Jan Berry (William Jan Berry): American singer (1941 - 2004) | Biography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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Jan Berry (William Jan Berry)
American singer

Jan Berry (William Jan Berry)

Jan Berry (William Jan Berry)
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American singer
Known for Jan and Dean
A.K.A. William Jan Berry
Was Singer Rock musician
From United States of America
Field Music
Gender male
Birth 3 April 1941, Los Angeles, United States of America
Death 26 March 2004, Los Angeles, United States of America (aged 63 years)
Star sign Aries
Mother: Clara Lorentze Mustad
Father: William L. Berry
Spouse: Gertie Filip
The details


Jan Berry (1941-2004) was an American singer and rock musician. He and Dean Ormsby Torrence (born 1940) were part of the surf-rock duo, Jan and Dean.

Early life

Berry was born as William Jan Berry on April 3, 1941, in Los Angeles, California to Clara Lorentze Mustad (2 September 1919 – died 9 July 9 2009) and aeronautical engineer William L. Berry (7 December 1909 – 19 December 2004.)

Berry was raised in Bel Air, Los Angeles and attended Emerson Junior High School in Westwood, Los Angeles. His father, William L. Berry, worked for American business magnate and film director, Howard Hughes, as a project manager of the "Spruce Goose" and flew on its only flight with Hughes.

While at Emerson Junior High School, Berry played football. It was at the school where he met his future band-mate, Dean Ormsby Torrence, who also played football for the school team. They moved to another school, where they continued to play football for the school team. After football practice, the two would often sing songs and harmonize together in the showers with several other football players, including future actor James Brolin.


The Barons

In the late 1950's, while at the University High School, Berry and Torrence formed with other students a doo-wop group named "The Barons." Berry was the singer, Torrence provided falsetto, William "Chuck" Steele was the lead singer, and Arnold P. "Arnie" Ginsburg, Wallace S. "Wally" Yagi, and John 'Sagi" Seligman were the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd tenors respectively. The group rehearsed for hours in Berry's parents' garage, where Berry's father provided an upright piano and two two-track Ampex reel-to-reel tape recorders.

Noted American drummer, Sandy Nelson, was Torrence's neighbor and often played drums for the band. Occasionally, Bruce Johnston, who later joined The Beach Boys, also sang for The Barons.

In 1958, The Barons performed at the talent competition at University High School, covering contemporary hits like "Get a Job", "Rock and Roll is Here to Stay", and "Short Shorts". Following the contest, various members of the Barons drifted away, except for Berry, Torrence, and Ginsburg.

Jan & Arnie

After The Barons, Torrence was conscripted into the United States Army Reserve. Berry and Ginsburg continued to perform under the name, "Jan & Arnie." Their first song, "Jennie Lee," released in April, 1958, was a surprise commercial success. The song peaked at No. 3 on the Cash Box charts on June 21, 1958; No. 4 on the R&B charts; and No. 8 on the Billboard charts on June 30, 1958.

On August 24, 1958, "Jan & Arnie" played in a live show hosted by Dick Clark that featured Bobby Darin, the Champs, Sheb Wooley, the Blossoms, the Six Teens, Jerry Wallace, Jack Jones, Rod McKuen and the Ernie Freeman Orchestra in front of nearly 12,000 fans at the first rock-n-roll show ever held at the Hollywood Bowl.

By the end of 1958, Torrence returned after his military service. At the same time, Ginsburg had grown disenchanted with the music business. Ginsburg went to study product design at the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Southern California and graduated in 1966, after which he worked for several noted Los Angeles architects, including Charles Eames. After a few years, in December 1973, he was granted a U.S. patent for a table he designed.

Jan and Dean

After Ginsberg left the band, Torrence and Berry began playing music together again, under the name, "Jan and Dean."

In 1959, with the help of record producers Herb Alpert and Lou Adler, Jan and Dean scored a No. 10 hit on the Dore label with "Baby Talk."

The two were still university students at the time –– Berry was studying science and music at University of California, Los Angeles, and Torrence was studying advertising design at the School of Architecture at University of Southern California. Unlike most other bands of the time, the two kept university education their priority, while playing music and making public appearances on the side.

The "Jan and Dean" duo hit their commercial peak in 1963-1964, after they met Brian Wilson, co-founder of the Beach Boys. They scored sixteen Top 40 hits on the Billboard and Cash Box magazine charts, with a total of twenty-six chart hits over an eight-year period (1958–1966).

In 1964, at the height of their fame, Jan and Dean hosted and performed at The T.A.M.I. Show, a historic concert film directed by Steve Binder. The film also featured such acts as the Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, Gerry & the Pacemakers, James Brown, Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, Lesley Gore, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles and the Beach Boys.


Jan and Dean's musical career was interrupted in 1966, when Berry met with an automobile accident on April 12, 1966. He was in a coma for more than two months and awoke on the morning of June 16, 1966. He returned to the studio in April 1967, after almost one year after his accident. The duo resumed performing and in 1971, released their next album, Jan & Dean Anthology under the label United Artists Records.

In February 1978, CBS aired a TV film about the Jan and Dean, titled "Deadman's Curve." The biopic starred Richard Hatch as Berry and Bruce Davison as Torrence, with cameo appearances by Dick Clark, Wolfman Jack, Mike Love (Beach Boys,) and Bruce Johnston (Beach Boys,) as well as Berry himself.

Jan and Dean continued to tour on their own throughout the 1980s, the 1990s, and into the new millennium.

Personal life

In 1959, while studying at University High School in Los Angeles, Berry met Jill Gibson, the future singer of the rock group, The Mamas & the Papas. They dated for nearly seven years, and had parted around the time Berry had the automobile accident in April 1966.

On August 31, 1991, he married his then-girlfriend, Gertie Filip. Barry had met Gertie at a "Jan and Dean" concert in Ontario, Canada, a few years ago. The wedding took place at the Stardust Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Torrence was Berry's best man at the wedding.


Berry died on March 26, 2004, which also marked the end of the rock-duo "Jan and Dean."


YearAlbumLabel & numberU.S. Charts
1960The Jan & Dean SoundDore 101 (Mono only)--
1962Jan & Dean's Golden HitsLiberty LRP-3248 (Mono) / LST-7248 (Stereo)--
1963Jan & Dean Take Linda Surfin'Liberty LRP-3294 / LST-729471-
Surf City (and Other Swingin' Cities)Liberty LRP-3314 / LST-73143221
Drag CityLiberty LRP-3339 / LST-73392217
1964Dead Man's Curve / The New Girl In SchoolLiberty LRP-3361 / LST-73618042
Ride the Wild SurfLiberty LRP-3368 / LST-73686626
The Little Old Lady from PasadenaLiberty LRP-3377 / LST-73774040
1965Command Performance - Live in Person
Featuring their performance from "The TAMI Show"
Liberty LRP-3403 / LST-74033342
Jan & Dean's Pop Symphony No. 1 (in 12 Hit Movements)
Performed by The Bel-Aire Pops Orchestra, arranged and
conducted by Jan Berry and George Tipton
Liberty LRP-3414 / LST-7414--
Jan & Dean Golden Hits Volume 2Liberty LRP-3417 / LST-741710771
Folk 'N RollLiberty LRP-3431 / LST-743114587
1966Jan & Dean Meet Batman
Last album released before Jan's car accident
Liberty LRP-3444 / LST-7444--
Filet of Soul: A "Live" OneLiberty LRP-3441 / LST-7441127-
PopsicleLiberty LRP-3458 / LST-7458--
Jan & Dean Golden Hits, Volume ThreeLiberty LRP-3460 / LST-7460--
Save for a Rainy Day
Limited private pressings
J&D Record Co. JD-101 (Mono only)--
1967Save for a Rainy Day
Cancelled, but an acetate of the stereo album is known to exist
Columbia CL 2661 (Mono) / CS 9461 (Stereo)--
1968Carnival of Sound
Warner Bros. (no number issued)--
1971Jan & Dean Anthology AlbumUnited Artists UAS-9961--
1974Gotta Take That One Last RideUnited Artists UA-LA 341--
1982One Summer Night/LiveRhino RNDA 1498--
1985Silver SummerSilver Eagle 1039--
1986Port to ParadiseJ&D PTP-111--
1996Save for a Rainy Day
First general public release, featuring
the mono album plus bonus tracks
Sundazed LP 5022--
2001Live In Concert: Surf City
Audio from Jan & Dean's California TV Special
with Papa Doo Run Run backing
Legacy ATP062--
2010Carnival of Sound
First commercial release...CD featuring
the original mono album plus bonus tracks
Rhino Handmade RHM2 521476--
Carnival of Sound
Same CD as above, plus 10-track vinyl album
Rhino Handmade RHM1 521997--
2017Filet Of Soul Redux: The Rejected Master Recordings
Omnivore Recordings OVCD226--
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