Jan Berry, 62; Recorded Hit Songs In Pop Duo Jan And Dean

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"Jan and Brian influenced each other so much; they had one of the most important friendships in popular music, particularly in developing the West Coast sound," said Mark Moore, who is writing a biography of Berry. He said Wilson learned about producing records from Berry, and Berry gained insight on harmony from Wilson.

The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean even performed on each other's records until their respective record companies objected, according to the New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll.

Jan and Dean's meteoric career might have soared higher but for the April 12, 1966, accident in which Berry's silver Corvette Stingray hit a parked truck at 90 mph on Whittier Drive in Beverly Hills, only a few blocks from the legendary "Dead Man's Curve" of their song, which is on Sunset Boulevard.

Although the accident, which put Berry in a coma for 10 months, initially left him unable to talk and walk, through sheer determination he regained the ability to walk and to speak slowly.

"Part of all that drive and all that ego and all that stuff ended up working in his favor, getting him up and out of that wheelchair," Torrence told the Augusta Chronicle in 1997. Torrence, although continuing to perform, built a new career designing album covers.

Berry's right hand and arm remained paralyzed, reducing his instrumental repertoire from ukulele, guitar and many other instruments to only one-handed piano. He had difficulty remembering lyrics he had written, and backstage would go over them repeatedly while listening to a portable cassette player.

But he was able to resume performing with Torrence in the late 1970s after a 1978 television movie, "Dead Man's Curve," renewed interest in Jan and Dean. The duo split briefly in 1981 when Berry developed a cocaine habit -- another handicap he overcame and talked openly about.

Performing, and occasionally writing, songs remained draining to Berry, who spent much of his offstage time in bed, according to his wife. Yet, because of Berry's determination, Jan and Dean continued to join Beach Boys tours and recently played a concert in El Cajon. In 1998, Berry recorded a solo CD, "Second Wave."

"He was an inspiration to everybody wherever he would go," said his wife.

"He has been a high-profile example for other handicapped people since 1966," said Moore. "He is always on stage at whatever cost to him, even if he is in a wheelchair. He was just not to be stopped."

He was born William Jan Berry on April 3, 1941, and played football with Torrence at Emerson Junior High School and University High in West Los Angeles. The two youths began singing together, along with Arnie Ginsburg, drummer Sandy Nelson and future Beach Boy Bruce Johnston, as the Barons.

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Source : http://articles.latimes.com/2004/mar/28/local/me-berry28

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