Jan Berry was one half of the popular 1960s “surf music” singing duo Jan & Dean, who enjoyed chart success with songs including “Surf City”, “Little Old Lady from Pasadena”, “Popsicle”, “Dead Mans Curve”, “Drag City” and “Ride the Wild Surf”. Berry met future singing partner Dean Torrence at University High School in West Los Angeles and they became involved together in several musical groups, predominantly singing “doo wop” style tunes with limited success. However, fortune came their way when, in early 1963, they were booked to play several shows with The Beach Boys, and Berry struck up a friendship with songwriter Brian Wilson. Wilson passed across to Berry an unfinished tune titled “Surf City”, which Jan & Dean completed and recorded, and it was their first number one single! Jan & Dean immediately changed their future musical output solely to “surf music” and their album sales performed very strongly over the next three years. However, on April 12th 1966, Jan Berry was critically injured in a motor vehicle accident in Los Angeles, when he crashed his Corvette into a parked truck. Berry was initially thought dead at the scene of the crash, and after being taken to hospital, it took him many, many years to recover and to learn how to walk and talk again.
The accident effectively ended the duo’s soaring career, and it was not until the late 1980s that they did some minor touring, dependent on Jan’s health. After being plagued by ill health for over 38 years since the car accident, Berry passed away from a stroke on March 26th, 2004 at age 62.