, but it was later flipped to A-Side status, a fact curiously ignored by most books on the subject of this song, but in full evidence in the photo at the top of this page.
To keep this site totally up to date, here is some interesting news:
In January of 2008, Jake Hooker sold his entire co-writer's share of the song to the Music Sales Group for an undisclosed sum, so he is no longer involved in any decisions regarding the song. The song is now solely owned by RAK-EMI Music Publishing, the Music Sales Group, and co-writer Alan Merrill, who has held on to his half writer's share of the song.
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