The music world mourned the passing of two prominent performers, as country musician Joe Diffie and songwriter Alan Merrill, who is best known for penning the hit song “I Love Rock N Roll” both died from complications caused by coronavirus yesterday. Diffie passed away at the age of 61 while Merrill was 69.
Diffie announced that he had the virus a couple of days prior to his passing. “My family and I are asking for privacy at this time. We want to remind the public and all my fans to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic,” the statement said.
Merill’s death was announced by his daughter on Facebook, where she vividly described the final moments and her experiences around the time of his death. “The Coronavirus took my father this morning. 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,” she explained.
Diffie was an Oklahoma native, and responsible for 13 albums and more than 20 Top 10 hits during his time as a singer-songwriter. His most recognizable songs included “If the Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)” and “Honky Tonk Attitude.”
Diffie’s touring partner, friend and fellow country music singer-songwriter Travis Tritt mourned Diffie’s passing in a post on Twitter. “This comes as a huge shock to all of us in the country music community. Deepest condolences to Joe’s family, friends and fans,” Tritt wrote.
I just learned that @JoeDiffieOnline has passed away due to complications from the Coronavirus. Joe was a friend and touring partner with me in the 90’s. This comes as a huge shock to all of us in the country music community. Deepest condolences to Joe’s family, friends and fans.
— Travis Tritt (@Travistritt) March 29, 2020
Merrill was best known as a member of The Arrows, when he originally wrote and performed the hit song “I Love Rock N Roll.” Joan Jett & The Blackhearts famously covered the track, which allowed her to launch into superstardom during the beginning of her solo career.
The songwriter was born Alan Sachs in the Bronx, before moving to Tokyo, Japan as a teen, where he was involved with the band The Lead. He released two solo projects in Japan titled Merrill 1 and Alone in Tokyo, before forming The Arrows in London. The performer stated that the song “I Love Rock N Roll” was originally a response to the Rolling Stone’s hit single “It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It).”
Joan Jett, who came across the band in the mid 1970s, which inspired her to make the cover, mourned Merrill’s passing in a statement on Twitter. “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. 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,” her statement reads.
— Joan Jett (@joanjett) March 29, 2020