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Back on the Road . . .


n the first half of 1970s, as Jan worked in the studio, Dean Torrence issued two successful compilations of classic Jan & Dean material that helped bring the duo back into the public eye -- Anthology (1971), followed by Gotta Take That One Last Ride (1974). Later, both Jan and Dean began to experiment with performing live on-stage. Dean formed the Legendary Masked Surfers, and performed with a backing band called Papa Doo Run Run. In early June 1976, Jan Berry joined Dean and Papa on-stage at the Palomino night club in North Hollywood. He sang seven songs with the group, and Jan, Dean, and Papa received a standing ovation from the crowd. It was the first performance by Jan & Dean together on-stage -- backed with live musicians -- since 1966. The positive response was a much needed confidence booster for Jan, who soon formed his own band called Aloha. 
 
In 1977, filming began for a television movie titled Deadman's Curve -- inspired by attorney Paul Morantz's landmark Jan & Dean article that had appeared in Rolling Stone three years earlier. The movie was a fictionalized telling of the Jan & Dean saga that focused on the personal relationship between Berry and Torrence, against the backdrop of Jan's tragedy and recovery. Starring Richard Hatch as Jan Berry, and Bruce Davison as Dean Torrence, the film aired nationally on the CBS television network in early February 1978. It scored big in the ratings for CBS. Literally overnight -- after twelve hard years following the accident -- Jan & Dean had a new national following. The film helped spawn a whole new generation of fans, as many youngsters (who were yet to be born when Jan & Dean were famous) now counted themselves among the duo's enthusiastic followers.

That summer, in a tentative step toward returning to the road, Jan & Dean headlined Murray the K's Brooklyn Fox Reunion in New York. The Beach Boys then stepped up to the plate in a big way. Jan & Dean's old friends extended an invitation; and both acts were soon performing on-stage together at packed concert venues across America (including Three Rivers Stadium). The Surfin' Deja Vu Tour of 1978 proved to Jan & Dean that their fans, both old and new, wanted to see them perform together again. The reunion tour was covered by People magazine, and paved the way for Jan & Dean to hit the road on their own. 
 
Jan fought his way through tough times in the early 1980s, when drugs and depression threatened to undermine all he had worked so hard for -- his return to performing and recording. Once again, however, the obstacles proved no match for Jan Berry's drive and determination. Despite the obstacles, Jan & Dean forged ahead, backed by the latest incarnation of their touring band -- the Bel-Air Bandits. A live album was recorded with the Bandits at a concert in New York in 1981; and in 1986, Jan & Dean released an album titled Port to Paradise, featuring some of Jan's recordings from the Seventies and some new offerings featuring limited input from Dean Torrence. That same year, in an effort led by old friend and associate Don Altfeld, Jan & Dean became the first American rock-n-roll act to tour the People's Republic of China (where they witnessed, firsthand, a rising student unrest resulting from Communist oppression).

Jan & Dean continued to entertain enthusiastic audiences. Their hectic touring schedule peaked in 1987, and continued to sail smoothly with numerous performances throughout the Nineties. In the new millennium, Dean Torrence launched a band called the Surf City All-Stars, and Jan & Dean performed a limited series of shows together each year.

 

Source: "'A Righteous Trip': In the Studio with Jan Berry, 1963-1966." © 2001-2011 by Mark A. Moore. All rights reserved. (Dumb Angel #4, 2005).