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1960s / Jan and Dean Baby Talk
Jan Berry and Dean Torrence first became friends on the football team at L.A.'s University High, but Dean's first success came with Arnie Ginsburg (not the Boston DJ the duo scored a big doo-wop hit as Jan and Arnie with 1958's "Jennie Lee." That song, actually written about a stripper, gained Berry some friends in the business, including Herb Alpert and producer Lou Adler. Together with friend Torrence, who'd just returned from an Army stint, they developed a song called "Baby Talk." It was a smash, but it wasn't until 1963, with the release of the Four Seasons' inspired "Linda," that the Jan and Dean sound began to take shape. After meeting the Beach Boys on the L.A. scene, Jan befriended leader Brian Wilson, and thw two began work on what would become "Surf City." Inspired by the local scene and Wilson's very recent hits, "Surfin'" and "Surfin' Safari" -- and benefiting from Berry's amazing self-taught production skills, it went straight to Number One. The duo of Jan and Dean flourished well into the mid-sixties, weathering even the British Invasion. But on April 12, 1966, Berry's Stingray slammed into a parked gardener's truck (not at the site mentioned in "Dead Man's Curve," despite legend), and Jan entered a decade-long nightmare of physical recovery, drug abuse, and depression. By the mid-Seventies, amazingly, Berry could perform almost at normal, and the duo began an amazing comeback that lasted well into the mid-Eighties. Berry passed away in 2004.