Jan and Dean

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Jan Berry (April 3, 1941, Los Angeles -- March 26, 2004) and Dean Torrence (born March 10, 1940, Los Angeles) were a rock and roll duo briefly popular in the early 1960s as part of the "surf music" craze inspired by The Beach Boys.

They began singing together after football practice at University High School in Los Angeles. Primitive recording sessions followed soon after, in a makeshift studio in Jan's garage. They first performed on stage as The Barons at a high school dance. Their first commercial success was Jennie Lee (1958), an ode to a local burlesque performer which they recorded along with pal Arnie Ginsberg. After Dean returned from an army stint and Arnie went off to other pursuits (by 1962, he was a hugely successful rock and roll deejay in Boston), the two began to make music again as Jan and Dean.

With the help of friend Herb Alpert and producer Lou Adler, they scored a modest hit with Baby Talk (1959), and then entered a long dry spell. Playing local venues, they met and performed with the Beach Boys, and discovered the appeal of the latter's "surf sound".With considerable help from Brian Wilson, they eventually scored a number one national hit with "Surf City" (1963). Subsequent hits included "Little Old Lady From Pasadena" (1964) and the eerily portentous "Dead Man's Curve" (1964).

Early in 1966 Jan was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident, resulting in severe head injuries. As a result, the group did not perform again until 1973, and made an official comeback in 1978 on tour with the Beach Boys. The group continued to tour until Berry's death in March, 2004, with 1960s nostalgia providing them with a ready audience.


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The group continued to tour until Berry's death in March, 2004, with 1960s nostalgia providing them with a ready audience. The word tympany is an old-fashioned one meaning, "swollen, inflated, puffed-up", etymologically related to timpani, or "kettle drum", but historically separate. As a result, the group did not perform again until 1973, and made an official comeback in 1978 on tour with the Beach Boys. The Broadway show, Five Guys Named Moe was devoted to Jordan's music. Early in 1966 Jan was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident, resulting in severe head injuries. Jordan died in Los Angeles, California. Subsequent hits included "Little Old Lady From Pasadena" (1964) and the eerily portentous "Dead Man's Curve" (1964). After this, however, Jordan's popularity waned and he recorded only for a small following of enthusiasts.

Playing local venues, they met and performed with the Beach Boys, and discovered the appeal of the latter's "surf sound".With considerable help from Brian Wilson, they eventually scored a number one national hit with "Surf City" (1963). At Mercury Records, Jordan managed to update his sound and released more hits, including "Let the Good Times Roll" and "Salt Pork, West Virginia". With the help of friend Herb Alpert and producer Lou Adler, they scored a modest hit with Baby Talk (1959), and then entered a long dry spell. By the mid 1950s, Jordan's records were not selling as well as they used to and he began switching labels. After Dean returned from an army stint and Arnie went off to other pursuits (by 1962, he was a hugely successful rock and roll deejay in Boston), the two began to make music again as Jan and Dean. One of Jordan's biggest fans was Chuck Berry, who modelled his musical approach on Jordan's, changing the text from black life to teenage life. Their first commercial success was Jennie Lee (1958), an ode to a local burlesque performer which they recorded along with pal Arnie Ginsberg. Jordan's recordings celebrated African American urban life and were infused with good humor and energy that had a great influence on the development of rock and roll; his music was popular with both blacks and whites.

They first performed on stage as The Barons at a high school dance. His biggest hit was "Caldonia", with its energetic punchline, banged out by the whole band, "Caldonia! Caldonia! What makes your big head so hard?" After Jordan's success with it, the song was also recorded by Woody Herman in a famous modern arrangement, including a unison chorus by five trumpets. Primitive recording sessions followed soon after, in a makeshift studio in Jan's garage. In the 1940s, Jordan released dozens of hit songs including "Saturday Night Fish Fry" (one of many contenders for the title of "First rock and roll record"), "Blue Light Boogie", "Ain't Nobody Here but Us Chickens", "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby?", "Ain't That Just Like a Woman", and the multi-million seller "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie". They began singing together after football practice at University High School in Los Angeles. The band's sound was similar to that of Fats Waller and his rhythm, but louder, with more pronounced rhythm, and that touch of the Caribbean sound commonly called "the Spanish tinge". Jan Berry (April 3, 1941, Los Angeles -- March 26, 2004) and Dean Torrence (born March 10, 1940, Los Angeles) were a rock and roll duo briefly popular in the early 1960s as part of the "surf music" craze inspired by The Beach Boys. Jordan played alto sax and sang.

Though this was recorded with The Elks Rendezvous Band, Jordan would go on to play with His Tympany Five, which eventually included Bill Jennings and Carl Hogan on guitar, Wild Bill Davis and Bill Doggett on piano, Chris Columbus on drums and Dallas Bartley on bass. In 1932, Jordan began performing with Chick Webb and Clarence Williams, recording "Honey in the Bee Ball" for Decca Records in 1938. Alto saxophone became his main instrument-- although Jordan became even better known as a vocalist with his ebullient personality. Jordan started out on clarinet, and also played piano professionally early in his career.

Louis Jordan was born in Brinkley, Arkansas; his father was a local music teacher and bandleader. Louis Jordan (July 8, 1908 - February 4, 1975) was an African-American jazz and rhythm & blues musician, and one of the few such to sell well to mainstream audiences in the post swing music era. Download sample of "Caldonia".

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