“I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” is a rock song written in 1975 by Alan Merrill of the Arrows, who recorded the first released version. The song was later made famous by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts in 1982. Alan Merrill still plays the song live in Europe, Japan and most often in his hometown of New York City.
The song was originally recorded and released by the Arrows in 1975 on Rak Records, with lead vocals, guitar, music & lyrics written by Alan Merrill and produced by Mickie Most. In an interview with Songfacts, Merrill said he wrote it as “a knee-jerk response to the Rolling Stones’ ‘It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It)’.” This version was first released as a B-side but was soon re-recorded and flipped to A-side status on a subsequent pressing of the record. The Arrows performed the song in 1975 on the Muriel Young-produced show 45, after which Young offered the Arrows a weekly UK television series, Arrows, which was broadcast on ITV starting in March 1976.
Joan Jett saw the Arrows perform “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” on their weekly UK television series Arrows when she was touring England with the Runaways in 1976. She first recorded the song in 1979 with two of the Sex Pistols: Steve Jones and Paul Cook. This first version was released on vinyl in 1979 on Vertigo records as a B-side to “You Don’t Own Me”. In 1981, Jett re-recorded the song, this time with her band, the Blackhearts. This recording became a U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number-one single for seven weeks. Billboard ranked it at the No. 3 song for 1982. The single was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, representing two million units shipped to stores with Jett’s I Love Rock ‘n Roll album reaching number two on the Billboard 200. Joan Jett’s version was ranked No. 89 in the list 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of Rolling Stone and has also been inducted into the Grammys Hall of Fame in 2016.
“I Love Rock ‘n Roll”‘s black-and-white music video received heavy play from the just-launched MTV network. In it, Jett and the Blackhearts travel to a small, dingy bar and proceed to excite the drunken crowd by performing the song and yelling out its chorus. A snippet of Jett’s 1981 hit “Bad Reputation” can be heard at the beginning of the video. The video was originally in color, but it was converted to black and white because Jett hated the look of her red leather jumpsuit in color.
In 1993 Joan Jett & the Blackhearts made another music video for the song as part of the Wayne’s World 2 soundtrack. In the video appear several scenes from the movie with Mike Myers and Dana Carvey mixed with footage of Jett and her band in concert. It was again released as a single by Warner/Reprise with “Activity Grrrl” as the B-side.
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