Jan Berry, Half of Surf Duo Jan & Dean, Dies

By | March 29, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Jan Berry, a member of the duo Jan & Dean that had the 1960s surf-music hits “Deadman’s Curve” and “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena,” has died. He was 62. Berry had a seizure and stopped breathing Friday at his home. He was pronounced dead that evening at a hospital, said his wife, Gertie Berry.

He had been in poor health recently from the lingering effects of brain damage from a 1966 car crash.

Jan & Dean had a string of hits and 10 gold records in the 1960s with their tales of Southern California. Among them were 1964’s “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena,” about a hotrod racing grandma, and “Surf City,” with its lines about taking the station wagon to a place where there are “two girls for every boy.”

With Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, William Jan Berry co-wrote the lyrics for “Surf City” and “Deadman’s Curve,” which featured the driving guitar licks and falsetto crooning of the wildly popular surf music.

Berry’s hit-making career with high school friend Dean Torrence was cut short in 1966 when Berry’s speeding Corvette hit a parked truck and he suffered severe brain damage that left him partially paralyzed and unable to talk.

His recovery was slow, but eventually he was able to resume singing and writing songs.

In addition to his wife, Berry is survived by his parents, William and Clara Berry of Camarillo; three brothers and three sisters.

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