Jake Hooker: Guitarist with Seventies pop band Arrows

His ‘I Love Rock’n’Roll’ later became a huge hit for Joan Jett

Jake Hooker was the guitarist with Arrows, the good-looking Anglo-American pop trio that the record producer Mickie Most signed to his label RAK in 1974 – and aimed squarely at the teenybopper market. Most produced five of the six Arrows singles, including the stomper “Touch Too Much”, their introductory Top 10 hit penned by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, the Midas touch songwriters for Sweet, Suzi Quatro, Mud and Smokie, and the ballad “My Last Night With You”, written by Roger Ferris.

All the while, Hooker and his bandmate, the bassist and lead vocalist Alan Merrill, were campaigning for their own material to be promoted from B-side to A-side status, only for Most to dig in his heels, even when they played him “I Love Rock’n’Roll”, their response to the Rolling Stones single “It’s Only Rock’n’Roll (But I Like It)”.

“My gut reaction on first hearing it was, ‘What do you mean it’s only rock’n’roll but you like it? I love rock’n’roll!’ And it sort of snowballed from there,” explained Hooker about the song he composed with Merrill in half an hour. “We felt it was the best thing we had ever written.” Yet Most only made it the B-side of their fourth release, “Broken Down Heart”, another Ferris composition, which received lukewarm reviews. This prompted Most to belatedly flip the sides. By then, though, the group had lost momentum, even if they secured a slot on 45, the Granada Television pop programme produced by Muriel Young, who was so impressed by their performance of “I Love Rock’n’Roll” that she signed Arrows to host their own eponymous series.

However, the impasse with Most continued. He tasked Bill Martin and Phil Coulter with producing and co-writing the majority of First Hit, the sole Arrows album, and RAK failed to capitalise on the exposure the group gained during the two series of 14 programmes they presented in 1976 and 1977.

All was not lost, though, as Joan Jett caught Arrows on TV while on a UK visit with The Runaways in 1976, even if she failed to convince the rest of the all-girl band that they should record “I Love Rock’n’Roll”. In 1979, Jett cut the track for a B-side with Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols, before reviving it two years later with her group the Blackhearts to create the definitive version that topped the US charts for seven weeks in 1982.

Born Jerry Mamberg in Haifa, Israel, in 1953, he grew up in New York, and formed a band called Streak with Merrill, before teaming up with him again in London, where the former Who manager Peter Meaden suggested their new target-related name. The most business-savvy member of Arrows, Hooker retired as a musician in 1978 and formed Hook Entertainment, an umbrella company for his subsequent career managing his first wife, Lorna Luft, Judy Garland’s second daughter, as well as Eddie Money, The Knack, Missing Persons, Edgar Winter and Rick Derringer.

Jerry Mamberg, aka Jake Hooker, songwriter, guitarist, manager: born Haifa, Israel 3 May 1953; married 1977 Lorna Luft (one son, one daughter, marriage dissolved 1993); died Malibu, United States 4 August 2014.

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