The Road Back from Dead Man’s Curve

by Paul Morantz as appeared in Rolling Stone Magazine
September 12th, 1974 together with intermittent comments by Jan and Dean fans who together retyped it onto the internet in 2006

In 2006,  32 years after its appearance in Rolling Stone some Jan and Dean fans each took sections of my story on Jan and Dean “Road back from Dead Man’s Curve” and re wrote it in a blog so it was preserved on the internet   The blog was entitled “Thank you Paul Morantz”  and was done as a  birthday gift for Jan.  Interspersed with the story are comments from fans and I have decided to leave them in.  I, myself, did not come across it until 2008.  I wrote a thank you note to the fan club because this meant so much to me.  Jan and Dean their families became part of my life and it was truly a labor of love.

The story is credited with restarting their careers and is a marking point in music history.  We all hope one day the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame puts the Clown princes of Rock and Roll in where they belong.  They were the first creator’s of the California sound of big waives, fast cars, skate boards, fantasy cities and beach babes.

Please enjoy and read also Jan and Dean: Behind the Movie on notes of how this story and the movie following all came to be.

F R O M   T H E  T O P   . . . » TALK CITY » What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morantz

What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morantz
Post by maryw7 on Apr 3, 2006, 9:29am


double wow!

If you’re reading this Mr. Morantz….

How can I say “thank you” enough? I can’t….so I’ll just say it the plain old way…

THANK YOU…sir….I know Dean worked with you and a heartful of thanks to him always…….and now to you too!!! ….finally can say…..THANK YOU! That article…which you began in 1969….and took them so far…..


Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by maryw7 on Apr 3, 2006, 9:30am

ah…. make that a triple and MORE …


(if anyone missed it…my reason for the wow’s…Mr. Morantz’s name is shown as having joined on April 3rd…and he is the person who wrote the September 1974 ROLLINGSTONE magazine article on Jan & Dean that propelled them back into our midst….Phase II)

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by admin on Apr 3, 2006, 10:13am

I had a fantastic interview with Paul a few years ago, for Jan’s biography project. Great stuff.

Paul’s had an interestsing life, to say the least . . . and he did some very important legal work for Jan (the documentation for which still exists).


Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by admin on Apr 3, 2006, 10:30am

Paul’s article was a landmark piece of journalism for Jan & Dean . . . and that would be true, even if the movie hadn’t followed.

Read the article again . . . It’s far more accurate than the movie (on which it was loosely based).


Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by eedna on Apr 3, 2006, 7:16pm

Would there be a link to the article?

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by maryw7 on Apr 4, 2006, 12:07am

Never did I find one.


The Road Back from Dead Man’s Curve

by Paul Morantz as appeared in Rollingstone Magazine
September 12th, 1974

He was stretched out on a lounge chair at the Westward Ho enjoying the Palm Springs desert sun. It was Easter Week, 1969. The day was his 28th birthday and one of the local radio stations would help him celebrate by playing a Golden Oldie, a million seller he had written and produced a decade ago. That was, of course, before; before the accident, all the troubles with the police, the hospitals. He had written the song when he was riding high, making records, wheeling and dealing, churning right along with the wild surf. Under the Palm Springs sun those days seemed long and sadly gone.

I had met him the day before.

“Your name,” he said, “Wait. I’ll remember. There’s a . . . ‘P’ and an ‘L.’ ”

“Right,” I said. “The ‘L’ comes at the end.”

“And there’s an ‘A.’ ” He concentrated hard. “One more letter. Don’t tell me . . . ”

Finally I had to tell him.

“A ‘U,’ yes.” he said, disappointed that he didn’t get it. Abruptly, he smiled. “Listen to this,” he said. He began to sing. “Hitch-a-ride to Hollywood, Hitch-a-ride . . .”

The singing was smooth, more normal than his speaking. It was plain that his music had not been totally lost in the accident. He didn’t seem to mind talking about it. “I’ve had brain damage,” he said. “It’s been a long, hard three years, but I’m on my way back. I’ve been learning to read and write all over again.”

He stood up, dragging his right leg. With his left hand, the good one, he swung the lounge around to catch direct rays. Teenage girls in bikinis walked by, careful not to stare. “I plan to record a new song.” he said. “I think it will be a hit. If it is, it will be the one I’m most proud of. I’m going to make it again.” He closed his eyes, relaxed and sang:

And I know you’ll be beside me
In Tinsel Town
Deep in love beside me
In Tinsel Town
Rain falling over me
In Tinsel Town . . .”

He sang too softly for the golden California nymphets to hear. They had their transistor radios and would listen to his “Oldie” unaware that the real Jan Berry–the Jan of Jan and Dean–was working on his comeback song not ten yards away.

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by maryw7 on Apr 4, 2006, 12:32am

Surf music. The California good-time sound. It sold like hoola hoops. Arnie Ginsberg and Jan Berry hit it big while still in high school. In Jan’s garage they wrote and recorded “Jennie Lee” after watching a stripper of the same name–“the Bazoom Girl”–dance at the Follies Burlesk. The bomp-bomp chant came from the way her breasts bounced. The record ranked high in the charts, among such hits as “All I Have to Do is Dream,” and “Purple People Eater.” Jan and Arnie were stars. So Arnie graduated and joined the Navy.

Jan figured Arnie blew it. Dumb. He approached his friend Dean Torrence. Dean knew that Jan would be hard to work with. It was always his show, things had to be done his way, written his way, arranged his way, sung his way. But they were friends. Their football lockers were side by side. That’s how they had met. And they had almost died together once on a sneak cruise on Jan’s father’s racing sloop. It had seemed, despite midnight storm warnings, like a good night for a run to Catalina.

For Dean, being the junior partner was better than anything else he had going, certainly better than the gas station. The recording sessions, with the Beach Boys in the studio next door, were always fun; more like beer parties than work. Brian Wilson would occasionally give one of his compositions to Jan and Dean who would rework it and presto–“Surf City,” “The New Girl in School,” “Sidewalk Surfin’.” Their managers, Lou Adler and Herb Alpert, were young in the business but sharp. And their studio band, with Hal Blaine on drums, a kid named Leon Russell playing keyboard, a picker named Glen Campbell on guitar and Larry Knectal playing bass with Joe Osborn, cut very tight tracks. The girls loved it.

Artistically, Jan and Dean can’t be compared to the Beatles or Chuck Berry or even their counterparts, the Beach Boys, but they fit the times, the late Fifties and early Sixties. They were pre-Dylan, pre-Martin Luther King, pre-Vietnam. Their interests were bikinis and beaches and a mystical place called Surf City where there were always two girls for every boy. Their songs were always about some light-weight, sunny topic of the day; great waves, cute girls, popsicles, skate boards, a drag-racing old lady who made Dodge commercials–“Go Granny, go Granny, go Granny go.” Altogether they they sold approximately ten million singles and six or seven million albums.

It started when they were both seniors in high school, and their youth may have had something to do with the style, the prankery and recklessness. What, for instance, is a bigger attention-getter than a surfboard in Manhattan? So what if you drew a little crowd, got a couple of those icy New York stares? “Listen,” they would say, “we’re looking for that perfect wave. Which way to the surf?”

On tour they were known to keep their hotel bathtub filled with ice and red Ripple wine. Once they staged a murder to the horror of the hotel guests. Blank guns, ketchup, a James Cagney death scene with lots of stumbling and twitching. They were the jokers who interrupted a Paul Revere and the Raiders concert by carrying the longest ladder they could find across the stage, then closing the concert with a half-hour cake fight. It was fun, fun, fun and, of course, it was never going to end. They were the “Clown Princes of Rock & Roll.”

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by maryw7 on Apr 4, 2006, 12:37am

Before I go on with the article….just had to state my personal opinion of something Paul wrote….the “3rd” paragraph from the bottom of the last section…..

True…they can’t be compared to the Beatles, or Chuck Berry or even the Beach Boys….

…Jan & Dean are so much better!

(but okay….you can compare them)

….wonder what Paul was thinking….

oh well

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by maryw7 on Apr 4, 2006, 1:09am

At University High in West Los Angeles, Jan and Dean were members of the Barons, a club consisting of the school’s big kids, the football players and leaders. The singing began when the Barons got together in the shower after grid practice.

Part of the Baron panache was “goofing off.” Jan favored fake fights in the corridors, trash can fires, garbage tossing, bringing liquor to school in lemon squeezers, hanging bareass out the car window and occasional petty theft (the mikeshe used for recording his first song came from the school auditorium).

Jan was perhaps the school’s most handcuffed student. He was suspended several times, though he never committed any serious crimes. He seemed to get in trouble for anything. Once he was arrested for mouthing off when the police made a traffic stop on a friend. Three times he was arrested for indecent exposure, though Jan remembers the incidents as droptrou pranks at the beach. At the old Pacific Ocean Park, a defunct amusement pier in L.A., he got in a squabble with a ticket seller and ended up decking two cops. Jan was only 17 so he wasn’t prosecuted.

Dean was a fellow goof-off who somehow never got caught. Typical is the time he stole a rifle from the ROTC rack and gave it to Jan who was promptly arrested by the FBI (Jan was no squealer).

Dean’s good luck stayed with him through his college days at USC where, for a few harrowing weeks, he found himself in enough legal trouble to draw a death sentence. The incident began when Dean’s good friend, ex-Baron Barry Keenan, approached himon the USC campus. Keenan explained that he was in debt–to Dean among others–and that the only way he could pay it all back and save his marriage was to pull off a master crime, a real money-maker. He had been doing some research, he said, on the possibility of kidnapping a celebrity. Dean laughed. He says he never took the thing seriously, but when Keenan read off his scenario, Dean “humored” him by offering suggestions to make it go better, rewriting, in fact, much of the money pick-up scene. After the first meeting, Keenan came by more often seeking advice and money.

Dean claims he found the whole kidnap scenario great fun right up until the news broke that someone had grabbed Frank Sinatra Jr., one of the targets Keenan had discussed with Dean. A few days later, Dean found a paper bag in his shower. it contained 50 or 60 grand. Dean phoned Keenan, apologized for not taking his friend seriously and he wanted to return the money. Keenan said he understood and told Dean to go to a certain phone booth on Westwood Boulevard the next day at noon for instructions.

The next day, Dean drove to class with the 50 or 60 grand in a bag on his front seat. He put the money in his locker and went to class. “It’s all a fantasy,” he kept thinking. When some classmates said they figured Junior was already dead, Dean found himself taking bets. By the time he took off for Westwood, the thing began to hit him. He disconnected his car radio so he couldn’t hear the latest news reports, not even the newest Jan and Dean release, “The Little Old Lady from Pasedena.”

Keenan called and told Dean to meet him in a parking lot in Venice, California. Dean gave back the money, Keenan was despondent. The house he used had been found. he knew he would soon be caught. That night he was.

Dean was subpoenaed after the FBI searched a safety deposit box he shared with Keenan. It contained $1750 of the ransom money. At first Dean, loyal to his friends, denied everything, but then returned to the stand to clear things up. Dean says the safety deposit box was part of the “game” and they used it to exchange secret messages. The judge recommended that no perjury charge be brought. Dean was never prosecuted. he had lucked out again.

Jan was called to the stand also, though he hadn’t any idea what for. Defense attorneys tried hard to show that the entire incident came when Jan and Dean were asked to back out of Ride the Wild Surf, a movie in which they were to costar with Fabian. “Maybe,” Dean said, “they were afraid we’d kidnap Fabian.”

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by maryw7 on Apr 4, 2006, 12:44pm

Jan was bright and had the eccentricities common to the very bright. He was concerned only with achievement. He worked constantly and kept few friends. his mind was always working on everything at once: songs, arrangements, tours, sessions and plays for the J&D Bel-Air Bandits Flag Football Team. In college he studied hard and eventually attended medical school., as a back-up if the record career happened to fade. His girlfriend since high school, Jill Gibson, was always smiling after him, but Jan was big, handsome and successful. He found it hard to resist dates with Ann-Margret and Yvette Mimieux.

He had always been his own man and he disliked authority of any kind. He was, said a friend, so much smarter, quicker, stronger than anyone else that he just made up his own rules. At the age of 15 he got angry with his father for picking him up at a party in front of his friends, and the next morning he hitch-hiked to San Francisco, changed his name to Jim Arnold, dyed his hair black, got a job as a printer and enrolled in South San Francisco High School. He lived with an older friend and finally returned home five months later.

Jan drove the way he lived–fast, reckless, up to the limit and far beyond. Maybe it was part of a death wish. The pressure and the pace were furious. Jan nowadays thinks he drove fast to escape. He didn’t have many friends and he wasn’t very happy. At first Dean didn’t mind the speed. Together in Hawaii on tour, just before the release of “Linda,” they wrecked a rent-a-car speeding through a sugar cane field while being sprayed from above by a crop duster. And on a trip to northern California, it was a joke to average 98 miles an hour. Sometimes the two talked about cutting a “memorial” album with new songs, not oldies. On the cover of the album would be a wrecked car, the car they would have been killed in.

After a while, Dean started getting scared. Sometimes Jan would try simultaneously to change clothes, arrange music and hold the car at 100. Three times Dean was in the car when Jan had minor accidents.

“Have you been killed yet?” Jan would demand whenever Dean complained.

The Jan and Dean wave began to crest in 1964. They hosted The TAMI Show, aforerunner of the Woodstock and Bangladesh films, featuring James Brown, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones. In 1965 they made a pilot for a TV show and in the same year began work on another movie, Easy Come, Easy Go. On the first day of production, an accident involving a runaway train car injured 17 people and the film was postponed, then canceled.

Jan and Dean were playing New York when Jan flew back to Los Angeles for his medical school exams and an appointment at his draft board. he crammed on the flight, actually dissecting a mouse on his eating tray. “Popsicle” was the latest release, and Jan might have heard it on the way to his draft board the next morning in Beverly Hills. Like many men his age, Jan didn’t like what he was told. He roared off in his Corvette and the crest of the wave finally broke. Wipe-out. Easy come, easy go.

Dead Man’s Curve
It’s no place to play
Dead Man’s Curve
You best keep away
Dead Man’s Curve
I can hear him say
Won’t come back from
Dead Man’s Curve . . .

It was a bright day in April 1966 when Mike Barry, son of actor Gene Barry, heard the sound.

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by maryw7 on Apr 4, 2006, 12:47pm

Want to interject here….as I believe “Popsicle” did not come out as a single (as per Dean’s desire as opposed to the opposite side of the 45) until Jan was hospitalized.

A plain old fan-at-icle fan can’t help but notice these things, guys….


Paul? How come the part about Janno’s poor left leg getting busted didn’t find it’s way in here? And being in the cast for about 7 months? …in that movie/train accident?

Plus…(i apologize)…the tv pilot was filmed February 1966 after the foiled movie attempt in August 1965 …or should i say as a result of the foiled movie accident…


MODIFIER — PS..OOPS…yes…”Popsicle” was the single after April 12th, but Dean picked the flipside….yeeps! getting forgetful…

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by admin on Apr 4, 2006, 2:42pm

“Batman” was the last single released prior to Jan’s accident. “Popsicle” peaked at #21 on Billboard in the summer of ’66.


Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by maryw7 on Apr 4, 2006, 2:42pm

He was sitting in his home located at the curve on Whittier Boulevard just below Sunset Boulevard and he can remember it as if it happened yesterday. Sometimes he thinks he still hears it.

“Man, I heard this screech . . . an incredible long screech.” he said, “I told someone in the house to call an ambulance and then went outside. By then the car had stopped. It ws rammed into the rear of a parked truck. I mean the entire car was shattered. It was scattered over the street in little chips. Only the steel frame was left. On the street, were these long skid marks. he had to be doing at least 60 or 70 miles per hour.

“I ran up to the car. It was a Corvette. Either it had been a convertible or the top had been ripped off. He was in the driver’s seat. At first he moved. I thought he was conscious. Then he slumped back. My first instinct was to get him out but the frame of the door wouldn’t open. I leaned in and then I saw his head. It was split open. A woman arrived and she was screaming. ‘Get him out!’ We gotta get him out!’ I didn’t see any reason to expect any kind of explosion or anything but what I did see was that gash–it went from his nose, past his forehead and into his hairline. ‘No way, lady,’ I said. ‘We move him and we’re going to kill him.’

“The only way to get him out was through the top, anyway. The door was crashed in and the windshield–cracked, bent, but not shattered–was woven around his face like a blanket or some type of fabric. It was weird. The car was nothing but an outline, a thin sketch with a few pieces of fiberglass here and there. It was like a skeleton, you know.

“Two ambulance attendants went inside and brought him out through the top. I pushed back the windshield and held it as they pulled him up. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it, lifting the windshield, seeing his head cracked.”

He had awakened once before, sat up and asked his mother how she was, giving her hope for the moment, and then lain back down. But that was weeks ago and he didn’t remember it. There was little that he did remember.

He was Jan Berry; he knew that. And he was looking at his mother and father; he knew that, too. But why were they there? And where was he? He wanted to ask but he couldn’t recall the right words. He felt frustrated, wild. He wanted to get out of the bed but he didn’t know where he wanted to go. The nurses tried to calm him and he didn’t like that. Who are they? He bit the finger of one. Do they call it a finger?

There was a blond-haired kid he recognized. They did something together, but couldn’t remember what to call him. There was a strange woman there, small, older, fragile looking. Who was she? And why did she keep staring at him? Better she go away. One of his hands didn’t feel right. Or did it just seem that way? The right or the left? Better to go back to sleep now and wake up someplace else.

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by maryw7 on Apr 4, 2006, 3:28pm

The woman, it turned out, was Vivian Sheehan–a pioneer in the study of aphasia, communication disorders resulting from a stroke or head injury. She had helped set up aphasia treatment, centers at veterans’ hospitals after World War II. She had been instrumental in the post-aphasia comebacks of writer Paul Coates and actress Patricia Neal.

Over a month later Jan’s father called Sheehan and told her that Jan was ready to get busy. At the hospital she had told the family there was nothing she could do until Jan wanted help; at that time Jan was confused and angry.

“Tomorrow?” she asked. “No, he wants to come over now.” A few minutes later Jan was looking at her at the door. “You there,” he said awkwardly, “I not know why.”

And so they began work. Jan, however, was not an easy aphasia patient. He did not want to live with his parents, who could have given him 24-hour-a-day aid, understanding and therapy, because he was still Jan Berry and Jan Berry took care of himself. So he lived in his own house in Bel-Air off Mulholland Drive.

Jan had to relearn such things as how to move his tongue to form words. In addition, he was limited to the amount of ideas he could retain at once. If he was told to open a drawer, pull out a box and take out a pencil he might not do anything, not because he couldn’t comprehend, but because he couldn’t handle remembering three new concepts at once.

Sheehan aimed the initial therapy at Jan’s basic needs at the time–to be able to say who he was, ask questions, tell what was happening to him, call a friend, write a check, add up what he was spending and tell time. She placed identification signs on objects in Jan’s house and would write letters at Jan’s dictation and have Jan copy them. Jan was still pretty good at memorizing telephone numbers, especially girls’, but wasn’t so good at the alphabet. Sheehan tried to teach the ABC’s using words that always held interest for Jan. “Bruce” (his brother) was for “B,” “Music” was for “M” and “F___” was for “F.” “You use whatever words will work for each patient,” Sheehan said.

Jan progressed, aided in part by the spontaneous recovery most aphasia victims undergo six months to a year following the injury when the swelling around the brain goes down. Two years after the accident Jan came under the care of another speech pathologist, Roy Whitlow of Rancho Los Amigos Hospital in Downey, California.

Whitlow provides his patients with a workbook geared to each one’s ability. Jan assembled blocks to match patterns in pictures, the number of blocks increasing as his ability to retain concepts increased, matched colors with their names and the names of his three sisters and five brothers, all younger, with their pictures.

Whitlow, too, found Jan difficult. Jan shunned Whitlow’s group meetings between aphasia patients of Jan’s age. The sessions were designed to aid depression but only increased Jan’s. He didn’t want to be reminded of aphasia. He was a musician and not to be pitied. He had to get busy and make music again. Jan had been wiped out, but he had to get back out there on the board, maybe catch another wave.

Whitlow had heard that one of the first words Jan had muttered after the accident was “squirrel.” A girl who met him later said that at first the only word he seemed to be able to spell correctly was “squirrel” and that he was always spelling it. Today Jan doesn’t recall using the word at all and his closest friends can’t remember him ever using it in any context. Jan’s mother says he never owned a pet squirrel. “I don’t know what it means to him,” a musical acquaintance said, “except in racing, ‘squirrel’ is a slang term for someone driving too fast or spinning the back wheels.”

It was the left side of the brain, which controls the arm and leg of the right side of the body, that was injured. As a result, Jan’s use of his right hand was impaired and his right foot would not point up when he walked, causing him to drag the leg. In 1970 a new type of surgery was attempted at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital to correct the walk. A battery and a transmitter were attached around Jan’s waist. A receiver implanted inside his thigh would pick up the electricity from the battery and send it by wires inside the leg to the proper nerve, providing the stimulus to raise his right foot. With the foot pointing up it was able to clear the ground on each step and Jan was able to swing through and walk normally. When he sat he would switch off the battery.

A year later, however, Jan’s body rejected the system and it had to be removed by surgery. More surgery on the leg followed. A hole was drilled through his bone and the front tendons were rerouted through it and tied up in the rear so he could pull the foot up. How successful the operation was isn’t known yet as the strengthening of the tendons and the relearning of coordination by the brain is a slow process, but Jan hopes to be running soon.

The wave had splattered. Jan and Dean were washed up.

Dean made an attempt to prevent it. He remembered how Jan had dreamed of their own label and although Dean had thought it too risky, later he would try it. For the first time, he, not Jan, would choose the songs, arrange them and even sing both voices–a surprise for Jan when he got out of the hospital, a new Jan and Dean album on “J&D Records.”

It took Dean six months but he made the album, Save For a Rainy Day. Right off the bat it sold well, 30,000 albums. Columbia Records, figuring it could turn over 100,000, offered to buy it. Dean nixed the offer, for the first time he was in control, he liked it, and Jan would have his J&D label.

Jan had not been out of the hospital long when Dean brought his gift over. Jan examined the album and bitterly pointed out that it was not his picture on the cover, it was his brother. Dean tried to explain that they needed a photo and that Jan had been in the hospital. While he spoke, Jan lurched over to the stereo and put the album on. He listened to a third of the first cut, reached down with his left hand and dragged the needle across the rest of the album. “Terrible,” he kept saying, “bomb, bomb, bomb.”

Jan picked the record off the turntable and pressed it against his body until it shattered like his Corvette. “I do it from now,” he said.

Discouraged but not really surprised, Dean sold the album to Columbia. The company released a single, “Yellow Balloon,” but never released the album after Jan refused to sign a contract. Jan was still going to be Jan and Dean. He “would do it.”

He tried. Jan signed with Warner Bros. Dean also signed but only after a friend had warned him that Jan might become suicidal if he didn’t get the chance to try and record again. Dean felt it proved to himself he could “turn the other cheek.” However, he made it clear he wanted no money for the use of his name and he would not perform. The ride for Jan and Dean was over.

It was fun while it lasted, thought Dean. The fame had brought so many girls it had been hard to choose among them. But he was a college graduate and he would begin his own graphic design firm. Dean still visited Jan, even tried to aid him in promoting records but that was to no avail. Jan could barely talk, let alone sing, and Warner Bros. suffered a financial loss.

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by maryw7 on Apr 4, 2006, 4:35pm

He was being ripped off by people I never saw before.” Dean said of Jan’s early months out of the hospital, “but he didn’t know it and I guess if he had, and these were the only people who would come around, he would have probably felt they were better than no one at all. It was better than being alone. So I let it be.”

They came like scavengers to a shipwreck. Strangers walked in, used his bedroom and kitchen and walked out, some with his stereo equipment and others with his records, clothes or liquer. For those who stayed awhile Jan bought gifts and lent his car but eventually they left, too.

His long-time girlfriend, Jill Gibson, was gone. Just before the accident she had caught Jan in bed with two girl hitchhikers he had picked up and she ended their engagement. She was there when Jan regained consciousness and tried to help. Jan was someone else, a little boy; she fed him chocolate cake and whispered words of love to him. But after a few weeks they broke up again and she left.

Lou Adler put her on tour as a temporary Mama and Papa when Michelle Phillips had split from the group for a few months and after that she went to live in Greece and paint. Jan, with Vivian Sheehan’s help, would write her and say, “I miss you, you are out-of-sight,” and Jill would write back about how nice Greece was. Eventually the letters stopped altogether. Sheehan thought that was just as well. Jill was part of Jan’s past life now and would be of no help in his future one.

What Jan wanted most was to get back into music but after the people in the business, including several whose careers he had helped along the way, discovered he was nonproductive, they no longer wanted to see him or hear about what a great idea he had for a recording and how sure he was this time he could do it. Eventually when Jan would call, the secretaries would say: “Who’s calling? Jan! Sorry Mr. ___________ isn’t in now.” Or “Mr. _________ is in conference. yes, I will tell him you called.”

Depression, says Sheehan, is something all aphasia victims suffer. During his early depressed periods Jan took part in what might have been two actual suicide attempts or just Jan Berry clown acts. His memory of the incidents today is hazy but he doubts their authenticity and his parents agree.

The first took place in Hawaii about a year after the accident. Jan remembered how he had enjoyed the islands when he toured so without telling anyone he took a plane there; only he found it wasn’t like before. Hawaii was the same but he was different. He called home from a hotel lobby and told his father he was thinking about strolling on the beach and slitting his wrists. He was overheard, however, by someone in the lobby who called the police. He was found on the beach, wrists intact. When he spoke the police thought he was on dope so they took him in. His father flew over and retrieved him.

Back at his house in L.A., Jan again phoned his father and mentioned suicide. William Berry called Jan’s neighbors. Two women barged in Jan’s house and found him on the couch, eyes blank and staring. The women doused him with a bucket of water but neither he nor his eyes flinched. At the UCLA hospital a stomach pump was prepared when Jan suddenly jumped up and informed everyone around him he wasn’t staying any longer. The nurse didn’t know what to do and tried to strap him down. When his father arrived at the hospital Jan was missing. With the aid of the police he found Jan walking along Westwood Boulevard. he took him home.

In 1969 Jan got the help Sheehan had thought he needed. A good friend who would stay with Jan and give him understanding, yet force him to learn. She also kept the scavengers away. Pam MacGregor met Jan through her boyfriend, Chris Thomasson, who had picked up Jan and his German shepherd once when they were hitchhiking. With some coaxing from Jan and his parents, she moved into Jan’s house, remained for two years and became like a sister to him. For Jan they were comeback years.

“When I first met Jan he couldn’t talk in sentences” she said. “He didn’t say, ‘I want some ice cream,’ just ‘ice cream.’ He would call a table a chair. We would sound words out for him to help him spell. If he couldn’t do it he’d get pissed off but then this would help. We would sing words and often that got him interested. Sometimes he just needed encouragement; he couldn’t do it alone. You had to sit there and make sure he did all his work. In school he could just cram for exams and do well. He was always busy but things came easy. Now it’s different.

“As he improved he became more logical. He still loves the public. He’s not shy and has a great deal of charm. He’ll walk up to anyone and say, ‘Hi, my name is Jan Berry.’ With girls he’ll ask, ‘What’s your name?’ and come back with their phone numbers, which he places in his book. There are times when it is sad. On the street in Westwood Jan will say hi to someone walking by and the guy just buys it or gives one of those, ‘Oh the poor guy,’ looks.

“I remember when we went to Paris and London with another couple. He bought a French dictionary and everywhere we went he’d tell me to look up a word in French. Once he asked me to look up ‘can you dig it?’ I think his happiest moment on the trip was on an airplane when Alvin Lee of Ten Years After recognized him and came over for a chat.

“At first I was hesitant to go live with Jan, but he did need care and it didn’t sound like such a hassle. Also, he was only home on weekends. During the week he was staying at the hospital. At the end of the second week, I was upstairs alone at night and I hear this foot dragging downstairs and I know it’s him but it can’t be. Then i hear him lugging upstairs. I look down and there he is in his hospital gown with a sign pinned to it reading, ‘Los Angeles’ ‘How did you get here?’ I asked. He smiled, ‘I hitchhiked.’ After that he graduated from the thumb and would take the bus when he escaped from hospitals. I think that was because he was picked up once hitchhiking in the middle of the double yellow line on Ventura Boulevard.

“Therapy was never an end for Jan. He still thinks in terms of achievements. All he wants is to make another hit record. He still needs something to show.”

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by maryw7 on Apr 4, 2006, 5:02pm

If trying for too much too fast had helped cause the accident, that same desire was helping Jan come back. His mother said, “Looking back, Jan was difficult for us when he was growing up. But if it wasn’t for the strength, strong will and stubbornness, he would not have come back as far as he has. He refused to be dependent. When at first they gave him a wheelchair, he got out of bed, pushed it away and groped along the wall until he was able to take steps.”

And his music seemed to be coming back faster than words. The tonal senses, brain specialists theorize, are located on the right side of the brain–in Jan’s case, the unharmed side. After a while Brian Wilson, Davy Jones (Monkees), Don Peek and a few others would come by and jam and for Jan it would all be happening again. He would be writing and arranging music; but he couldn’t write words. He couldn’t concentrate long enough to form rhymes as he lacked a strong power of concentration. So, Peek brought over Joni Jacobs, a painter now dabbling in writing country songs. Peek had told her to meet Jan and decide if she wanted to work with him. She sensed he still had it and returned with some lyrics.

They wrote about ten songs, the best being “Mother Earth” and “Tinsel Town.” “He wrote music from scratch,” she recalled. “Music just shoots through his head and repeats itself in patterns.”

They worked together at Jan’s house or by phone. Even when Jan was in the hospital for the correctional operations he would call and suggest changes in phrases. “I can remember when he would walk to my house at three or four in the morning to tell me new lyrics,” she recalled. “He’d be wearing a suede coat soaked in perspiration from dragging his way the four or five miles just to talk music.

“Jan would often call and describe some girl he just met; her eyes, hair, whatever, and ask me to write a song about the girl. He’s more pop than poetic. He writes for Joe-average kid, not way-out kid. It must be so frustrating. So many people thought his mind was wiped out. So they didn’t give him any attention. All the time he was in there crying to get out. It must be like being buried alive.”

Jan returned to the studio to record “Mother Earth” in 1970. The song was nice but Jan, although much improved since his Warner Bros. showing, was still not ready. He could not sing the song through in its entirety and it was put together in pieces of tape. It was recorded on Ode Records and Cash Box picked it as the “Sleeper of the Week.” It just slept and would not wake up. Record stores would not stock it and DJs would not plug it; they thought it was a terrific try, however.

Six months after the electrical implant in his right leg, Jan was stopped by the highway patrol for hitchhiking on the San Diego freeway on-ramp. “What are you doing?” said an officer. “Hitchhiking,” replied Jan. “You can’t do that,” said the officer as he and his partner got out of their vehicle and approached. Jan got nervous, so nervous he couldn’t speak or remember to reach in his right pocket and produce the card which read, “My name is Jan Berry. I am under pressure and cannot communicate.” Below it read, “Not under the influence of drugs or alcohol–Roy Whitlow.”

“What drug have you been taking?” bellowed the officer. He put Jan up against the vehicle and began to frisk him. At the waist he felt the hard lumpy battery under the shirt. A weapon? The officer jumped back and drew his revolver. Jan regainded his composure. The card was in his pocket! He reached for it; a mistake for anyone being frisked. The officer grabbed Jan’s hand before it reached the card and handcuffed it. Jan’s wrists are large and the cuffs hurt. It hurt worse when his limp hand was wrenched behind his back and also cuffed.

When Pam arrived for him at the police station on Purdue Avenue she found Jan sitting on the desk surrounded by ten police officers, singing “Hitch-a-ride-to-Hollywood.”

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by maryw7 on Apr 4, 2006, 7:06pm

Jan greeted me at the door. He said he remembered our meeting in Palm Springs four years before. He offered his right hand for a shake and after hesitating I took it and felt a surprisingly strong grip. But he needed the assistance of his other hand to release it.

Mounted on the wall were golden records, on the piano was sheet music for “Tinsel Town.” Jan and Dean album covers decorated the fireplace. his room was filled with posters: the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Laurel and Hardy, a blow-up of Jill Gibson. A book sat on a table, the title Whatever Became Of . . .? The Story of What Has Happened to Famous Personalities of Yesteryear. It was a gift from somebody. A joke?

Jan seemed to enjoy interviewing me. “What are you like?” “How old are you?” I told him that the next day would be my birthday. He insisted that I stay until midnight, “so we can celebrate.”

We began to talk about Jan Berry. “I don’t remember the accident,” he said. “Most of it afterwards was like a dream. It’s like trying to remember your childhood. It was frustrating. It still is. I am a man in all respects. I am intelligent. But when I talk I sound like a child.”

We talked of old times and of all his arrests when he was kid. He laughed as I mentioned each one, nodding his head yes, as if he were enjoying an old familiar movie. He couldn’t describe it all himself but he agreed it all did happen in some past happy time.

Later he wanted to go for coffee. “The House of Pies,” Jan suggested. “I’ve just got to put my boots, my shoes, my shoes and . . . my shoes and . . .sh . . . sh. Don’t tell me. My shoes and sh . . . socks.

On the way over he sang “Hang On Sloopy,” with the radio. Jan and Dean had recorded it once. The waitress approached and when Jan spoke you could tell right away she thought he was stoned. “I’ll come back when you are ready to order,” she said harshly and moved on to another table. When she returned Jan spoke first: “Hot chocolate, heavy on the whipped cream.”

Sometimes the conversation moved too quickly and Jan was left behind. He would try not to show it, but fake it like he understood, hoping he was giving the right responses. “Why not?” he would later say. “Doesn’t everyone do that to a degree?” When communications did break down he became apologetic. He is told he doesn’t have to say he’s sorry but he continued to say it. At twelve o’clock he said, “Happy Birthday.”

Several months after my birthday talk with Jan, I drove over to the A&M building in Los Angeles. Jan was going to record “Tinsel Town.” It was the moment he had been waiting for since his days at Rancho Los Amigos, the moment he had dreamed about in 1969 under the palm Springs sun.

Jan sat in the sound room on a high, revolving chair. He was separated from the rest of us there by a room-sized plate of glass. The man at the mixing board punched a button and the background music to “Tinsel Town” filled both rooms.

“Boost up the guitar track,” Jan instructed. “Bring the drums down a little and also the bass. I want to get the tune.” In the control room with us were two women rehearsing their chorus: “It’s going to be all right in Tinsel Town, ooh doo wah–with you.”

It turned quiet. Jan listened to the music, waited for his start and began to sing. A few notes and then his voice broke. He failed. the mixer sighed. he remembered “Mother Earth”–the dubbing, the cutting, the hours. Not again, he thought.

The music started again and so did jan. We sat incredulous as he sang the whole song through. The voice was smooth and with the music. Everyone in Studio “E” was enjoying it.

“Not bad,” said the mixer. “There won’t be a splicing job this time.” Jan could do it: sing it through and beautifully, despite the fact that he has only one good ear to check his own voice. He had been rehearsing the song for five years.

Joni Jacob’s lyrics were cute. The song was strictly Jan and Dean style. It wasn’t heavy, just fun. In the middle Jan gave out a large McCartney-ish “Oooooooh.”

“Much better than ‘Mother Earth,’ ” muttered the mixer. “He could barely talk then.”

After Jan tried another the mixer called for a break. Jan’s singing was played back and he sang with it. He heard the “Oooooooh” and reacted. “Too much, wow.” The brunette chorus was having some fun in the corner, nostalgia-style . . . “I’ve got a ’34 wagon and we call it a woody . . . You know it’s not very cherry, it’s an oldie but a goodie . . .”

Jan started singing again. “Voice sounds fine,” said the mixer. “I’m not doing a hell of a lot to equalize it. Tone control, a little middle range . . . gives it more presence.”

Another mixer stopped by. He was impressed “It’s the full cycle,” he said. “He was on top once. Now, maybe . . .”

The Hollywood Palladium held a “Surfers’ Stomp Reunion” concert in the summer of 1973. The crowd, made up mainly of barefoot blond teenagers from Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach, was really into the bands–the Surfaris, the Marketts, the Challengers, Dick Dale and the Del-Tones–but a segment turned hostile and booed when the featured guests, Jan and Dean, made their first live appearance together in seven years. The were singing with a pre-recorded tape and the audience didn’t know why. Nor did they understand why Jan was acting so funny.

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by jdschwec on Apr 4, 2006, 8:18pm


THanks so much for posting the article!! I

I was wondering if a piece is missing. Here’s what is posted:

“Two ambulance attendants went inside and brought him out through the top. I pushed back the windshield and held it as they pulled him up. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it, lifting the windshield, seeing his head cracked.”

>>> (Is a piece missing here?)

He had awakened once before, sat up and asked his mother how she was, giving her hope for the moment, and then lain back down. But that was weeks ago and he didn’t remember it. There was little that he did remember.


Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by maryw7 on Apr 4, 2006, 10:45pm

Hi JDSchwec,

Thank you for that….I really wanted to get this on the board after eedna expressed interest….i figured others had never seen it.

No….there is nothing missing that Paul has written. It is all here…except for the end which I shall put on now.

PS If you or anyone notices a possible other mistake, please tell me…I will modify. Thank you.

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by maryw7 on Apr 4, 2006, 10:50pm

Today, Dean Torrence continues to work at the graphic design business. He won a Grammy award in 1972 for designing an album cover for the group Pollution which featured on the front cover a chicken wearing a gas mask hatching out of an egg. In his office, on the wall, hangs a Baron plaque, which he may put on the new Porsche he has ordered. Most of his money from the Jan and Dean days was preserved in steady investments like Coca-Cola stock. He lives in a house once owned by Humphrey Bogart. Dean produced a single for United Artists, “Gonna Hustle You,” by the Legendary Masked Surfers. One half of the song was recorded by Dean, Jan and Brian Wilson in 1963 and the other half was recently completed by Dean and former Rip Chords, Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher. Dean is planning another album of old Jan and Dean material.

Music, Dean feels, is starting to swing back in time. People, he says, would like to escape from their problems, hear happy music, not social comment, and to do that nowadays it is necessary to escape to the past years, calmer years. Recently he produced and released on United Artisits Records the Jan & Dean Anthology Album, a collection of their hits. On the inside of the double album, under a drawing of a soaring seagull, Dean wrote:

This album is dedicated to Jan Berry,
which without his determination, talent
and his endless energy there would
have been no reason for this album.

Jan didn’t like the album. He felt Dean’s part had been overemphasized.

Jan calls himself “One Jan One” to show that he is singing alone now. Ode Records has just released “Tinsel Town”–two years after it was recorded. Jan recorded another single about the same time–a remake of an old hit, “Don’t You Just Know It,” with Brian Wilson. Though that cut hasn’t yet been released, Jan is sure it will be a smash.

Not long ago Jan was arrested again. He walked into Lum’s restaurant in Westwood with his German shepherd, Hilda, and refused to take the dog out at the owner’s insistence. Instead he walked up to the jukebox, inserted a quarter and turned up the volume on an Elton John song. The owner came over and turned it down and Jan turned it up again. They repeated their act one more time before the owner, thinking Jan high on drugs, called the cops. “Everyone at the West Los Angeles station knows me,” said Jan. “As soon as I was brought in they said, ‘Have a seat, Jan, you can go as soon as your dad gets here.’ Being handcuffed isn’t fun, but it has happened before and I imagine it will happen again.”

Jan estimated he has banged up his car about 42 times since his accident in 1966; he blames this mainly on the partial paralysis of his right eye. Money is becoming scarce after years of hospital bills and some bad investments. His house in Bel-Air had to be sold. His younger brother Bruce died last summer of an overdose of heroin and soon thereafter Hilda, the German shepherd, suffocated when Jan forgot her in his car. He has since moved into an apartment in Tinsel Town and spends most of his life alone–something he doesn’t like. “No one should be alone,” he said. He invited over 60 people to his birthday party and ten showed up. Four of that number made up the band he hired. With the group he sang some of his old hits but he was unable to remember all the words to any song.

He was recognized not long ago in Las Vegas during a show and asked to come up onstage and sing. Most of the audience was surprised when they saw him limp to the stage and when they heard him speak, “Many years ago,” he said into the microphone, “I wrote and recorded a song that was to become the story of my life.” Then he sang “Dead Man’s Curve” the best he could.

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by eedna on Apr 5, 2006, 12:38am

WOW! Thanks Mary, for the article. It gives some true insight into it all. I know Jan was ana nimal over. It must have broken his heart when Hilda died. SUch intelligence, but buried so deep. Trying to overcome the communication, when his mind may have been workig 110% at times.

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by admin on Apr 5, 2006, 7:44am


The Road Back from Dead Man’s Curve

by Paul Morantz as appeared in Rollingstone Magazine
September 12th, 1974

The official subtitle for Paul’s article is:

“The Tragic Life of Jan Berry, With & Without Dean Torrence”

In addition to a couple of stock images, the article also features an amazing full-page, full-color photo of Jan & Dean by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz. Very ’70s.

It also has Dean’s chart info (with the girls and cars, etc.), from the Anthology LP (’71) . . . on a yellow background.


Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by snoops71 on Apr 6, 2006, 10:45am

This took a lot of time and work, Mary… Thank you for being so generous. I had never read this before.

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by snoops71 on Apr 6, 2006, 10:49am

Speaking of their version of “Hang On Sloopy,” I heard it for the first time the other night. It has a much better beat and sound than the original. They sound like they’re having a lot of fun making it, too.

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by maryw7 on Apr 7, 2006, 11:25pm

Whew….i’m still recovering from all that typing….

Your welcome eedna and snoops and JDSchwec ….i did it for you. . . . and any or every one else who may have missed it through the years….when I saw the credits to Paul Morantz’s article at the end of the movie…I searched for it at the library.

(which reminds me….they are having a contest for a national magazine: how the library has changed your life…in so many words or less….I had thought of writing an essay on how I found Paul Morantz’s article at the library….and it changed my life…)

But it wasn’t easy to find the article and I figured some people may not have the ability to go searching for it.

Though this article is so important and did do so much to bring about Phase II, I feel it has flaws….everything does. It sure was effective in getting the right people interested and remembering Jan & Dean. There were a whole bunch of people out there in the world wanting to know how Jan and Dean were…. and we found them! And we got to reconnect with them….

It’s been great…and now, as a friend on the board, my friend, said a little while ago (Karen) ….it’s like Phase III.

And I agree with what eedna said:

” …It gives some true insight into it all. I know Jan was an animal lover. It must have broken his heart when Hilda died. SUch intelligence, but buried so deep. Trying to overcome the communication, when his mind may have been workig 110% at times. ”

That’s the nice part about the article vs. the movie ….we “hear” the real Jan and Dean’s thoughts from Paul’s interviews with them.

But it is awful hard to realize that Jan not only had to go through all the physical hurt….he had to endure the loss of friends and re establish his worthwhileness to some people…. but he is not alone…we all have gone through or know others in our lives who experience similar circumstances…or we may…and we can stand on Jan’s expereinces and example to find the way to be more steadfast (if we ourselves experience it) and more open to others when they are near us going through this kind of ordeal….

PS Speaking of your “Sloopy” remarks, Snoopy…I’m heading over to Dani’s board for us….to make a post on the neat thing you shared with me on your observation of that song…..just to keep us all “hanging on” together.
(Lovin’ it!)

PSS: In regards to what Mark M posted referring to the photo that appeared with this article…. it is over at the top of the 70’s pictures here:
on Surfin’….. I feel there’s another one, very similar…a still shot like this at the end of video… maybe we can get that…it’s really alot better, taken at almost the same time. Much more complimentary to Jan

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by snoops71 on Apr 9, 2006, 2:03am

Cool, Mary! I’ll head over there to check it out…

Re: What a present on Jan’s birthday…Paul Morant
Post by demigod on Apr 9, 2006, 9:07pm

Does anyone have a link to the article?