Saturday, May 12, 2012

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Jan & Dean

Artist:Jan & Dean
Song:Little Old Lady From Pasadena
Album:All The Hits: From Surf City To Drag City

The duo of Jan Berry and Dean Torrence are frequently viewed as Beach Boys knockoffs. But in fact they wrote a lot of their own songs including this 1964 top five hit Little Old Lady From Pasadena. Their success ended when Berry was in a near fatal car crash in 1966. William Jan Berry (born Apr. 3, 1941 in Los Angeles) and Dean Ormsby Torrence (born Mar. 10, 1940 in Los Angeles) met in high school and formed the doo wop group The Barons to enter a 1958 talent contest. The group rehearsed in Berry's home with drummer Sandy Nelson and future Beach Boy Bruce Johnston. The Barons split up when the talent contest ended but Berry, Torrance and Arnie Ginsburg continued to work together. Ginsburg wrote the song Jennie Lee as a tribute to a local stripper. They were going to record as a trio but Torrance was drafted into the Army Reserve. So Jan & Arnie recorded Jennie Lee and signed with Doris Day's label Arwin. It reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1958. Jan & Arnie recorded three singles and Ginsburg left the music business. Torrance returned and Jan & Dean had a top ten hit with Baby Talk in 1959. By 1963, Jan & Dean left Arwin for Liberty Records. Berry had been writing songs for others and both guys wee attending college. Jan & Dean's breakthrough came when they met Brian Wilson. Wilson wrote Surf City for The Beach Boys but was having trouble with it and agreed to give it to Jan & Dean if Berry helped him with the song. Surf City topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963. Little Old Lady From Pasadena reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1964. Berry wrote the song with studio musician Don Altfeld and Los Angeles DJ Roger "Hot Dog Rog" Christian. The three worked together frequently. The song is based on a joke. Supposedly, Los Angeles car salesmen told prospective used car buyers that a car was only driven to church on Sunday by a little old lady from Pasadena. The song popularized the joke and Johnny Carson used as joke fodder for years. Jan & Dean also had top ten hits with Drag City and Dead Man's Curve. They began to fade but on Apr. 12, 1966, Berry was in a near fatal car accident and it took him years to recover. Torrance attempted to continue but also started his own graphic arts business. He's been very successful and even won a Grammy for one of his album covers. You can get all of Jan & Dean's hits on this 1996 2CD comp first released in England and then picked up in the US by Capitol. Jan & Dean continued to perform on the nostalgia circuit for many years until Jan Berry died on Mar. 26, 2004 at age 62. Torrance still performs occasionally. Along with The Beach Boys, Jan & Dean were a big part of the Southern California surf and hot rod culture of the mid-60s. Here's Jan & Dean performing Little Old Lady From Pasadena in the 1964 film The TAMI Show.

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