About The Arrows Show:
This is a most unusual story about a band with their own television series. Please read on for the bizarre tale of The Arrows.
The Arrows Show was a weekly TV series in the UK which aired between 1976-77. It was produced by British pop music icon Muriel Young on the ITV / Granada network, which aired all over England and all the other territories where ITV is broadcast, Ireland, Scotland, Hong Kong, Australia and South Africa.
The format of the show was that the band Arrows would do three songs. There were two guests who performed, generally one well known and one up and coming act. There was also a dance troupe called Him and Us, who would do one or two go-go style numbers to hits of the day during the show.
The Arrows had two 14 week series, for a total of 28 aired shows. With repeats that's 56 airings of The Arrows show. Guests included The Drifters, Slade, The Bay City Rollers, Marc Bolan & T Rex, Slik, Pilot, Gene Pitney, Randy Edelman, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Flintlock, Dana, Lindsey DePaul, Billy J Kramer, Sheer Elegance, Paul Nicholas, The Glitterband, Midge Ure & Slik, Jonathon King, The Real Thing, Peter Noone, The Wurzels, Showaddywaddy, Billy Ocean, and many more.
Above photo of The Arrows by Gered Mankowitz. Band members from left to right- Jake Hooker, Alan Merrill, Paul Varley.
PRINCIPALS AND POINTS OF INTEREST
The stars of the show were an Anglo-American rock 'n pop band called The Arrows. The band members were Alan Merrill on lead vocals and bass guitar, Jake Hooker on guitar, and Paul Varley on drums. A late addition to the band was Terry Taylor on guitar, who joined for the second series. The band Arrows had three hit singles before the TV series ever started, "Touch Too Much," "My Last Night With You," and the first version of the 1975 classic rock song "I Love Rock 'N Roll," a song the band also wrote. "I Love Rock N Roll" was initially a b-side, which was flipped to an a-side for the second pressing. The band had only one TV appearance with that song, a show called "Pop 45," produced by Muriel Young. The influential Ms. Young liked The Arrows so much she decided to give them their own TV series based on their performance that day. It was a very lucky day for the band Arrows, who not only got their own TV series as a result of their performance of "I love rock n roll." Consider this. One year later, in the UK with her band The Runaways was a young Joan Jett, who caught the Arrows appearance on their 1976 TV show. She liked it so much got a copy of The Arrows recording of "I Love Rock 'N Roll," and of course some years later covered the song herself, with it going to number one in the USA for 8 weeks. This was a song that The Arrows producer had originally put on a b-side! He hadn't heard it as a hit song, but Joan Jett certainly did.
Arrows re-recording of the song at Abbey Road studios in London was made an a-side, a full month after it was released as a b-side. With no label support the Arrows version of the song barely made the top 50. England was in the midst of a newspaper strike, and there was a marked lack of airplay for the disc due to the late "flipping" of the song to an a-side. Moreover and the most important factor was that frankly there was very poor promotion by the Arrows record label.
Still, in time the song would prove to undeniably be The Arrows biggest contribution to rock music.
The band were an anomaly in the history of rock music, in that they had no current records released by their label during both TV series. 56 airings of The Arrows Show, and no records released. It's a one of a kind situation. Unprecedented in the music business. No other group in the history of rock music has had a TV show of their own and no records released. This was due to a dispute between the band's manager and the record label about the musical direction of the band. The Arrows had great tenacity, and rather than churn out mindless pop ballads, they stuck to their guns and would only record their own music. They were right, in that they had presented "I Love Rock 'N Roll" to their label, and the label didn't think it was a hit song. Something Joan Jett would disprove later by taking the record to number one and make into an international classic. The Arrows last single record, the dirge-like Phil Coulter song "Once Upon A Time," was released nearly two months before the first show of the band's first TV series appearance.
The group didn't like the songs their label were asking them to record, feeling that they were writing better material than the label were presenting them to release. The band decided to put their collective feet down, and demand that they record their own material. The label said no, and then a cold war between the band, the band's management, and the label started, resulting in the group having no product released during either of their weekly TV series. It's a sad story, but also a story of musical integrity by the band. History proved that they were indeed coming up with the goods, and you can't really present a label a more obvious hit song than "I love rock 'n roll." If they weren't going to hear that as a hit, the label weren't going to hear anything as a hit song written by the band.
Muriel Young, the show's producer, is a legend in British television, having hosted many shows, including "Thank Your Lucky Stars," a show featuring new and upcoming bands who did very well indeed, like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, the Kinks and others.
The Arrows broke up after the second TV series due to the immense frustration of not being able to release records during the airings of their shows. This in spite of Muriel Young offering them a third weekly series.
Ironically this band's musical integrity has enhanced their cult status today. They made a stand against the system, and are unique in rock history as the only band to have a TV series with no current recorded product released. The total waste of a dream format for a band by their record label.
Other interesting facts about The Arrows Show:
The main dancers, Him and Us, were twins Teri and Leslie Scoble. They augmented their dance group with various males and females added to the troupe as weeks went by. Film buffs will like to know that the two Scoble sisters had already brushed fame as main character child actors in the film "Village Of The Damned".
The US born Arrows singer Alan Merrill was with the Japanese early 70s cult glam rock band Vodka Collins before forming the Arrows. Their EMI-Japan album "Tokyo-New York" is an underground classic. He was the first foreigner to break in to the top level of the domestic Japanese rock music market. Alan Merrill went on to play with bands Runner, Derringer, Meat Loaf and others after The Arrows. He has released a number of solo albums in the new millennium, including "Cupid Deranged," "Never Pet A Burning Dog," "Double Shot Rocks," "A Merrilly Christmas," and "At The Candy Shop."
Guitarist Jake Hooker retired from playing music after the Arrows, and married (actress Judy Garland's daughter) Lorna Luft, becoming her manager. He is still a rock manager today, guiding the careers of Edgar Winter, Orleans, and The Knack. He also is a certified stock broker and trader.
After The Arrows broke up Paul Varley played drums with the band Darling, and was June Bolan's (Marc Bolan's ex-wife) live in lover. They had one child, Ilona. In 1980 British born Paul Varley left the UK to reside in LA, and played drums with the Terry Reid band.
In 2002 Paul Varley returned to England. Sadly, he died in 2006 of complications from recurring bouts with pneumonia, in London.
Terry Taylor plays guitar and is musical director with Rolling Stone Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, a job he has had since The Arrows demise. The Rhythm Kings have recorded a large body of work together with the all star band.
There are some previously unreleased Arrows recordings available on various re-issues in the new millennium.
The Arrows most well known composition "I Love Rock N Roll" has lived on long after the group disbanded. They undeniably left a big footstep in the sands of rock n roll with that song. It is still a popular song, through generation after generation, some 35 years after the Arrows first wrote and recorded it.
Arrows Show video captures:
Arrows Show video sample clips (below):
Photo below- Arrows phase two, second series, with new addition Terry Taylor. Cover of Look-In, the British TV Guide.
Clockwise from top of sketch - Alan Merrill, Paul Varley, Jake Hooker and Terry Taylor.
Singer Alan Merrill rocks out on The Arrows Show - series 2 - (below)
The Arrows original trio. Taking a break from recording - (below)
Alan Merrill sings a ballad on The Arrows Show - series 1 (below)
Page updated- Feb. 9, 2013-