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Greil Marcus

revised by Mickey Valley

Rock-and-roll male vocal duo. The singer, songwriter, and producer Jan Berry (b Los Angeles, CA, 3 April 1941; d Brentwood, CA, 26 March 2004) had his first success with the singer Arnie Ginsberg in the hit song, “Jennie Lee” (1958) which was recorded in Berry’s garage. He then formed a permanent partnership with the singer Dean Torrence (b Los Angeles, CA, 10 March 1941), and until 1966, when Berry was disabled in an automobile accident, Jan and Dean represented rock and roll as mindless fun, following and exploiting every new pop trend; their songs were based on doo-wop harmony and celebrated aspects of southern Californian hedonism such as surfing (“Surf City,” 1963, no.1) and fast cars (“Drag City,” 1963, no.10). Although Berry’s vocal abilities were not up to par and Torrence was little better, each managed to make at least one classic rock recording—Berry on Jan and Dean’s brilliantly orchestrated melodrama “Dead Man’s Curve” (...