Saturday, March 19, 2016

PrayForSurf Interview ~ Mark Moore, author of The Jan & Dean Record

PrayForSurf ~ Mark, how did the idea of writing this book hatch in your mind?

Mark Moore ~ I got interested in music at a young age. I began taking drum lessons in the sixth grade, and played in school all the way through college, where I majored in history. I had been interested in Jan & Dean since the first airing of Deadman’s Curve in 1978. I was just a 12-year-old kid at the time but the music hit me pretty hard. It got me listening to the Beach Boys and the Beatles, and lots of other acts from the ‘60s, and as time went on the dramatic aspects of Jan & Dean’s story had more of an impact on me. As the years went by, I could never find much about them in published form. The best pieces were Dave Marsh’s 1971 Anthology liners and Paul Morantz’s 1974 Rolling Stone article. In 2009, I was in New York City for an appearance on Dave’s Sirius-XM radio show called Kick Out the Jams. And I joked with Dave about how young he was when he wrote for Anthology (and Creem magazine)—about 21 years old at the time. Yet I was still a kid when I first read that piece and it was kind of over my head in places. I had to grow into it! In the ‘70s and ‘80s, the few fanzines were good but largely one-sided, for obvious reasons. Dean was the default spokesman after Jan’s 1966 car accident, and any interviews with Jan were compromised by his condition. So there was a void there, in terms of what I became most interested in learning about, which was the music arrangement and production. In the 1990s, I decided I wanted to write about Jan & Dean. I thought I would start by writing an article, and the first person I interviewed was Hal Blaine. But I tend to think big in terms of projects, and I quickly dropped the article idea. I also like topics that have been largely ignored by others, so it was a good match. I went on a quest for hardcore historical documentation, and the best place to start was to go directly to the source—Jan Berry.

PrayForSurf ~ You have succeeded at a Herculean task ... Describe how you went about tracking down contractual agreements, rare photographs (Dead Man's Curve map and crash pics!), recording session conversations, medical and military documents ... Any page I randomly turn to has a backstory on a song, chart activity, an eyewitness interview ... Both quantity and quality are impressive.

Mark Moore ~ Jan’s career archive provided much of the documentation. As a business man, Jan had kept impeccable records before his accident. Financial statements, legal correspondence, business contracts, studio invoices, original music scores—all were carefully filed and kept. This was a smart move, given what happened to him later. He held onto that stuff over the years, and even though it was rifled through and pilfered, enough remained to provide a solid underpinning for my efforts. Having this material was invaluable. It absolved me of being accused of basing my narrative on the memories of a post-accident, brain-damaged Jan. From there, I had to go looking for what I still needed. I researched the musicians’ union contracts with the help of archivists and staff at AFM Local 47 in Los Angeles. I conducted a vault/tape box inventory with the help of staff at EMI-Capitol/Universal. The crash pics were provided by the Berry family. I’ve created lots of maps for publication over the years, so it was natural to create a diagram for the book. I reconstructed the car accident and site using details from the official police report. I created the base and measured distances with modern mapping resources to present an accurate layout, as described by law enforcement. Jan had a number of original session tapes in his possession at the time of his death, and that’s where the studio dialog transcriptions came from. The military/Selective Service information came from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The medical documentation was part of Jan’s personal archive. Gertie Berry (Jan’s widow) did some legwork whenever I needed a family connection to get material, such as Jan’s school transcripts from Westport Heights and Brentwood Elementary schools, Emerson Junior High, University High, UCLA, and the UC-Irvine School of Medicine. Bill Berry (Jan’s father) also provided me with documentation. For example, after the accident, Bill kept diary-like notes that were enlightening and helpful. So these are basic research methods, putting all of this stuff together. Documentary evidence is crucial for any in-depth historical research endeavor. And adding to it, of course (the crowning touch), is all the commentary from family, friends, colleagues, and business associates—the people who lived it.

PrayForSurf ~ The chapter titles are intriguing - What do they tell us about the unfolding Jan & Dean story?

Mark Moore ~
·       1958 – Barons & Bomps:
A prologue sets the stage, describing the formative years. Jan’s main musical influences were black R&B artists of the 1950s. He loved them, and they shaped the kind of music he wrote for the Barons and Jan & Arnie—a style that later became known as doo-wop. Jan and his friends were in a Hi-Y school club called the Barons. As a partial offshoot of that, they formed a singing group using the same name. Jan’s “bomps” were a big part of the vocal experiments he did with the Barons (using full multi-part harmonies) and the bass voicings on his early records.
·       1959 - Pratfalls & Pandemonium:
The year 1959 saw the transition from Jan & Arnie to Jan & Dean. Their comedic shtick didn’t magically appear with “Schlock Rod” in ‘63. It was there from the beginning. You can hear it with Dean on the KJAN tapes from the late ‘50s. It came naturally, and their physical comedy was already fully honed. For example, at the Cocoanut Grove in Santa Cruz in November ‘59, they really poured it on for a star-struck15-year-old girl who was on assignment for her high school newspaper. They gave her bizarre answers, cracked jokes, got into an extended fake fight, and purposely bumbled and stumbled while going onstage. Jan & Dean made a big splash when they debuted in ‘59. They played the Hollywood Bowl in August as part of a multi-artist Dick Clark show. It was a sell-out crowd of 30,000, and 5,000 people were turned away. Loudspeakers were set up five blocks away to accommodate the overflow. The Los Angeles Times reported that “mass hysteria reigned” and that Jan & Dean, in their Bermuda shorts, “brought about pandemonium.” And this was before their first national television appearance the following month in September. They were killing it at home, and this level of stardom—together with the national pre-Surf Music teen rags tying Jan & Dean to surfing, hot rods, and the Southern California beach culture between 1959 and 1961—did not go unnoticed by the future members of the Beach Boys.
·       1960 - Skinny Legs and Ugly Kneecaps:

In 1966, Dean joked for Tiger Beat: “When we started out we had the image with the bermuda shorts and V-neck sweaters. . . .  We wanted to show everybody the coast was great! Then someone told us our legs were too skinny and we had ugly knee caps. It really made an impression on me—I was crushed! So we stopped wearing bermudas.” In ‘59 and ‘60, the raw R&B edge gave way to some softer doo-wop and a few suit-and-tie crooner type arrangements. From the outset, they did numerous concerts, live appearances, and television shows.
·       1961 - Heart and Soul:
“Heart and Soul” was a Top-30 hit for the duo in ‘61, bringing an R&B flavor to an old standard. They had moved from DorĂ© to Challenge Records. By the end of the year, they were on board at Liberty Records—which was home base during their biggest hit-making years.
·       1962 - Still Talking Baby Talk:
Now that I think about it, this was a lazy choice for a chapter title. Jan wrote a song with Don Altfeld called “She’s Still Talking Baby Talk,” as kind of a tongue-in-cheek follow-up to their 1959 smash debut. It was never considered for A-side release, but ended up as the flip for “Frosty (The Snow Man).” They had several chart entries in ‘62. By August, they had begun performing live with the Beach Boys.
·       1963 - Surf, Rods and Honeys:
This was the year’s titanic troika—waves, cars, and girls. And the Honeys would soon sing harmonies on “The New Girl In School,” the track for which was recorded in late ’63. Early in the year, Jan and Brian Wilson began writing songs together. The track for “Surf City” was recorded in March and hit #1 nationwide on July 20. It was followed by “Honolulu Lulu” and “Drag City.”
·       1964 - Crashes, Skateboards and One Last Ride With Granny:
This was their biggest year, commercially. They ranked among Billboard’s Top10 artists of 1964, placing at number 8. The chapter title features nods to “Dead Man’s Curve,” “The Little Old Lady (from Pasadena),” Ride the Wild Surf,” and “Sidewalk Surfin’.”
·       1965 - Easy Come, Easy Go:
Easy Come, Easy Go was the title of Jan & Dean’s feature film for Dunhill and Paramount Pictures in 1965. They had landed starring roles in their own comedy feature. Unfortunately, a train accident during filming severely injured several members of the movie crew—including Jan. The film was cancelled, and the title came to reflect how easily a major opportunity came and went for the duo.
·       1966 - Beginning From an End:
They had a song called “A Beginning from An End,” but Jan’s car accident brought Jan & Dean’s career to an end, and Jan had to begin all over again (from a personal standpoint). The year also marked the beginning of Dean’s solo efforts.
·       1967 - Rainy Days in a Carnival of Sound:
This was a rocky transitional year, as both guys worked on separate projects with a goal of keeping the music going—Save For A Rainy Day (Dean) and Carnival of Sound (Jan). It was a time of personal achievement for both, but also a time of conflict and major missed opportunities.
·       1968 - Blowing My Mind:
The Warner Bros. album Carnival of Sound was shelved in ‘68. “Girl, You’re Blowing My Mind” was one of its best tracks. The main theme among the album’s original compositions involved the inner workings of the mind. Despite his cognitive impairment, Jan was smoking a lot of marijuana at the time. It helped ease the generalized anxiety that was a constant part of his life after the accident. Work on “Blowing My Mind” was begun before the accident in March of ‘66, and the song is probably the best indication of the direction in which Jan wanted to take the music.
·       1969 - Hitch a Ride to Hollywood:
In ‘69, Jan began writing and recording a song originally titled “Hitch a Ride to Hollywood.” It was later released as “Tinsel Town,” a solo single on the Ode label in ‘74. The title reflected Jan’s main mode of transportation in ’69. He hitchhiked everywhere—from his rented home in Laurel Canyon to the house he owned on Park Lane Circle, for example. He’d bum a ride almost anywhere, and was often picked up by the police. A lengthy epilogue summarizes the era from 1970 to 2004, with an accurate timeline for recordings and the oldies touring operation.

PrayForSurf ~ "Jan & Dean" is in the book's title but at times it reads like the Jan Berry Story. What is your perspective on Jan as a person, a producer, a performer and what common misconceptions are you attempting to correct?

Mark Moore ~ The book is Jan centric by design. (Dean is writing his own memoirs, which is something we can all look forward to). I wanted to tell Jan’s story on a level that had never been done, and I especially wanted to focus on his pre-accident life and career. The format allowed me to present in-depth biographical information while also diving down into the weeds with minutiae. My perspective on Jan is that he was a brilliant, driven, and tormented individual. He was a rebel in school—an attention-getter not challenged much by his studies. His friend Brian Bruderlin called him an anarchist. Jan juggled his music career with college and medical school. He had a magnetic personality that attracted people to him. At the same time, his self-assured cockiness also bred resentment in some. But most of the people around Jan liked him, and he was close to Hal Blaine, Bones Howe, and other colleagues. The studio musicians really respected him. Jan was free-spirited and made his own rules. He labored under no one’s thumb but his own. And he was flawed, as we all are in some way. He never considered himself a great artist, but he was meticulous about arrangement and production. He was one of the pioneering record producers of his era. Self-produced artists were rare in Jan’s day. That phenomenon had just started coming into play. Few, if any, of Jan’s peers co-wrote their own music, arranged and produced their own hit records, wrote their own music scores, and were signed to a major music corporation as both a songwriter and a record producer. Jan did and had all of that by the age of 22. By virtue of his corporate contracts, he also co-wrote hits for other artists, and arranged and produced records for other artists.
            One common misconception is that Hollywood’s elite studio musicians were “Phil Spector’s musicians,” and that’s just false. They were everyone’s musicians, and Jan actually started working with them before Spector did. In fact, the players and the union that represented them pre-dated the Rock era. Another misconception is that Brian Wilson gave Jan & Dean hit songs to record. Let’s examine that widely-held belief. By that logic, all of the material Brian wrote or co-wrote for Bob & Sheri, the Honeys, Sharon Marie, the Survivors, the Castells, Paul Petersen, and Glen Campbell would have been instant hit records. On top of writing it, Brian arranged and produced that stuff—and most of it was released on major labels (Capitol and Warner Bros.) between ‘62 and ‘65. Yet not only were those releases not hits, they didn’t chart at all. Not one of them (and this was when Brian was at the height of his powers). Let’s break it down a little further. The only Jan & Dean songs that originated with Brian were “Surf City” and “Gonna Hustle You.” Both of those were incomplete and finished in collaboration with Jan Berry. Two other songs featured Brian as co-writer by virtue of using the melody from songs he had already written or co-written: “The New Girl In School” (“Gonna Hustle You”) and “Sidewalk Surfin’” (“Catch a Wave”). On his other collaborations with Jan, Brian was brought in as a co-writer (as part of Jan’s team). For example, the initial copyright filings for “Drag City” and “Dead Man’s Curve” did not include Brian’s name. It was added later. So why did Brian have songwriting hits with Jan & Dean and not the others? He had success with Jan & Dean because (1) Jan and Brian made a formidable team as collaborators; (2) because Jan brought considerable strengths as an arranger and producer; and (3) because Jan & Dean were already established hit-makers with a national profile when Brian began writing songs with Jan. The collaborations with Jan proved to be the only lucrative outlet for Brian’s outside creative goals. And it’s important to understand that Brian actively sought opportunities beyond the Beach Boys.

PrayForSurf ~ Brian Wilson, in his Foreword to the book, wrote of how much he loved Jan's sense of humor and misses him. What did you discover/uncover about Jan's relationship to Brian and the significance of his influence on the leader of the Beach Boys?

Mark Moore ~ I think Jan and Brian influenced each other quite a bit. Brian has always been clear about Jan’s influence, and has said that he learned to be ambitious from Jan. He helped Brian with technical aspects of the studio, and Brian brought ideas in melody and harmony that Jan absorbed. Brian was fascinated by the way Jan cut tracks. Jan was already an experienced arranger and had been getting label credit as an arranger since 1961, when he first signed with Nevins-Kirshner Associates. In ’61 and ’62, Jan was writing intricate arrangements for other artists. And Brian admired how Jan had everything “mapped out” before a session. Brian was a documented, paid musician on a couple of Jan’s sessions in late ’63 and early ‘64. If Jan didn’t add him to those sessions for any other reason, then Brian potentially played keyboards on “Dead Man’s Curve” (original LP version), “Hot Stocker,” “Surf Route 101,” “Drag Strip Girl,” “Rockin’ Little Roadster,” “Barons, West L.A.,” and “It’s As Easy As 1, 2, 3.” In the original music score for “Barons, West L.A.,” Jan wrote “Brian” beside the piano part. So evidence suggests that Brian played, rather than just getting a payday through the union. On other charts, Jan would sometimes include the style instruction “Brian Wilson Left Hand” for whoever played keyboards.
The “Surf City” sessions marked the beginnings of Jan using two drummers and multiple guitars and basses, establishing his signature sound (which got much better after “Surf City”). It was Jan who played a prominent role in steering Brian toward using Wrecking Crew musicians for Beach Boys sessions. Brian was influenced by Phil Spector, but was never a member of Spector’s inner circle. Jan and Brian, on the other hand, were personal friends. And Brian spent more time watching or working with Jan than he did with Spector. Jan holds an interesting place in the string of outside collaborators that Brian worked with—Gary Usher, Bob Norberg, Roger Christian, Jan Berry, Tony Asher, and Van Dyke Parks. Most of those collaborators worked on Beach Boys songs with Brian. Murry Wilson successfully kicked Usher to the curb, but he couldn’t stop Brian from working with Jan. Brian really wanted to maintain a creative outlet outside of the Beach Boys. He was writing and producing for other artists. He enjoyed doing it, but he also wanted those endeavors to be successful, to build his resume. Unlike Jan, Brian wasn’t signed as a producer, and he had to fight Capitol Records for full production authority over Beach Boys sessions, and to be able to record outside the confines of Capitol Studios. And he won that fight. So again, Jan provided Brian with a successful creative channel beyond his own band. Overall, it’s clear that Jan and Brian enjoyed working together. In early ’64, when they were doubling the lead vocals for “Ride the Wild Surf,” Brian’s unabashed admiration for Jan’s arrangement of the song came through in their studio banter (a transcription of which appears in the book).

PrayForSurf ~ On stage (TAMI and other concerts) and on film (TV appearances, their Surf Scene TV pilot, Easy Come, Easy Go photos) Jan and Dean looked like two college buddies simply having a blast. How would you describe their relationship? (personal, business related and in the studio) How did their relationship/roles change after Jan's accident?

Mark Moore ~ I think “having a blast” is a good way to describe it. They did, and it was evident all the way up until their final television performance in Oklahoma City, taped on April 9, 1966, three days before Jan’s car accident. In that performance, they destroyed “You Really Know How To Hurt a Guy” with physical comedy, especially Dean. They were friends, but there was also friction between them, which is not uncommon when friends are in a business relationship together. Business-wise, the bulk of the responsibility fell on Jan’s shoulders. He had separate songwriting and producing contracts with Nevins-Kirshner/Screen Gems. Only the artist contract applied to Dean, half of which was shared by Jan. So by ’63, the mother company looked to Jan to make everything happen. It was his responsibility to make sure that new material was written and recorded, that deadlines were met, and that they met the quotas in a given period that were stipulated by contract. All of the company memos and correspondence went directly to Jan (and not through Lou Adler). If there was a problem, Screen Gems’ attorneys leaned on Jan, and vice versa. Jan had an extraordinarily high intellect. Even as a teenager, he would step into a situation and tell adults what to do. As an arranger and producer, Jan wanted things done his way. And as Lou Adler confirmed, it wasn’t just noise on Jan’s part. He could back it up and pull it off, and he made sure things went the way he wanted them to go. Dean had to live with that. In the studio, Dean was punctual. He loved stacking harmonies and enjoyed his lead vocals. He was also a crucial part of their public image. Early on I think they had friends in common, and they dated girls who were friends, most notably Jill Gibson and Judy Lovejoy. But for the most part, Jan and Dean moved in different circles, socially. They had their own scenes. Jan had a core group of friends and collaborators around him, and a common theme among them was that they rarely saw Dean. Hal Blaine, Brian Wilson, Don Altfeld, and others—they all pretty much say the same thing. Some, like fellow medical student Vic Amira (who served as road manager in the summer of ’64), initially questioned the depth of the friendship between Jan and Dean. But they all came to understand the dynamic. Jan ran the show and was pretty headstrong about it. Dean probably knew Jan better than any of them, and was not as swayed by Jan’s personality—the kind of commanding presence that made a number of people (especially newcomers) want to fall in line behind Jan. I think they understood each other pretty well, and Dean moved in his own circle of friends. It got contentious at times, but the relationship worked well overall.
After Jan’s car accident, everything changed. Jan was not the same person anymore. Certain aspects of his personality had changed due to the brain damage, but his ego remained intact. There was a big conflict in 1967 between Jan, Dean, Screen Gems, and Columbia. The two companies then tried hard to bring both sides together to keep the music going, but it didn’t work out. In the ‘70s, Jan worked on solo recordings for the most part. After Deadman’s Curve aired in 1978, Dean was initially not interested in touring with Jan. Dean was doing his own thing. He had connected with Papa Doo Run Run and didn’t want to play small clubs with Jan. At the same time, Jan had formed his own band. He played with Paul Downing, Peter Tripp, and Joe Middler in ’76-’77, and Jan first formed the Aloha Band in ‘77. He toured all over the country with Aloha in ‘78. Dean grudgingly joined them for Murry the K’s Brooklyn Fox Reunion in July of that year. The concert was well received, but Dean didn’t really enjoy the experience and at the time was publicly negative about the performance, about Jan & Dean’s music in general, and about Jan’s band. Dean did join Jan’s group for several other critically acclaimed performances, but initially ruled out an official reunion. They finally came together in late ‘78 when Jan joined Dean in signing with Great Eagle International. In 1979 and 1980, they did four highly successful national tours with Papa Doo Run Run. It was the reunion the public had been clamoring for since the film aired, and Dean was now in charge of the touring operation. He was responsible for everything on the business end. There are a lot of moving parts in that kind of operation, and there was a learning curve, but he became quite good at it. So their business relationship had been reversed, and tensions often ran high. And Jan’s condition made him difficult to work with under the best of circumstances, but he made it much worse by abusing drugs. He got into cocaine and really made a mess of things for a while. Dean became frustrated and their operation started going off the rails. Papa went their separate way, and Jan & Dean toured with a new incarnation of their band called the Bel-Air Bandits in 1981. But after a rough summer, there was an ugly blow-up at the end of ’81, where everything came to a head, and the guys ended their reunion for a couple of years. In ’82 and ’83, Dean stayed with the Bandits and Jan went back out on the road with Aloha—and most importantly kicked his drug habit. Dean also performed with Mike Love of the Beach Boys during that period. They reunited again in ’84, in a limited way at first, and then pretty much never looked back. But the road remained rocky. Dean would get to the end of his rope at times, but they kept it together and entertained a lot of happy concert goers. They both had proven that they could perform successfully with their respective acts (and tour in Jan’s case), but in order to earn the bigger paydays, they had to perform together. That was the bottom line. That’s what the public wanted to see—the original two guys up onstage, overcoming the odds and delivering.

PrayForSurf ~The Batman album may be the least discussed in the entire Jan & Dean catalog, yet, in my humble opinion, it was ground-breaking in synching humor with rock and roll music. They were the Monkees before the Monkees were invented. Has their accomplishment of incorporating humor (in Batman as well as in other songs/cuts from their earlier albums onward) been overlooked? Under-appreciated as an art form?

Mark Moore ~ As Dave Marsh has noted, the Batman concept was descended from the comedy of Stan Freberg and Dickie Goodman, and a precursor of the brilliant stuff that Firesign Theatre, Richard Pryor, and Lily Tomlin did later. Dean was a natural comedian. Jan had a good sense of humor and had been a Laurel & Hardy freak from the beginning. Everything they did was calculated. Elevating “Schlock Rod” to B-side status in late ‘63—on what became a major hit record with “Drag City”—spoke volumes. It was a bold move and put the overt shtick front and center. In terms of the humor being overlooked or underappreciated, I think you could argue that the comedic aspect has in some ways caused many among the cognoscenti to dismiss them. But at the same time, many knowledgeable music historians get it, and understand the dichotomy of complex music arrangements and comedic content. But with Batman, the comedy skits weren’t radio friendly. It was the era’s best send-up of the ’66 TV show, which was already a parody. Aside from the album’s straightforward music cuts, the “Bat Cues” (backgrounds and connectors written by Jan and George Tipton) were fantastic.

PrayForSurf ~
The first time I heard I Found A Girl jumping out of my Made-In-Japan transistor radio in 1965, I was amazed to hear the DJ identify it as a new Jan & Dean song. It sounded like a new direction in their sound.

Mark Moore ~ Jan first started producing “I Found A Girl” in December of ‘64. Co-writer P. F. Sloan loved Jan’s arrangement of the song, and Phil played lead guitar and sang on it. For the intro, Jan used a variation of the guitar opening for “I Adore Him,” a song he had written with Artie Kornfeld that was a Top 30 hit for the Angels in late ’63 (and #13 on the R&B charts).
Jan was evolving as an artist and trying different things, and the song acquired a Sunshine Pop vibe. Aside from the basic rhythm components, the arrangement featured trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, tenor sax, two guitars (including electric 12-string), and percussion (chimes and hand claps). It was the first single Jan delivered to Liberty after the 1965 train accident that occurred during a location shoot for Easy Come, Easy Go. Due to recovery from the leg injury he received in the movie accident, Jan was late in delivering the next single and album, and Liberty president Al Bennett leaned on him over the tardiness. As an interesting side note, Bennett refused to issue “I Found A Girl” with a picture sleeve. Bennett told Jan that if he could deliver the next album by October 1, then Bennett would consider adding a picture sleeve to subsequent pressings of the single. So “I Found A Girl” was the first single of Jan & Dean’s Screen Gems era not to get a picture sleeve, and Jan hit the ceiling over it. He felt that the sleeve imagery was important for sales and to their public image. He wanted something other than a plain wrapper to greet record buyers as they sifted through the 45 bins in their local shops. Jan’s conflicts with Liberty and Screen Gems went much deeper than this, but it illustrates one example. The song was released on September 8 and cracked the national Top 30 on November 20, 1965. Sloan later released a slow, folk ballad version on his Dunhill album Twelve More Times in early ’66.

PrayForSurf ~ Pull the curtain back . . .

Mark Moore ~ 

Your biggest surprise?

One of the biggest surprises was how quickly Jan returned to the studio after his automobile accident—one year to the month in April of ’67. How about Jan driving again in April of ’67? Yeah, he got a temporary license. The next day, he rented a ’67 Camaro in Van Nuys and promptly crashed it into a truck. He wrecked two more cars in August of ’67. He veered off the road and hit a parked vehicle west of the UCLA campus. Sound familiar? Then he hit a parked ’66 Mustang at 11788 Bellagio Rd. The impact caused the Mustang to hit a Pontiac Sunbeam that was parked in front of it. In March of ’68, Jan was involved in a collision on the San Diego Freeway. He hit a ’68 Ford—crazy, right? It happened! And of course, Jan had plenty of fender benders before his big car accident in April of ’66. And he had more in the ‘70s.

A "What if?" or "If only" (and the implications of that circumstance or decision)

Sadly, there are too many big “what if’s” that had a negative impact on Jan & Dean’s career. Their first TV pilot Surf Scene died due to Dean’s peripheral involvement in the kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr. The same went for their planned big-screen appearance in the film Ride the Wild Surf. Their feature film for Paramount (Easy Come, Easy Go) was cancelled after the train accident in August of ’65. This was a big deal and a major lost opportunity. The screenwriter was Maurice Richlin, okay? He had co-scripted the Blake Edwards films Operation Petticoat (’59) and The Pink Panther (’63), both of which were hilarious hits at the box office.  The book includes a full and detailed synopsis of Easy Come, Easy Go based on one version of the script. It was a bizarre, over-the-top action comedy—which is exactly what you’d expect from a Jan & Dean film. The director was Barry Shear, but it reads like a Blake Edwards comedy. Song-wise, the movie would have included a title track a few of the earlier hits, plus “I Found A Girl,” “It’s A Shame To Say Goodbye,” and “Myron’s Lullaby.” And of course their second TV pilot, On the Run, was shelved due to Jan’s car crash in ’66. The comedy series was developed by ABC-TV and Ashmont Productions, and was shot between November of ’65 and February of ’66. There was plenty of room for improvement, but the show had tremendous potential. They would have had a high profile platform for introducing new music to the public. The Monkees debuted with a similar concept in September of ’66. After Jan’s accident, he suffered from a severe impulse disorder that would derail him time and again. Jan became his own worst enemy in ’67 and ‘68. Every time label executives and collaborators lined everything up to move forward in a positive way, the impulse disorder would get the best of Jan, and he would blow everything up without meaning to. So yeah, it was one thing after another. If everything had gone as it should have, Jan & Dean would have been unstoppable, commercially.

If you could ask Jan one question . . .

Hmmm. I’d have a lot of questions for pre-accident Jan, but here’s a good one. I’d get in my time machine and I’d visit him at Park Lane Circle, or maybe over at the Playboy Club on Sunset, or I’d run into him at the Plush Pup or Ships Coffee Shop. And I’d ask him why he didn’t write more songs with Dean. Early on, they did some writing together. They co-wrote about half of their first album together, but not much after that. Maybe Dean was not as interested (as a part-time endeavor). Or maybe they ended up not being very compatible, creatively. Jan’s close friend Don Altfeld was a stalwart co-writer, from Jan & Arnie in 1958 all the way through some of the Carnival of Sound sessions in ’67. But Dean was not. It’s an interesting dynamic.

Name the three most important people (other than Jan and Dean)! to the Jan & Dean story?

I would say Joe Lubin, Lou Adler, and Bill Berry. Joe discovered Jan & Arnie and really pushed Marty Melcher to help make them a success. Joe was an energetic Englishman, and he pulled all the right strings to make it happen, including going to Nate Duroff of the Monarch manufacturing company and Randy Wood of Dot Records for distribution. And in hiring the best R&B musicians, Joe set Jan on his path within the Hollywood studio system. Without that foundation, the rest probably wouldn’t have happened. Jan and Joe remained lifelong friends. Lou was involved in Jan & Dean’s entire career, from ’59 to ’66. He was their first producer (with Herb Alpert) and their manager. In ’61, Lou was signed to Aldon Music and Nevins-Kirshner based largely on the success of Jan & Dean. And that opened the door for them to sign with the company as artists. Lou became head of their West Coast office, and Jan signed with Nevins-Kirshner as a songwriter and producer on September 25, 1961, which really boosted him to the next level. Those contracts were absorbed and renewed by Screen Gems in ’63. Lou went to Dunhill Productions and Trousdale Music in ’64, and from that point Jan & Dean were managed out of the Dunhill offices. It was the Dunhill team (with Pierre Cossette and Bobby Roberts) that got Jan & Dean their later film and television deals. And Lou was the one who brought Jan and Brian Wilson together as songwriters. Without Lou pushing it, that important connection may not have happened. Aldon had even tried to sign Brian, but Murry Wilson wrecked that for Brian. After the car accident, Bill Berry became Jan’s conservator and worked tirelessly to help his son continue his music career. It was an exhausting effort, essentially a second full-time job for Bill (who still worked for Hughes Aircraft). Bill constantly had to put out fires and smooth the way for Jan, which led to his musical renaissance and eventually to the reconnection with Dean and the “Phase II” touring operation. In that sense, Jan & Dean had a second career, which actually lasted longer than their original run. During that time, Bill handled all of Jan’s business matters, often sparring with Dean.

The most underrated Jan & Dean song:

It’s hard to name just one. I would point listeners to the better album cuts and B-sides, like “It’s As Easy As 1, 2, 3,” “Rockin’ Little Roadster,” “My Mighty G.T. O,” “Horace, the Swingin’ School-Bus Driver,” and others. In terms of arrangement and production, the best of them are as good as or better than the hit singles. The instrumental backing track for “It’s A Shame To Say Goodbye” is fantastic—as good as anything on Pet Sounds, instrumentally.

PrayForSurf ~ Mark, make the case for the long-overdue induction of Jan & Dean into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Mark Moore ~ Well, I think Jan & Dean made their own case for inclusion between 1958 and 1966—26 chart records, including 16 Top 40, with 7 Top 10 (and 5 Top 40 albums) on the Billboard and Cash Box charts. The Hall is highly politicized and has been inconsistent in its choices. Jan & Dean meet any reasonable criteria for induction. The genre known as Rock ‘n Roll was barely three years old when Jan Berry penned his first Top 10 hit in 1958. The biggest acts of the era had more success, but by most standards, few bands had more hit records than Jan & Dean between ’58 and ’66. In terms of pop culture, they had everything lined up for success in film and television, but fate thwarted those efforts. They made an impact outside of the studio as well. Their antics on and off stage, non-conformity, and image helped pave the way for such notables at the Mothers of Invention, Iggy Stooge (Iggy Pop), and the Ramones.

PrayForSurf ~ What did I miss? Ask yourself one more question . . .

Mark Moore ~ As Bones Howe said, “Jan really did steal the tapes! He did all those things. The folklore is all true about him!”
[Special thanks to McFarland Publishing <> (800-253-2187) and David Beard, Endless Summer Quarterly]

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Interview with author of "The Beach Boys: America's Band

Pray For Surf ~ Johnny, please introduce yourself 

JOHNNY ~ I'm British, was a music journalist and now write books about music and popular culture.

Pray For Surf ~ What circumstances led you to write a book about the Beach Boys?

JOHNNY ~ I was asked by the British packagers of the book, Essential Works, for who I've previously written books on the history of Disco and The Art of the LP.

Pray For Surf ~ identify your audience(s); who are you trying to reach or influence?

JOHNNY ~ Not trying to influence anyone; the book's aimed at the casual Beach Boys fan who likes photographic books – there's nothing in it that superfans won't know or have seen before (although there are a few things that they'll spot as mistakes, I'm sorry to say).

Pray For Surf ~Your  book is a creative combination of history, discography, and photography. What does that tell us about how you approached telling the Beach Boys story?

JOHNNY ~ Everything you need to know!

Pray For Surf ~How is  America's Band viewed differently in Britain than the United States (take us through different periods of time if/as opinion shifted)?

JOHNNY ~ The UK seems to have always viewed the BBs as a surf band and representative of American culture, specifically of West Coast/SoCal culture, which was the stuff that dreams (and Hollywood) were made of back in the early 1960s. America likewise discovered the surf and custom car culture through the Beach Boys, but didn't view it as being as unattainable perhaps whereas the cold, clammy, Brits did. Brits fetishised the band as a particular kind of unique entertainment in the way that they did wrestlers, perhaps, or American comedians like Jack Benny and Western stars like John Wayne: real but unreal and great fun because of that. 
There's little doubt that after 1966 and Good Vibrations in the UK the BBs were always known for the pre-Smile music, and it's only ever been their Greatest Hits compilations that sold well. In the US the band were afforded more consideration for their albums after the rise of pop music magazines like Rolling Stone and Creem—not that they were ever critically acclaimed for much especially Surf's Up or Holland, of course. But in the UK the post-PS albums meant little and sold less than Greatest Hits and Endless Summer ever did.
It was the Brits, and in 1976 the NME particularly, who began the great re-appreciation of Pet Sounds as a 'great, concept' album I think. Since then a score of BB fans who also happen to be writers have repositioned it as a concept album (it isn't, as Brian has always said) and as something new and unique–but rarely if ever mentioning Brian's reasons for dong what he did with it, which was to out-Spector Phil. I think we Brits 'got' that faster and appreciate it more than US-based critics for whom PS is their Sgt Pepper moment. 
But there's no doubt that for every BB fan the live shows—for which they have to thank Mike Love, without whom the band would have ceased to exist in 1967—and the greatest pre-1970 hits are what have sustained their interest in the band.

Pray For Surf ~ You book takes us on an album-by-album excursion. 

What is the most misunderstood album released by the boys? ... 
JOHNNY ~ See above answer - Pet Sounds. I'd love to have heard the Ronettes singing vocals on the album

Historically, most important? ... 
JOHNNY ~ At the moment it's Pet Sounds and Smile, but that might change as critics rediscover another album that's 'misunderstood' or 'forgotten' – I've recently noticed nonsense being written about The Beach Boys Love You being a groundbreaking work of Krautrock significance, for instance (it isn't)

Most embarrassing? ... 
JOHNNY ~ Not counting Mike Love's solo album (Looking Back With Love) with its execrable version of Be My Baby produced by Brian? Has to be Summer In Paradise (there's a reason it's long been deleted)

Best album to discover the band? ... 
JOHNNY ~ Hawthorn CA

Any other "most" or "best" category? ... 
JOHNNY ~ Best post-1970 album Carl & The Passions So Tough; Best change of direction album: Wild Honey

Pray For Surf ~ What was the most surprising piece of history your research revealed? 

JOHNNY ~ That Mike Love attempted to trademark 'America's Band' and failed.


Pray For Surf ~ You analyze their single releases but (one of my favorites) Little Girl I Once Knew was missing. What was your reasoning ... And please give us your exclusive analysis here

JOHNNY ~ There was not enough room in the book to include analysis of every BB single, so we had to go with the hits and the important singles. Little Girl was their worst-selling A side in four years, and came in the middle of a run of great hits. In that year of 1965 they'd scored with Do You Wanna Dance (#12), Help Me Rhonda (#1) and California Girls (#3) before Little Girl, which only made #20, and was immediately followed by Barbara Ann (#2) and then in 1966 they had Sloop John B (#3), Wouldn't It Be Nice (#8) and Good Vibrations (#1).
Rather than my analysis of Little Girl I Once Knew, have Brian's, from 1995: "It was a fine song, except the intro is the only good part of it, and the rest didn't sound so good. I thought the song in itself sucked. I didn't like the harmonies, I thought they were sour and off-key."

Pray For Surf ~ Thank you Johnny ... What did I miss that would help us better understand your book (or point of view)?

JOHNNY ~ Only that if people really want to understand what Brian was doing all that time he was in the studio in the mid-1960s, believe him when he said that he was trying to emulate Phil Spector. So many so-called Beach Boys experts patronise Brian by insisting that their theories about his work are more important and meaningful than anything he has said —especially when it disagrees with what they want to hear. 
The 1976 NME re-appreciation of Pet Sounds begins by pointing out that we can't listen to anything by the Beach Boys now without hearing and viewing it through the lens of his tragedy; that tragedy (his mental illness) seems to be reason for others to ignore statements made by him about his work. Go back to the source and read contemporary interviews with Brian about his work.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Other Brilliant Beach Boy ~ The Story of Carl Wilson's Role With America's Greatest Band

Phil Miglioratti of Pray For Surf talks with the author of Long Promised Road: Carl Wilson, Soul of the Beach Boys about the critical role Carl played (pun intended) in the success and brilliance of the Beach Boys. Meet Carl, artistic guitarist, creative arranger, underrated producer. An in depth look at his psychological-sociological-spiritual dimensions. 

Listen here>>>

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Original (1966) Capitol Records SMiLE Promotional Album Cover

  • Begged this from a neighborhood record store owner in 1967 (it was in the store earlier).
  • Official album slick for promotional purposes only
  • Reverse side is NOT the intended back cover - front cover only afixed to cardboard

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

NEW Beach Boys Book • New Podcast with the author

The Book  ~  They were almost The Pendletones—after the Pendleton wool shirts favored on chilly nights at the beach—then The Surfers, before being named The Beach Boys. But what separated them from every other teenage garage band with no musical training? They had raw talent, persistence and a wellspring of creativity that launched them on a legendary career now in its sixth decade.

Following the musical vision of Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys blended ethereal vocal harmonies, searing electric guitars and lush arrangements into one of the most distinctive sounds in the history of popular music. Drawing on original interviews and newly uncovered documents, this book untangles the band’s convoluted early history and tells the story of how five boys from California formed America’s greatest rock ’n’ roll band.
The Author ~ James B. Murphy is a companion animal veterinarian in Washington, D.C. He lives in Bowie, Maryland.  

Exclusive live interview with James B. Murphy

Phil Miglioratti and Jim Murphy discuss his lifelong love of the Beach Boys and his almost decade long research and writing that have resulted in one of the most thoroughly documented books on the critical people, places, and events in the launching and stardom of American's favorite band.

Sample question  ~  Twenty-four chronological chapters, a nineteen page Coda devoted to examining the Hite Morgan Tapes, a dozen Appendices (including the floor plan of CANDIX Enterprises!), twenty-one pages of chapter footnotes (a whopping total of 1005 to be exact) five pages of bibliography (including Hawthorne High yearbooks plus audio-radio-video programs) and an exhaustive Index, all adding up to 422 pages of bordering on fine print sized font lettering! ...   Jim, describe your process of finding source material, identifying eye-witness or real-time persons to interview and how you found them. It looks to me that this back-story may be almost as interesting as the insights you gleaned from the people and the archival material.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2015

From Sharing Stage with Rolling Stones & Beatles, Now Fighting Ebola

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Assist News
Rock star turned priest, faces new challenge after dealing with the deadly Ebola crisis

White African Albinos Visit Holy Orthodox Mission in West Africa!

By John Tsambazis, Special to ASSIST News Service
Some of the albino children Themi Adams
FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE (ANS – August 4, 2105) – The Rev. Themi Adams, a former rock star, who found Christ and is now a Greek Orthodox missionary in Ebola-hit Sierra Leone, is now facing a new challenge.
Themi was formerly a member of Australian rock group, The Flies, and once shared the stage with the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, became a missionary after a dramatic conversion, has been facing the greatest challenge of his life – Ebola — which is killed at least 3,900 people in Sierra Leone.
Until recently, he has bravely refused to leave The Holy Orthodox Mission in his adopted country, preferring to stay at his post to help his people protect themselves from Ebola, rather than take a break in Australia.
Following this calamitous event in his life, Fr. Themi has taken on a new challenge by offering support to “White African” Albinos, who many believe are the outcasts of African society.
He is taking care of group of Albinos at his mission, who are demanding equal rights and asking the government for jobs and scholarships to help them fight marginalization, as on Friday, the Sierra Leone Albino Association was launched to help them fight marginalization and defend their rights.
Albinism is a congenital lack of the melanin pigment in the skin, eyes and hair which protects from the sun’s ultraviolet. Albinos are vulnerable to medical complications as well as social discrimination across Africa.
At an inaugural meeting attended by more than 300 people, the Sierra Leone Albino Association (SLAA) said Albinos in the West African country were “facing stigmatization, marginalization and harassment.”
Since late 2007, more than 60 Albinos, including many children, have been killed, their limbs hacked off and sold to witch doctors who concoct charms their clients believe will make them rich and powerful.
The government in Sierra Leone has no records indicating how many Albinos live in the country.
Amnesty International’s Solomon Sogbandi said the rights group was ready to “provide an enabling environment for their cause and act as a pressure group on government to ensure their social and human rights are enhanced.”
When he heard of their plight, Brother Themi Adams said that he could not help but recognize the need to help on this occasion. His peaceful activism and quiet humanitarian spirit could not get the better of him and he offered support.
Rev Themi said: “No they are not Europeans visiting our Mission in Sierra Leone (West Africa). They are indigenous Sierra Leoneans who happen to be Albinos (white skinned Africans).
He added: “Albinos not only suffer severe social isolation, discrimination and provocations but also experience associated physical ailments - extreme skin sensitivity to sunrays leading to infections and even cancer. They may also be afflicted with low vision or blindness. In Tanzania they are actually hunted and killed for witchcraft purposes.”
Albinos live with the risk of being killed, their body parts fetching high prices for witchcraft - but hope that change is coming.
Themi Adams rubbing feetThe Rev Themi's has been featuring their sad situation on his Facebook page, which has received many comments. They have included:
Vicki Christofi, who said; “As if life is not difficult enough, it is shocking to read of what added suffrage these individuals endure on account of discrimination. I had no idea, and pray that mindsets shift”.
And Nadine Abwi said; “Lord have mercy on them! God bless you Father”.
Last year, Mr. Peter Tayoung, the Chief Executive Officer of the International Business Communications Advisory Services and Training [IBCAST], maintained that the sufferings that Albinos are undergoing in Sierra Leone are common to Albinos all over the world. He therefore urged Sierra Leoneans to intensify the fight against discrimination of Albinos, and he described Sierra Leone as a “jewel” when he heard that the country has gained liberty.
Themi Adams also said: “Our Orthodox Mission here will seek to assist them in some basic ways through the blessings of Christ. I ask that you pray for their welfare and protection”.
Brother Themi is finally on his way back to Australia for the first time in nearly 3 years. He spent these past few years protecting his mission from the Ebola crisis. He has since set up Clinics and Orphanages to accommodate the families that were affected by the crisis, luckily they all have survived with God’s help.
Ebola Vaccine at Last!
Fr. Themi with gloves for his staffIt was announced recently that Ebola vaccine tests conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in West Africa (Guinea) have proven to be 100% effective against the deadly virus.
“If that is truly the case then this will come as a great relief for us living in Ebola ground zero,” said Fr. Themi. “Thanks be to God!”
Fr. Themi has been working with Paradise 4 Kids ( and if log on you can be kept up to date with his movements and itinerary of when and where he will be near you. P4K are planning a number of functions and fundraiser in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
Photo captions: 1) Albino children visit the mission. 2) Fr. Themi has been involved in a healing ministry. 3) Fr. Themi with gloves for his staff. 4) John Tsambazis.
John TsamazisAbout the writer: John Tsambazis is an award winning editor/producer with numerous credits underneath his belt in feature films, documentaries, TV shows and news and current affairs, both in Australia and abroad. John is a professional member of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts, and sits on the jury. He is executive of his production company “Clapstick Pictures” and is currently overseeing a couple of high profile projects in pre-production. He can be contacted by e-mail at
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