November 29, 2023

JAN & DEAN – Jan Berry Official Site

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Reviews & Commentary — Dead Man’s Curve: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Jan Berry

Dead Man's Curve: The Rock 'n' Roll Life of Jan Berry

“By far the best . . .”

“I want to tell you about a new book by Mark A. Moore . . . about the life of Jan Berry from Jan & Dean. It’s called Dead Man’s Curve: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Jan Berry. I’ve mentioned it several times . . . It’s one of the best books about music I’ve ever read . . . By far the best thing I’ve ever read about [Jan & Dean] and the horrible [car] wreck. Can’t imagine how much time and work went into it, the people he talked to . . . I gotta tell you. If you’re even mildly interested in Jan & Dean’s beginnings, this is a great book. This guy researched the dickens out of it. It’s an easy read. You can get it on And keep in mind, I don’t endorse many books, but this one’s really good. And great photographs that he managed to scratch up from family members and friends. Pictures that I’ve never seen before.” — Scott Shannon, Deejay, WCBS-FM 1011, New York City, and the syndicated True Oldies Channel (United Stations Radio Networks).

“I couldn’t put it down . . .”

“This one is a page-turner. I’m not kiddin’ ya. This is really well researched. I learned everything I ever need to know about Jan & Dean, especially Jan Berry. He was the guy who was cruisin’ around Dead Man’s Curve too fast, and he lost control of his Corvette and damn near killed himself. And talks about his recovery and everything else. It’s called Dead Man’s Curve: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Jan Berry, written by this great writer named Mark A. Moore . . . I’ll tell you what. I couldn’t put it down. Wonderful. I recommend it.” — Scott Shannon, Deejay, WCBS-FM 1011, New York City, and the syndicated True Oldies Channel (United Stations Radio Networks).

“One of the most compelling music biographies you’ll ever read . . .”

“With Dead Man’s Curve, [Mark A. Moore] has written what is surely the definitive biography of Jan Berry—scrupulously researched and rich in color and detail. Moore was in an enviable position as a biographer [with] a huge amount of contemporaneous documentation to work from. In addition, he interviewed practically everyone who knew Jan or worked with him over the years . . .  With all of this material to draw upon, Moore was able to craft a meticulous account of Berry’s life without any missing pieces or chronological holes. It’s an incredible story in two acts: the first filled with excitement, humor, confidence, creativity, and triumph; the second with pain, struggle, challenges, rip-offs and some smaller victories along the way . . . Berry’s role as one of the principal architects of the West Coast sound has been forgotten to some extent, an oversight that this book should go a long way towards putting right . . . Berry’s clean, spacious, ornately-sculpted production and arrangements on Jan & Dean records like “Ride the Wild Surf,” “Dead Man’s Curve,” “The Little Old Lady From Pasadena,” “Honolulu Lulu” and “You Really Know How to Hurt A Guy” (to name just a few) still sound remarkable today. Working with engineers Bones Howe and Lanky Linstrot, he pushed the limits of the recording process, spending countless hours getting the sound he was looking for . . . The triumphs and tragedies of his life, the highs and the lows, the thrills and the pain, make [Dead Man’s Curve: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Jan Berry] one of the most compelling music biographies you’ll ever read.” — Mike Stax, Ugly Things #58, Winter 2021. Read the full review in Ugly Things Magazine.

“Banishing forever so many of the myths and misconceptions . . .”

“[T]here have indeed been many . . . articles, interviews, television specials and even books (e.g., Bob Greene’s candidly behind-the-scenes When We Get To Surf City) regarding the Titanic Twosome. But it wasn’t until Mark A. Moore’s 450-page-plus, day-by-day, blow-by-blow Jan & Dean Record chronology in 2016 that the serious study of their music and, yes, art commenced. And while that book remains the undeniable go-to reference work on the subject matter, Mark has now added to this California saga considerably, his eagle-eared attention to detail more than intact, with a too-long-awaited biography of the one, the only Jan Berry. . . . From his blessed Bel Air upbringing to his pioneering efforts at establishing what would become known the world over as the California Sound (yes, before Dick Dale, Phil Spector, or even Brian Wilson) Jan power-shifted through the first half of the Sixties playing bona fide all-singing, all-writing-and-arranging, all-producing Pop Star by night while, somehow simultaneously, pursuing studies at UCLA and the California College of Medicine . . . until, that is, the horrific events of April 12, 1966 which, as had somehow been predicted within the grooves of the very record which gave this book its name, left the man battling both physical and emotional demons for his remaining three decades. Dead Man’s Curve tells that complete tumultuous tale. . . But it also furrows deep, shines light, then adds color, weight and substance to the myriad people, places and events merely cataloged throughout Mark’s Record, whilst banishing forever so many of the myths and misconceptions behind Jan, Dean, and their undeniable role in the very genesis of the Los Angeles rock scene.” — Gary Pig Gold, PopDiggers, April 8, 2022. Read the full review at PopDiggers.

“A masterwork . . .”

A highly detailed account of the life and times of Jan Berry, the late and beloved mastermind of Jan & Dean . . . With Dead Man’s Curve: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Jan Berry, technical writer, researcher, historian and musicologist Mark A. Moore . . . tells the tale of a most driven and determined visionary, whom the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and numerous others counted among their own principal inspirations . . . Collaborators and insiders including the Matadors, Jill Gibson, Arnie Ginsburg, Lou Adler and countless others weighed in with first hand observations, as did Jan Berry’s father, his siblings, his medical school classmates and various other friends, acquaintances and industry leaders. To his considerable credit, Moore does not let the matter of fact approach that often characterizes a technical writing background define the tenor of the narrative. Moore makes his role as avid devotee of Berry’s body of work apparent from the onset, while managing to present as balanced of an account as possible. Indeed for such a tale to be told properly, it demands a narrator who unwaveringly prioritizes attention to detail. It is that insistence upon perfection that likewise guided Jan Berry’s vision in the studio from the onset. From their earliest experimentations with overdubbing and lavish vocal arrangements, through their combined sense of humor and Jan’s groundbreaking symphonic work (the Bel Air Bandits on Liberty), Jan & Dean were Blitz Magazine’s obvious and inevitable choice for Best Duo of the Twentieth Century. In turn, with this comprehensive study (which was more than two decades in the making), Moore has created a masterwork that will stand as a primary go to source for its vaunted subject matter. Essential. — Mike McDowell, Blitz, the Rock and Roll Magazine for Thinking People, February 6, 2022. Read the full review online.

“A non-stop, page turning thrill ride . . . “

2021: The Year of Jan & Dean?!! Enthusiasts of Jan & Dean and Jan & Arnie have long hoped for an extensive box set, perhaps one defining physical product moment solidifying our collective passion for Jan Berry’s productions and all additional related recordings, along with liner notes rising to the occasion. Some physical collections have come close and qualify as contenders, but apparently an actual box set was never to be. Flash Forward to these essential books, both providing us with unseen research and/or interviews that take us on a deserved deeper dive. Bravo to authors Mark A. Moore [Dead Man’s Curve: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Jan Berry] and Joel Selvin [Hollywood Eden] for coming to the table armed with the goods, the passion and a plethora of extras, proving that the waiting may be the hardest part — but the reading is indeed a non-stop, page turning thrill ride that no self-respecting musical book shelf should be without. Both earn my highest recommendations. — Elliot Kendall, Film & Music Promoter, EK Media & Marketing, Santa Monica, California

“Definitive . . . “

With his latest tome Dead Man’s Curve: The Rock and Roll Life of Jan Berry, Moore will likely become a Mark Lewisohn figure to Jan & Dean fanatics. . . . 2021 is shaping up to be the year for reappraisals of Jan Berry’s work, first with Joel Selvin’s ode to the Los Angeles music scene of the late 1950s and early 1960s Hollywood Eden (where Jan is a major player) and now in Moore’s definitive Jan biography. . . . . The first half of this book, chronicling Jan Berry’s development as a music (and mischief) maker in tandem with the burgeoning career of Jan & Dean, makes for great reading. . . . Jan was the studly boy wonder who could throw the ultimate campus party and somehow trick the cops into buying the beer. . . . . The only thing more impressive than putting on the whole world (the duo was on a meta hot streak with albums like Jan & Dean Meet Batman and the original version of Filet of Soul before Jan’s accident) was the sterling academic future ahead of them. In fact, Jan Berry was a med student by day/rock star by night! Had there not been any gold records, these guys probably would’ve been fine anyway. . . . Moore interviewed a number of the musicians and industry peers who worked with Jan and they all marvel at his talent and forward-thinking studio work . . . an innovator before it became acceptable and expected for a pop artist to think outside the box. . . . The second half of the book documenting the years after Jan’s car accident is both inspirational and harrowing. . . . At over 500 pages, Dead Man’s Curve: the Rock and Roll life of Jan Berry is a feast for fans of Jan, early rock and roll, and the powerhouse of pop percolating from the Sunset Strip. The section of the book dealing with Jan’s rise to fame is like reading about the greatest frat party of all time set to a killer soundtrack. If the goal here was to enrich the experience of listening to those Jan & Dean records once more or to encourage the uninitiated to think about them (and Jan) seriously for the first time, then I’d recommend you check out the book. It’s a heck of a story . . . and a lot more than what they could ever fit into a made-for-TV movie. — David Wills, Endless Summer Quarterly, September 2021. Read the full review at ESQ Online.

“Comprehensive, accurate, and balanced . . .”

Moore (The Jan & Dean Record: A Chronology of Studio Sessions, Live Performances and Chart Positions), an avid Jan and Dean buff, has written the definitive biography of Jan Berry (1941–2004). Drawing from dozens of interviews and an exhaustive survey of existing materials, he details Berry’s childhood in the posh neighborhood of Bel Air near Hollywood, his infatuation with doo-wop groups, his garage studio, and his surprise 1958 hit, “Jennie Lee,” with teenage friend Arnie Ginsburg. Soon after, Berry and Dean Torrence, who met in high school, saw huge success as the rock duo Jan and Dean; kings of the California surf, they recorded records and were featured on television and in films (“Surf City”; “Drag City”). Moore also covers Berry’s friendship with the Beach Boys and his dual life as a medical student and a rock and roll singer, arranger, and producer—until 1966, when he crashed his Corvette Sting Ray, which left him with a brain injury. The author spends the last third of the book on Berry’s triumphant return to the music business as a producer and sporadic tour-mate of Torrence’s. VERDICT: A comprehensive, accurate, and balanced account of a rock icon who was talented, impulsive, and driven, though sometimes difficult and dismissive. Crammed with minutia and drawn-out stories, this work will appeal to rock fans. — David P. Szatmary, formerly at University of Washington, Seattle (Library Journal)

Amazon Reviews

Comprehensive biography of an underrated musical genius — Has to be five stars for the level of research and journalism that have enabled the creation of this page turner of a biography. I have been a fan of Jan and Dean for over 30 years and yet there was much in this book that was new to me. A must for all fans of Californian music. — Mr. L. J. Anderson, United Kingdom, August 31, 2021

Absolutely Fantastic! — Mark A. Moore did a fantastic job of telling the story of one of rock ‘n’ roll’s true geniuses. The research that went into this book is unmatched. Jan Berry was at the forefront of west coast music long before The Beach Boys and his productions were second to none. His story is exciting and inspirational and Moore captures it perfectly. — Philip J. Streva, August 31, 2021

An excellent biography of a huge and undervalued talent — This is an outstanding biography of Jan Berry the writer, producer, arranger and singer of Jan and Dean. Jan was a troubled and complex kid who found his direction in music – initially recording in his garage and becoming a highly influential studio producer. His work and reputation were overshadowed by his almost fatal car crash in 1966 that robbed him of the ability to advocate for himself with others taking undeserved credit. Mark A Moore has crafted an unsentimental, honest and deeply researched reevaluation of Jan’s life and work. The book reflects years of research including interviews with key figures and access to Jan’s private papers. The last part of the book details Jan’s attempts to relearn to walk and talk and to record and tour again. A must for fans of the Beach Boys – heavily influenced by Jan, of the Wrecking Crew, of sixties and especially West coast music. This book should do much to reassert Jan Berry as a major figure in sixties music. He was a flawed and troubled man but ultimately his life story is uplifting. Unreservedly recommended. — deadmans curve, United Kingdom, September 5, 2021

Not only is the book full of information for the fan of Jan Berry the book is well put together — What a great book, anyone interested in Rock history should purchase both books by this author. — Guy Mullins, September 5, 2021

Detailed book — As detailed and as good as the book is, was wanting more detail if that’s even possible. That’s how interesting Jan Berry’s life was. Great book! — Richard Kwon, September 18, 2021

An Overlooked Pioneer of Rock & Roll — Jan Berry was a gifted musician with a tragic story. Mark Moore has brought to life all the triumphs and tragedies of this incredible man. This is a book that I could not put down from start to finish. He captures the amazing climb of Jan & Dean, but the real story is the continuous drive that Jan had to do what he loved for both himself and the fans he so cherished. If you’re a fan of Jan & Dean or just have an interest in the evolution of Rock & Roll, this book is for you. You will not be disappointed! — Jake from PA, September 18, 2021

A Pioneer of the California Sound — Mark A. Moore has spent many years studying the life and music of Jan Berry and has interviewed nearly everyone who played a significant role in Jan’s life, including his family, longtime friends, former girlfriends, musicians, studio engineers, and songwriting collaborators. In addition, Mr. Moore was granted access to Jan Berry’s files and musical arrangements to provide rich detail on his musical career and his recovery from his 1966 accident. Mr. Moore was able to weave all of this information into a very readable narrative. Wherever possible, he lets the key people in Jan’s life tell the story and uses the documentation from Jan’s files (some of which is used to help illustrate the book) to fill in gaps. Mr. Moore tries to tell the story without excessive editorializing, but occasionally points out some of Jan’s negative traits and discusses some missed opportunities for both Jan & Dean during the late 1960s and early 1970s that might have returned them to the radio and stage. There is some discussion of the dynamics of the personal and working relationship between Jan Berry and Dean Torrence, and how their roles evolved over the years, but the focus of the book is rightly on Jan. Fans of Jan & Dean will find the book indispensable. Fans of early rock music will enjoy reading about a musical genius who helped advance the California Sound. — Luther Marshall, November 10, 2021

Fantastic book on the life of Jan Berry! — Incredible detail on the life and music career of Jan Berry before and after his accident in 1966 – if you are a fan of Jan & Dean you will love the detail and quotes of Jan’s friends and musical associates! Highly recommended! — Dale S. Smith, January 3, 2022

Amazing Detail and Insight — Mark A. Moore has access to all Jan Berry’s personal memoirs and files. He does a wonderful job ordering, explaining all there is to know about the life of Jan Berry in one volume. Mark’s writing style is compelling, detailed and quite enjoyable! An excellent read! — John D. Parker III, February 16, 2022

The perfect read for any musically minded person — A great in depth factual account of the life of Jan Berry, the driving force of surf music duo Jan & Dean. The most extensive research has gone into Mark A. Moore’s previous books . . . This book is solely focused on Jan’s life story from start to finish and everything in between . . . a great read for any musician or music minded person. — C. Stin, United Kingdom, March 30, 2022

You Gotta Take This Wild, Last Ride — Every spring, I would put on Jan & Dean’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, and go out on our patio to start my summer tan. Jan & Dean’s music spoke to me, but like many, after Jan’s horrible accident in 1966, I lost track of him (them) and his work. This book in more detail than you can imagine tells the full story of Jan and his life before and after the crash. With access to Jan’s family, friends, music industry associates and every imaginable form of media, Mark Moore reveals the man and genius behind one of the pioneers of the California sound. Moore paints a complete picture of Jan Berry, his good and not so good points. For me, the highlight was learning about Jan’s remarkable life after his almost life-ending injuries. Despite his handicap, Jan went on to create and produce music and perform with support from great musicians, his family and Dean for almost 40 years. The relationship with Dean Torrence had its ups and downs over the years, and like other musical brothers (the Everly’s and Simon & Garfunkel) they had their battles, but Moore tracks the duo’s relationship thoroughly over all the years and gives you an unvarnished perspective of this dynamic duo as he tells the whole story of Jan Berry. I highly recommend this book for those who loved Jan & Dean and want to know more about the California music scene of the 60’s and beyond. — Daddy Dowah, August 18, 2022

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