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1960s / Jan and Dean Surf City Video
Jan Berry and Dean Torrence, both born in Los Angeles, began singing together as a duo after football practice at University High School. 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, Hollywood, Ca, burlesque performer that Jan Berry recorded with fellow Baron Arnie Ginsburg. "Jan & Arnie" released three singles in all. After Torrence returned from a stint in the army reserves, Jan Berry and Dean Torrence began to make music as "Jan and Dean". Jan and Dean's commercial peak came between 1963 and 1966, as the duo scored an impressive sixteen Top 40 hits on the Billboard and Cash Box magazine charts, with a total of twenty-six chart hits over eight years. Jan and Brian Wilson collaborated on roughly a dozen hits and album cuts for Jan and Dean, including the number one national hit "Surf City" in 1963. Subsequent top 10 hits included "Drag City" (1963), "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena" (1964), and the eerily portentous "Dead Man's Curve" (1964). On April 12,1966, Berry received severe head injuries in a motor vehicle accident, ironically just a short distance from Dead Man's Curve in Los Angeles, two years after the song had become a hit. He was angry while driving because he had learned he was to be inducted into the military when had already completed two years of medical school, which he had been secretly attending. Berry had also separated from his girlfriend of seven years. As a result of his accident, Jan and Dean did not perform again until the mid-1970s, after the release of the feature film Deadman's Curve in 1978, which opened the doors for Jan and Dean to launch a successful and amazing comeback especially for Jan Berry. On February 3, 1978, CBS aired a made-for-TV movie about the duo entitled Deadman's Curve. The biopic starred Richard Hatch as Jan Berry and Bruce Davison as Dean Torrence, as well as appearances by Dick Clark, Wolfman Jack, and Mike Love and Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys. Following the release of the film, the duo made steps toward an official comeback that year, including touring with the Beach Boys. In the early 1980s, while Berry struggled to overcome drug addiction, Torrence toured briefly as "Mike & Dean," with Mike Love of the Beach Boys. But Berry got sober, beating the odds once again, and the duo reunited for good. Jan and Dean continued to tour on their own throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and into the new millennium with 1960s nostalgia providing them with a ready audience. On August 31, 1991, Berry married Gertie Filip at The Stardust Convention Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada. Torrence was Berry's best man at the wedding. Jan and Dean ended with Jan Berry's death on March 26, 2004, at the age of 62. Berry was an organ donor, and his body was cremated. On April 18, 2004, a "Celebration of Life" was held in Jan's memory at The Roxy Theatre on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California. Celebrities attending the event included Dean Torrence, Lou Adler, Jill Gibson, and Nancy Sinatra. Also present were many family members, friends, and musicians associated with Jan and Dean and the Beach Boys.