Jan Berry and Dean Torrence met at University High School in Los Angeles, California. They formed a Doo Wop group called "The Barons." The group rehearsed in Jan Berry's garage - recording their performances on a pair of reel-to-reel tape recorders.
Arnie Ginsburg and Berry wrote a song about a stripper named Jenny Lee. The song, "Jennie Lee" was recorded Berry and Ginsburg while Torrence was away serving six months of service in the army reserve.
Berry took the tape to a studio to transfer it to a record when producer Joe Lubin of Arwin Records heard the song and offered to buy it. Berry sold him the master.
The single was credited to "Jan and Arnie" and released in early 1958. It reached number eight on the charts during the summer. "Jan and Arnie" appeared on American Bandstand while Torrence was still stuck in the army reserve.
After a couple of follow-up singles which didn't perform as well, Ginsburg left and Torrence returned, home from his stint in the reserves.
Herb Alpert and Lou Adler produced Jan and Dean's "Baby Talk" which hit number 10 on the US charts in the summer of 1959.
Jan and Dean performed in concert with the Beach Boys in the early 1960s and became friends with Brian Wilson and the other members of the group.
Wilson gave Berry an unfinished song called "Surf City." Berry finished the song which became Jan and Dean's first number one hit.
More hits followed including "Drag City, " "Dead Man's Curve, " "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena," and "Ride the Wild Surf."
In April of 1966, Jan Berry was nearly killed in a car wreck. His recovery was slow - it took years for him to learn again how to walk and talk.
With Jan and Dean no longer recording, Dean Torrence turned to art. He became a successful graphic designer - creating many famous album covers. Torrence created the covers for several of Harry Nilsson's albums.
A TV movie in the late 1970s revived interest in Jan and Dean and the two made concert appearances together.
Jan Berry died on March 26, 2004.