Airdate – Jul 24, 2022
In the early 60s, prior to Beatlemania and the British Invasion, California introduced us to a new sound – surfin’ music.
Leading the way were two entities – the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean.
Jan & Dean had been around since 1958 and were successful with songs like “Jennie Lee” and “Baby Talk” that were targeted for a doo wop type fan base.
As street corner harmony songs began to fade, Jan and Dean decided to follow the Beach Boys’ lead and began recording surf and car songs, extending their careers and employing some of Jan’s high school friends along the way …
Jan & Dean were good friends of the Beach Boys. In fact, very early in their careers, the Beach Boys opened for Jan & Dean a few times.
Jan Berry was a very talented musician. He also produced and arranged some sessions for the Beach Boys.
In addition to this, Berry co-wrote “Surf City” with Brian Wilson, a record that would become the Surf genre first #1 record in July 1963. According to one account, Wilson wrote most of the song and gave it to Jan & Dean because he was working on “Surfin’ USA” and did not have time to do both. Wilson also sang on the recording of “Surf City” but did not get listed in any credits because the two groups were under contract with different record labels, and it was a “no no” to record for or with the competition.
Jan & Dean first two albums, “Surf City” and “Drag City” (1963) and parts of their 1964 album “Dead Man’s Curve” featured the distinctive harmonies of Tony Minichiello, Vic Diaz, and Manuel Sanchez, three of Berry’s high school classmates.
The trio was known as the Matadors and in July 1963 released a song for the Colpix label that was arranged and produced by Berry. It was a cover version of the 1939 Spanish-language song “Perfidia” and included Berry singing bass. It never charted in North America, but it was a smash hit in the Philippines.
The flipside side of “Perfidia” was a song that, in addition to arranging and producing, Berry co-wrote. You can certainly detect Berry’s style from his early days on this record, one that may remind you of “Baby Blue” by the Echoes.
Here are the Matadors singing about the “Ace of Hearts,” this week’s Tom Locke moment in time.
YouTube video of this song: