Jan and Dean

From Academic Kids

Jan Berry (April 3, 1941, Los Angeles -- March 26, 2004) and Dean Torrence (born March 10, 1940, Los Angeles) were a rock and roll duo popular from the late 1950s through the mid-1960s. Although Jan & Dean pre-dated The Beach Boys, they became most famously associated with the vocal "surf music" craze inspired by The Beach Boys.

Jan & Dean began singing together after football practice at University High School in Los Angeles. Primitive recording sessions followed soon after, in a makeshift studio in Jan's garage. They first performed on stage as The Barons at a high school dance. Their first commercial success was "Jennie Lee" (1958), a Top-10 ode to a local burlesque performer which Jan Berry recorded with fellow Baron Arnie Ginsburg. "Jan & Arnie" released three singles in all. After Dean returned from a stint in the army reserves, and Arnie went off to other pursuits, Berry and Torrence began to make music as Jan & Dean.

With the help of friend Herb Alpert and producer Lou Adler, Jan & Dean scored another Top-10 smash with Baby Talk (1959), and then scored a series of hits over the next couple of years. Playing local venues, they met and performed with the Beach Boys, and discovered the appeal of the latter's "surf sound". By this time, Jan Berry was co-writing, arranging, and producing all of Jan & Dean's original material. Jan signed a series of contracts with Screen Gems to write and produce music for Jan & Dean, as well as other artists.

Jan Berry and Brian Wilson collaborated on roughly a dozen hits and album cuts for Jan & Dean, including the number one national hit "Surf City" (1963). Subsequent Top-10 hits for Jan & Dean included "Honolulu Lulu" (1963), "Drag City" (1963), "Little Old Lady From Pasadena" (1964) and the eerily portentous "Dead Man's Curve" (1964). Between 1963 and 1966, Jan & Dean scored an impressive series of Top 40 songs, logging a total of 26 chart records in eight years.

Along with Phil Spector, Brian Wilson, and Lee Hazelwood, Jan Berry enjoyed a repuation as one of the best record producers on the West Coast. Brian Wilson has cited Jan as having a direct impact on his own growth as a record producer.

On April 12, 1966 Jan was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident, resulting in severe head injuries. Earlier that month, Berry had seperated from his long time girlfriend of seven years, singer-artist Jill Gibson, who later became a brief member of the Mamas and the Papas and who had co-written several songs with Jan. As a result of Berry's serious car accident, Jan & Dean did not perform again until the mid-1970s. Jan traveled a long and difficult road toward recovery from brain damage and partial paralysis.

In February 1978, Jan & Dean were reintroduced to America when the film biography "Deadman's Curve" aired on national television. The duo made steps toward an official comeback that year, touring with the Beach Boys. Jan & Dean continued to tour on their own throughout the '80s, '90s, and into the new mellenium with 1960s nostalgia providing them with a ready audience.

The ride officially ended with Jan Berry's untimely death on March 26, 2004, at the age of 62.

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