Dead Man’s Curve: The Rock ’n’ Roll Life of Jan Berry
Mark A. Moore
Jan Berry, leader of the music duo Jan & Dean from the late 1950s to mid-1960s, was an intense character who experienced more in his first 25 years than many do in a lifetime. As an architect of the West Coast sound, he was one of rock ‘n’ roll’s original rebels—brilliant, charismatic, reckless, and flawed. As a songwriter, music arranger, and record producer for Nevin-Kirshner Associates and Screen Gems-Columbia Music, Berry was one of the pioneering self-produced artists of his era in Hollywood. He lived a dual life, reaching the top of the charts with Jan & Dean while transitioning from college student to medical student, until an automobile accident in 1966 changed his trajectory forever. Suffering from brain damage and partial paralysis, Jan spent the rest of his life trying to come back from Dead Man’s Curve.
His story is told here in-depth for the first time, based on extensive primary source documentation and supplemented by the stories and memories of Jan’s family members, friends, music industry colleagues, and contemporaries. From the birth of rock to the bitter end, Berry’s life story is thrilling, humorous, unsettling, and disturbing, yet ultimately uplifting.