Jan and Dean

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Jan and Dean

Jan and Dean, surf-harmony group who hit it big in the 1960s; Jan Berry (b. Los Angeles, April 3, 1941; Dean Torrance (b. Los Angeles, March 10, 1940). Jan Berry and Dean Torrance met at Emerson J.H.S. in L.A. Fascinated with the “doo-wop” sound of the 1950s, the two formed The Barons in 1957 with Arnie Ginsburg and, for a time, future Beach Boy Bruce Johnston and drummer Sandy Nelson. Reduced to a trio of Berry, Torrance, and Ginsburg, they recorded “Jennie Lee” in Jan’s garage. While Dean was serving in the Army Reserve, Jan signed with the Arwin label, owned by Doris Day’s husband Marty Melcher. Arwin released “Jennie Lee” under the name Jan and Arnie and the song became a near-smash hit in 1958. When Ginsburg dropped out to join the Navy in late 1958, Jan and Dean signed with the Dore label, managed by Lou Adler and Herb Alpert. They scored a near-smash on Dore with the novelty song “Baby Talk” in 1959, but the duo’s next major hit didn’t come until 1961, when “Heart and Soul” was released on Challenge Records

Later in 1961, Jan and Dean signed with Liberty Records. In the summer of 1962, the duo met The Beach Boys, whose Brian Wilson provided them with their first major hit on Liberty, “Linda.” Recording with sessions musicians such as Glen Campbell, Leon Russell, Steve Douglas, and Hal Blaine, Jan and Dean scored a top pop hit with Berry and Wilson’s “Surf City” in the summer of 1963. Subsequent major hits included “Honolulu Lulu,” “Drag City,” “Dead Man’s Curve,” the smash “The Little Old Lady (From Pasadena),” “Ride the Wild Surf,” and Wilson’s “Sidewalk Surfin’,” a precursor of the skateboard rage. In October 1964, Jan and Dean hosted a concert at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium that became the 1965 film The T.A.M.I. (Teenage Awards Music International) show, with performances by The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, The Supremes, The Miracles, and others. Later hits for Jan and Dean included “You Really Know How to Hurt a Guy” and “Popsicle,” but, by late 1965, they were recording the songs of Bob Dylan and The Beatles.

On April 12, 1966, Jan Berry was nearly killed when his Corvette Stingray, traveling at a high rate of speed, struck a parked truck. In a coma for nearly a year, Jan spent much of the next ten years undergoing intensive physical therapy for a condition that included paralysis of his right side and impaired speech, hearing, vision, and memory. In the meantime, Dean opened Kittyhawk Graphics, where he designed album covers. Jan and Dean recorded for Columbia and Warner Bros, between 1967 and 1968 and Jan recorded solo for Ode Records from 1972 to 1974. The two reunited to perform at Hollywood’s 1973 “Surfer’s Stomp Reunion.” After the airing of the biographical Dead Man’s Curve special on network television in February 1978, Jan and Dean reunited for performances with The Beach Boys. Jan and Dean continued to tour as an oldies act into the 1990s.


Jan and Dean (1960); the Heart and Soul of Jan and Dean (1961); Jan and Dean Take Linda Surfin’ (1963); Surf City (and Other Swingin’ Cities) (1963); Drag City (1963); Ride the Wild Surf (1964); The Little Old Lady from Pasadena (1964); Command Performance”Live” in Person (1965); Jan & Dean’s Pop Symphony No. 1 (1965); Folk ’n’ Roll (1965); Filet of Soul (1966); Jan and Dean Meet Batman (1966); Popsicle (1966); Save for a Rainy Day (1967).

—Hank Bordowitz