JAN BERRY — A SELECTED TIMELINE
By Mark A. Moore
Author of Dead Man’s Curve: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Jan Berry
1970 —Jan had pioneering surgery on his right leg to help improve his mobility.
• December 1971 — Dean Torrence compiled and designed Anthology, the first important post-accident retrospective on Jan & Dean’s career. The double album was issued by United Artists, the successor of original catalog holder Screen Gems (Jan Berry’s stalwart employer in the 1960s). CREEM magazine’s 21-year-old Dave Marsh penned the epic liner notes, an incisive article that placed Jan & Dean’s 1960s “Punk” persona in context with Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, Iggy Stooge, Alice Cooper, and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band in the early ‘70s—a piece that has stood the test of time. Marsh would go on to become a legendary music journalist.
Jan’s Solo Career
• November 1972-April 1978 — Jan wrote, arranged, and produced new music as a solo artist, releasing singles on Ode Records and A&M Records. He issued four solo singles and one with Dean Torrence as Jan & Dean on the Ode label, followed by two singles on the A&M Label. These recordings were facilitated by Jan’s old friend and business associate Lou Adler. However, there was little or no promotion from the labels, much to the dismay of Jan and the people working with him. Jan’s songwriting partners during this period included Joan Jacobs, Roger Christian, Mbu Chint, Jim Pewter, Alan Wolfson, Tom Sumner, and Ken Kahn.
• November 1972 — Ode Records released Jan’s solo single “Mother Earth,” his first released lead vocal after the accident.
• June 1973 — Ode released “Don’t You Just Know It,” a duet with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Jan had first arranged and produced a track for “Don’t You Just Know It”—a classic by Huey “Piano” Smith—in January 1966, before his car accident.
Surfer’s Stomp Reunion
• August 1973 — KMET and Jim Pewter presented the “First International Surfer’s Stomp, Ten Years Later,” held at the Hollywood Palladium. As part of a multi-artist line-up, Jan & Dean lip-synced to a recording. Dean tried to make a joke out of it, but since the audience was given no context for Jan’s circumstances, the fake performance did not go over well. However, the duo would soon be on more solid footing for live performances.
• August 1974 — Ode released Jan’s solo single “Tinsel Town (Hitch-A-Ride to Hollywood).”
• August 1974 — Jan & Dean appeared on Dick Clark’s Action ’74, an appearance facilitated by Stan Oliver. For nostalgia the duo lip-synced to “Surf City,” followed by a segment where Jan lip-synced to his new solo single “Tinsel Town.”
Rolling Stone Article
• September 1974 — Rolling Stone magazine published writer and attorney Paul Morantz’s landmark article on Jan Berry and Jan & Dean, titled “The Road Back from Dead Man’s Curve: The Tragic Life of Jan Berry with & without Dean Torrence.” Paul had first met Jan in 1969, and his article was accurate and powerful.
• October 1974 — Dean Torrence compiled and designed Gotta Take That One Last Ride, another two-LP retrospective issued by United Artists. This set did not include liner notes.
Jan & Dean Reunite for a Single Release
• August 1975 — Ode released “Fun City” by Jan & Dean. This vinyl reunion of the duo was facilitated by Jim Pewter and Alan Wolfson. However, Dean Torrence participated on the A-Side only.
• December 1975 — United Artists released “Sidewalk Surfin'” by Jan & Dean (UA 670). Featuring Jan Berry’s original 1964 production and vocals, with new vocals by Dean Torrence.
• March 1976 — Ode released Jan’s solo single “Sing Sang A Song.”
• July 1976 — “Sidewalk Surfin'” by Jan & Dean (UA 670) “bubbled under” at #107 on the Billboard charts. Featuring Jan Berry’s original 1964 production and vocals, with new vocals by Dean Torrence (July 24).
Jim Pewter’s California Jam
• June 1976 — Jan joined Dean Torrence and his band Papa Doo Run Run onstage at the Palomino night club in Hollywood, a show presented by Jim Pewter. Jan was in the audience and the guys called him up onstage to perform two songs: “The Little Old Lady (from Pasadena)” and “Dead Man’s Curve.” This impromptu event marked the first appearance of Jan & Dean onstage together backed by a live band—with Jan singing—since Jan’s car accident 10 years earlier.
Downing, Tripp & Middler
• 1976-1977 — By 1976 Jan was ready to hit the road, choosing to spend less time in the studio and more time performing live. Jan formed a band with Paul Downing (guitar and musical director), Peter Tripp (bass), Joe Middler (keyboards), and Chadwick McCall (drums, with double-bass kit). Downing, Tripp, and Middler were all talented songwriters and multi-instrumentalists. The guys recorded with Jan for the single “Little Queenie” / “That’s the Way It Is.” The band also played live performances with Jan, including gigs at the Palomino night club in Hollywood and the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach. They performed in Las Vegas and elsewhere, including a tour in Canada. By August 1977, with a performance at Tiffany’s in Marina Del Rey, Jan had begun to refer to his performance group as the Aloha Band.
• July 1977 — A&M Records released Jan’s solo single “Little Queenie.”
• October 1977 — Jan and the Aloha Band performed at the Playboy Club in Phoenix, Arizona.
• October-November 1977 — Jan’s career was now managed by Bob Marks of Artists’ Management.
• February 1978 — Jan performed at an Oldies revival show in Denver, Colorado.
Deadman’s Curve — Film Biography
• February 1978 — On February 3 Deadman’s Curve, a highly fictionalized account of Jan & Dean’s story, starring Richard Hatch as Jan and Bruce Davison as Dean, aired on national television (CBS). Dick Clark, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, and Bruce Johnston made cameo appearances in the film as themselves. Wolfman Jack portrayed a fictional deejay named Bob “The Jackal” Smith. Papa Doo Run Run appeared in the film (uncredited) as Jan & Dean’s band. Based loosely on Paul Morantz’s 1974 Rolling Stone article, the film was a ratings blockbuster—shares ranged from 28 to 33 per half-hour—and a watershed event for the duo. While stoking nostalgia among Baby Boomers, Deadman’s Curve accomplished a far more important task. Literally overnight the film spawned a whole new generation of younger fans—a rabid audience that would help sustain Jan & Dean’s livelihood going forward. The movie was also a critical success, gaining positive marks from the likes of music journalists Dave Marsh and Greil Marcus. Having spent a lot of time on set with Jan Berry, Richard Hatch’s portrayal of post-accident Jan was powerful and accurate, and the driving force behind the film’s success.
• February 1978 — By February 18, Steve Green and Advent Talent Associates had become Jan’s agent for booking concerts. With the national buzz created by Deadman’s Curve, Jan was ready to hit the road and capitalize on the publicity.
Jan and the Aloha Band
• March 1978 — Despite the renewed national interest in Jan & Dean sparked by the film, however, Dean had no interest in touring with Jan or performing live with him. So Jan forged ahead on his own. Under the auspices of Steve Green and Advent Talent, Jan assembled a new incarnation of the Aloha Band with Colorado-based musicians John Grove (bass), Gary Snyder (guitar), Brad Rice (keyboards), and Carl Brenner (drums). Aloha embarked in a motor home on an epic tour of the country—West, Midwest, and East—performing the Music of Jan & Dean.
• April 1978 — A&M released Jan’s solo single “Skateboard Surfin’ U.S.A.” Dean Torrence helped out by contributing an uncredited falsetto lead on this re-working of the duo’s 1964 hit “Sidewalk Surfin’.” The B-Side, “How-How I Love Her,” was one of the best tracks of Jan’s solo career.
Celebration with Mike Love
• April 1978 — Jan made two uncomfortable appearances with Dean Torrence at the University of Southern California and in Santa Barbara. Dean was guest starring with Celebration, a band fronted by his friend Mike Love of the Beach Boys. While happy to be participating, Jan was marginalized on these shows, being brought onstage to perform on two or three songs. Nevertheless, due to the recent airing of Deadman’s Curve, the crowds went wild at seeing the duo onstage together.
Back On the Road with Aloha
• April-July 1978 — After the Celebration guest appearances, Jan returned to touring the country with the Aloha Band, with Gene Wall replacing Brad Rice on keyboards.
Murray the K’s Brooklyn Fox Reunion
• July 1978 — Dean Torrence joined Jan and the Aloha Band for a performance at Murray the K’s Brooklyn Fox Reunion concert held at the Palladium in New York City, a multi-artist lineup that paid homage to Murray’s 1960s shows (in which Jan & Dean had performed). Also on the bill were Jay Black and the Americans, the Four Tops, the original Ronettes, and the Skyliners. This appearance by Jan & Dean, facilitated by Jan’s friend Stuart Hersh, was the first concert by the duo together outside of California after Jan’s car accident. The performance was well received. The enthusiastic audience gave Jan & Dean a standing ovation, but Dean was uncomfortable. In press for the event Dean belittled Jan & Dean’s original music, stating that it didn’t excite him, and that he preferred performing Beach Boys songs. Moreover, Dean did not want to play small clubs with Jan and preferred performing with his own band, Papa Doo Run Run.
Surfin’ Déjà Vu — On Tour with the Beach Boys
• August-September 1978 — Taking more advantage of the national buzz created by Deadman’s Curve and the Palladium gig, Jan & Dean made a few high profile guest appearances with the Beach Boys, who were then on tour. Following these performances, however, Dean stressed that there would be no formal reunion of Jan & Dean.
• September 1978 — People magazine published a spread on Jan & Dean’s guest appearances with the Beach Boys — “12 Years After the Crash Comes the Most Heartening Tour of ’78: Jan and Dean Area Back.”
• September 1978 — Despite his publicly stated misgivings, Dean once again joined Jan and the Aloha Band for a concert at the Starwood club in Los Angeles. The show received positive reviews in the press. The Los Angeles Times reported that the concert was “rousingly performed and received” and “dynamically entertaining,” with a “fine four-piece band.” Despite the positive reception, however, Dean once again stated publicly after the show that there would be no official Jan & Dean reunion.
• October 1978 — Jan & Dean appeared on the Mike Douglas Show.
• November 1978 — Jan & Dean appeared on Dick Clark’s Good Old Days Part II.
Official Touring Reunion
• December 1978 — By December 1978 Dean had changed his mind about a touring reunion. Jan caved and dissolved the Aloha Band. He signed with Great Eagle International, a firm Dean had signed with back in August. Dean was now ready to take the plunge and tour nationally with Papa Doo Run Run, bringing Jan into the fold.
• January 1979 — Jan & Dean signed with booking agent Magna Artists Corporation. With an official reunion at hand, fans old and new were about to get a dose of what they had been clamoring for since the airing of Deadman’s Curve in February—a chance to see Jan & Dean performing together onstage consistently around the country.
• February 1979 — Jan & Dean began performing in California prior to hitting the road nationally with Papa Doo Run Run. By this time Papa, originally formed in 1965, was an experienced, well-seasoned band. The group consisted of Don Zirilli (keyboards), James “Jimmy D” Armstrong (lead guitar), Mark Ward (guitar), Jim “Jimi-Jo” Rush (bass), and “Krazy” Jim Shippey (drums).
• March 1979 — Actors Richard Hatch and Bruce Davison, who had starred as Jan & Dean in Deadman’s Curve, joined the duo and Papa onstage at the Roxy Theatre in Hollywood.
• March 1979 — Jan held recording sessions for his newest original composition, which became “Hot Lookin’ Lady,” co-written with Gary Snyder (of Aloha), Jim Armstrong (of Papa), Billy Berry (Jan’s brother), and Alan Wolfson.
• April 1979 — Deadman’s Curve aired for a second time on national television, further stoking Jan & Dean’s popularity.
On Tour with Papa Doo Run Run
• April-May 1979 — Jan & Dean’s first national reunion tour with Papa Doo Run Run.
• May 1979 — Jan & Dean and Papa Doo Run Run performed at the Coconut Grove on Wilshire Boulevard in L.A., billed as “A Tribute to Jan & Dean,” hosted by Glen Campbell (who performed with the band). Special guests included Deadman’s Curve actors Richard Hatch and Bruce Davison, and Bruce Johnston. The show aired on national television as Jan & Dean’s California Special.
• May 1979 — Jan & Dean appeared on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert.
• August-December 1979 — Jan & Dean’s second national reunion tour with Papa Doo Run Run.
More American Graffiti
• August 1979 — Jan & Dean’s 1964 Top-10 hit “Dead Man’s Curve” was included in the soundtrack for the film More American Graffiti.
• September 1979 — Jan worked on sessions for “Hot Lookin’ Lady.”
• November 1979 — K-Tel released The Jan & Dean Story, a hodgepodge album featuring Dean Torrence’s re-recordings of Jan & Dean’s original music with Papa Doo Run Run (made in 1977), coupled with original recordings from the duo’s Doré and Challenge label era (1959-1961).
• November 1979 — Dean Torrence actively pushed a second set of his re-recordings of Jan & Dean’s original music, inspired and financed by Mike Love of the Beach Boys (who also sang on the tracks). These re-recordings originated in 1978, and Dean Torrence publicly proclaimed that they were better than Jan Berry’s original hit productions for Jan & Dean in the 1960s. Over the coming years Dean’s various re-recordings would be released repeatedly as “Jan & Dean,” often with no explanation that they were not the duo’s original recordings from the ’60s.
• December 1979 — Jan worked on sessions for “Hot Lookin’ Lady,” with vocal participation by Dean Torrence.
• December 1979 — Jan & Dean appeared on the Midnight Special.
• December 1979 — Billboard reviewed United Artists’ 10-track compilation of Jan & Dean’s original music titled Deadman’s Curve (to match the film title), an album aimed at capitalizing on the duo’s reunion and the popularity of their recent biographical film: “Best Cuts: Everything.”
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