Personalities | Jan & Dean | Fifties | Rock

(Vocal duo, 1957–66)

In 1957, at Los Angeles high school, Jan Berry (1941–2004) and Dean Torrence (b. 1940), together with Bruce Johnston (later of The Beach Boys), drummer Sandy Nelson and Arnie Ginsburg, formed The Barons. Berry, Torrence and Ginsburg recorded ‘Jennie Lee’ (about a local stripper), which was released in 1958 and credited to Jan and Arnie, as Torrence was in the US Army reserves. Although it made the US Top 10, other Jan and Arnie singles flopped, and as Torrence returned, Ginsburg departed. With initial help from Lou Adler and Herb Alpert, Jan and Dean made surfing-style records. Their biggest hit was 1963 US No. 1, ‘Surf City’, co-written by Berry and Beach Boy Brian Wilson, while Torrence sang on 1966 Beach Boys hit, ‘Barbara Ann’. Also in 1966, Berry was seriously injured in a car crash, signalling the end of the duo as chart contenders.

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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, general editor Michael Heatley


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