The Golden Sound of Surf: Jan Berry
By: Legacy Staff
4 years ago
As one-half of the duo Jan & Dean, Jan Berry helped to define the sound, look and spirit of 1960s surf culture in southern California. Berry died 10 years ago today, leaving behind a catalog that includes such classics as "Surf City," "Dead Man's Curve," "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena" and a string of Top 40 hits between 1958 and 1966.
The pair managed all of this success while enrolled as full-time college students. Dean Torrence studied at the University of Southern California while Berry was at UCLA taking music and science courses in preparation for medical school. Despite the demands of their respective classes, Jan and Dean managed to be recording in the studio, performing on television and making public appearances around the country in support of their part-time career as musicians.
The duo were wildly popular throughout the early 1960s, and in 1964 American International Pictures tapped them to host an all-star concert event that would be released theatrically on film. The result was the T.A.M.I Show, which included performances from top acts at the time, including the Rolling Stones, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, and Jan and Dean's friends, the Beach Boys. You can hear Jan and Dean extol the praises of almost everyone on the bill in the song they sang over the opening credits.
In 1966, tragedy struck when Berry crashed his Corvette on the way to a business meeting. The accident was only a short distance from the spot mentioned in "Dead Man's Curve." Berry spent two months in a coma and suffered long-lasting physical and mental injuries. Years of therapy derailed his career, and although he did eventually return to performing with his friend Dean, they never recaptured their early success.
Written by Seth Joseph. Find him on Google+.