JAN BERRY — A SELECTED TIMELINE
By Mark A. Moore
Author of Dead Man’s Curve: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Jan Berry
• January 1968 — Jan arranged and produced tracks for “Blowin’ My Mind,” “Cup of Tea” (“Laurel and Hardy”), and “Love Hollow” (“Carnival of Sound”), among others.
• February 68 — Davy Jones of the Monkees recorded a lead vocal demo for Jan’s composition “Laurel and Hardy.”
• February 1968 —Jan produced tracks for “Laurel and Hardy” and “Grasshopper” (“Mulholland”).
• March 1968 — By March Jan’s impulse disorder, a byproduct of his brain injury, had become a disruptive force in the effort to revive his music career.
The Bel Air Bandits
• March 1968 — Jan’s new band The Bel Air Bandits performed at a two-day bash at Park Lane Circle to celebrate his forthcoming 27th birthday (April 3). Band members included Steve Gaines (guitar, bandleader, and co-writer of “Girl, You’re Blowing My Mind”), John Pinto (guitar), Steve Foitle (organ), Rick Cohen (bass), Dave Gray (drums).
• April 1968 — Jan produced tracks for “Laurel and Hardy,” “Free, Free, Free”( “I Know My Mind”), “Deeper & Harder” (“Carnival of Sound”), and “Grasshopper” (“Mulholland,” “Mysterious Things Are Happening”). By late April the final titles for the songs had taken shape. These tracks featured no involvement from Dean Torrence. Studio vocalists Jan employed throughout the year included Glen Campbell, Ron Hicklin, Tom Bahler, John Bahler, and others.
• May-June 1968 — Jan worked on tracks for “Laurel and Hardy,” “Mulholland,” “I Know My Mind”, and “Carnival of Sound.”
• July 1968 — Warner Bros.-Seven Arts Records released “I Know My Mind” / “Laurel and Hardy.”
Jan’s Contracts with Screen Gems Terminated
• August 1968 — Screen Gems, the company that had employed Jan through the biggest successes of his career, terminated his contracts. Jan’s impulse disorder and mounting studio costs had conspired to derail his musical renaissance. The company invoked a clause in Jan’s original producing contract that specified submission of one complete master per month—a schedule he had trouble keeping.
• September 1968 —Jan worked on various incarnations of “Blowing My Mind.”
• October 1968 —The release of Jan & Dean’s proposed third single for Warner Bros., “Girl, Your Blowing My Mind” / “In the Still of the Night,” was cancelled.
• October 1968 — With members of the Wrecking Crew, Jan worked on sessions for “Standing Still,” an early working title for “Flight Number Nine (Cheyenne),” co-written by Jan and his friend Joan Jacobs.
National News Coverage
• October 1968 — Journalist Gene Hurley wrote a nationally syndicated news article on Jan’s recovery, his new music, and some of his Carnival of Sound era recordings.
The Warner Bros. Contract Is Terminated
• November 1968 — Jan & Dean’s Warner Bros. contract was terminated. Jan’s impulse disorder and the break with Screen Gems contributed to the cancellation of the proposed Carnival of Sound LP . . . (Carnival of Sound was officially released with deluxe packaging by Rhino Handmade in 2010).
• November 1968 — Undaunted, Jan continued to work on new music in the studio. He pushed ahead with “Standing Still” and revisions to “Girl, You’re Blowing My Mind.”
• December 1968 —Jan delivered his final mix of “Girl, You’re Blowing My Mind,” but the proposed album had already been effectively shelved.
• December 1968 — Jan threw a massive New Year’s Eve Party on December 31.
During the year Jan had outfitted his spacious home on Park Lane Circle with an in-house recording studio. He held practice sessions there with his new band The Bel Air Bandits.
Throughout the year at Park Lane Circle Jan held songwriting sessions with Joan Jacobs, Roger Christian, Gene Weed, Don Peake, Ken Krogstad, Gary Kendall, and Paul Freese (co-writer of “Girl, You’re Blowing My Mind”)
In addition to George Tipton, Bill Stafford, and Robert Porter, Jan held arranging sessions at Park Lane Circle with Rene Hall, Ernie Freeman, Billy Strange, Ben Benay, and Bob Harrington.
Other “music business connections” at Park Lane Circle included Don Altfeld, Hal Blaine, Fred Manning, and actor Bo Svenson. Jan and Bo had become friends during the production of Jan & Dean’s television pilot On the Run in 1966. Svenson played a security guard at the Smithsonian Institution in the pilot.
• February 1969 — Jan began recording his new composition “Hitch A Ride to Hollywood,” co-written with Joan Jacobs and Roger Christian. The tracks were cut in a professional studio with members of the Wrecking Crew who had worked with Jan before the accident.
• February 1969 — Jan cut dubs of “Girl, Your Blowing My Mind” and “In the Still of the Night.”
• March 1969 — Jan cut dubs of “Hitch A Ride to Hollywood.” The song was later released as “Tinsel Town (Hitch-A-Ride To Hollywood)” in 1974.
Deals with Gulf Pacific Industries Fall Through
• June 1969 — Thanks to Jan’s old friend and collaborator Don Altfeld, Jan & Dean had one final opportunity to sign production and partnership agreements with a music production company in the 1960s. Gulf Pacific Industries had been formed in late 1968 when Zax-Altfled-Shapiro merged with Horizon Records. Gulf Pacific had overseen production of Elephant Candy by the Fun and Games (produced by Gary Zekley). By early 1969 the company was producing a hip stable of artists, including the Clique, Fever Tree, and others . . . Gulf Pacific drew up new agreements to bring Jan & Dean into the fold, a promising situation that could have paired Jan in a production environment with his old friend Gary Zekley. The agreements would also have given Dean Torrence the authority to negotiate on behalf of the act and contribute graphics.
Unfortunately, all parties could not come to a mutual agreement. The Gulf Pacific contracts were never executed . . . paving the way for Jan Berry’s career as a solo artist on Ode Records and A&M Records in the 1970s.
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