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Jan & Dean

Biography

Surf City's doors may have closed after Jan Berry's death in March of 2004, but the waves of West Coast beaches still pump in rhythmic sets to the surf music that he and his friend Dean Torrence pioneered in the late 1950s, predating the Beach Boys by three years. The duo met in a Los Angeles high school playing football and started singing doo-wop in a short lived band called the Barons. When they graduated and the band broke up, Berry was already spending hours in his garage, which he’d outfitted with some reel-to-reel recording devices. It was in this garage and on this tape machine where some of Torrence's and his demos of "Jennie Lee" and "Baby Talk" (which was a Top-10 hit in 1958) were overdubbed with a band and then became the actual recording pressed onto vinyl and distributed under the Jan And Dean moniker. After that first big splash, the duo began putting the sounds of the Malibu surf and hot rod scene into their music and in 1963 a kid named Brian Wilson, who had just started a band called the Pendletones (his precursor to the Beach Boys) and asked Jan and Dean to see if they could help him finish a song he was writing called "Surf City." Against his father Murray Wilson's wishes, Brian gave the single to Jan and Dean and it became their first (and last) gold record. Borrowing from doo-wop and the hep beach lingo, the surf sound was born.
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