Alan Merrill has had a long and varied career as a pop musician on three continents.
Born Allan Sachs, the son of singer Helen Merrill and horn man Aaron Sachs, singer, guitarist, bassist, and songwriter Merrill played in several bands in Greenwich Village as a teen before moving to Japan, where, as a member of the group the Lead, he signed a recording deal with RCA Victor Tokyo in 1968. The Lead had one big hit in Japan, "Aoi Bara," before breaking up, leaving Merrill as a solo act. He recorded two albums in 1970 and 1971, Merrill 1 and Alone in Tokyo, becoming a huge star in Japan's domestic market, working as a TV host and soap opera actor as well as recording music. Tired of being viewed as a "teen idol," Merrill formed the glam rock group Vodka Collins with drummer Horoshi Oguchi, recording the enduring Tokyo-New York album for EMI Records, which spawned three hit singles, including a beautiful Merrill composition, "Sands of Time." Merrill left Vodka Collins to form the Arrows in the U.K. in 1974. Among the groups' hits was the first version of "I Love Rock N Roll," later an even larger smash for Joan Jett. Merrill continued his television appearances in Britain, hosting a weekly series called The Arrows Show. When punk hit, the Arrows broke up, and Merrill formed the band Runner, recording the self-titled Runner for Island Records in 1978 before returning to the States, where he joined Rick Derringer's band. He released a solo album on Polydor in 1985, then joined Meat Loaf's band for a pair of albums. He had a recurring part in the HBO series Encyclopedia Brown, and began working with producer Jon Tiven in the Jon Tiven Group. Demand for a Vodka Collins reunion brought him back to Japan for three reunion albums by the band in the late 1990s. In 2002 Merrill released a 22-song solo project called Cupid Deranged, which was in essence a career retrospective. A holiday album, A Merrilly Christmas appeared that same year. A double-album tribute to songwriters Arthur Alexander and Otis Blackwell, Double Shot Rocks, saw release in 2003, followed by another solo project, Aleecat, in 2004. ~ Steve Leggett