A popular rock and roll duo which formed in the late 1950s were Jan and Dean their full names being William Jan Berry and Dear Ormsby Torrence. This duo played the “surf music” that the Beach Boys had made popular. They had a string of successful hits including “Surf City”, “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena”, and “Dead Man’s Curve”. Jan and Dean were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008.
Jan and Dean were high school pals and entered a talent competition at their high school forming a doo-wop group called The Barons. Like other high school groups, they practiced in Berry’s garage. After the talent competition in 1958, this band drifted apart and left Berry and Torrence attempting to write their own songs.
Jan and Dean reached their peak of popularity in 1963 and 1964 during which time they met Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Over the eight-year period from 1958-1966 they scored an incredible 26 chart hits and one number one national hit “Surf City” which was written by Brian Wilson. While at the top Jan and Dean hosted and performed in the historic concert film The T.A.M.I. Show. This film included a string of rock and roll stars like The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, Gerry, and the Pacemakers, James Brown, Billy J. Kramer, and the Dakotas, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, Lesley Gore, Smokey Robinson, and the Miracles, and the Beach Boys.
Once the popularity of surf music died down Jan and Dean scored hits in 1965 with “You Really Know How to Hurt a Guy” and “I Found a Girl”. In April of 1966, Berry was involved in an auto accident and received head injuries. He wound up with brain damage and partial paralysis. Torrence meanwhile became a graphic artist and designed and created record album covers and logos for other recording artists and musicians. Then in April of 1967 Berry returned to the studio and began to write and produce music again. In 1967 Jan and Dean signed up with Warner Bros. Records.
However, their successes were far and few between and it was in the early 1970s that Jan began to sing again and produced some singles. Meanwhile, Dean started performing with a band known as Papa Doo Run Run. In 1973 Jan and Dean appeared at the Hollywood Palladium but in attempting to lip-sync Surf City failed miserably and were booed off the stage. In 1978 a TV movie aired about Jan and Dean titled Deadman’s Curve. They continued to tour throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The end of Jan and Dean as a duo came in March 2004 when Jan Berry died before his 63rd birthday. Dean Torrence continues to tour.