Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
JAN and DEAN
USA pop vocal duo: Jan Berry (b 3 April 1941; d 26 March 2004), Dean Torrence (b 10 March 1940), both from LA. High school friends on the sun-kissed West Coast invented surf music (along with the Beach Boys) and had 24 Hot 100 entries '59-66. They attended high school with Nancy Sinatra, Phil Spector, Sandy Nelson, Bruce Johnson (future Beach Boy), Arnie Ginsberg, others; they played and sang with some of these, and played with recording equipment: Jan, Dean and Arnie made a demo of Arnie's song 'Jennie Lee'. Dean went into the U.S. Army for six months and the record came out on the Arwin label as by Jan and Arnie, a top ten '58. When Dean came out, Arnie was going into the Navy; Jan and Dean carried on, had hits but also went to college just in case, Jan studying art, Dean pre-med. 'Baby Talk' was no. 10 '59 on Dore, 'Heart And Soul' no. 25 on Challenge; they were signed by Liberty; 'Linda' was no. 28 '63. Beach Boy Brian Wilson helped them with their first album Jan And Dean Take Linda Surfin' and co-wrote 'Surf City' with Jan: after nine mostly minor hits on three labels, 'Surf City' was no. 1 '63.
Jan did most of Jan and Dean's writing; ten LPs charted, including a hits compilation and the soundtrack from Fabian’s beach movie Ride The Wild Surf '64, written by Jan. 'Drag City' was no. 10, 'Dead Man's Curve' no. 8, 'The Little Old Lady From Pasadena' no. 3 '63-4; they never made the top ten again. Dean was said to have sung lead on the Beach Boys' no. 2 hit 'Barbara Ann' '66. Their lifelong friendship was becoming strained when Jan hit a parked truck at 65 miles an hour in April 1966: three passengers were killed, he suffered brain damage, it was years before he could remember an entire song lyric and he died nearly 40 years later in poor health from the effects of it. He made demos for Lou Adler as therapy. Dean made solo album Save For A Rainy Day and formed the Kittyhawk graphics studio, which designed a great many album covers. They made an abortive comeback '73, occasionally gigged more successfully from '78. TV movie Dead Man's Curve '78 is not a bad treatment of their story. Compilations on various labels included Curb and EMI; two-CD Golden Hits was on One Way, also on that label was something called Drag City/Jan And Dean's Pop Symphony No. 1 with the Bel-Aire Pops Orchestra.