Officially Endorsed By Dean O. Torrence (c)2004-2014 MGA
Updated whenever we can!!!
“As I drove up to his house, I went through all the scenarios of what he could mean. I thought that maybe he was asking me to come and listen to something that Jan and Arnie had done and see what my opinion of it was. He did kind of talk in there about him and me doing a song together or something, but it was so loosey-goosey that I remember being totally confused about what it was he said. But the bottom line was, he said ‘Come on up and listen to some stuff.’
“So I thought, ‘What the hell? I don’t have anything better to do.’ So I went and did it.
“I can’t exactly recall if we sat at the piano right away, or just listened to some songs. Somewhere in there, I likely said ‘Well, where is Arnie? Why aren’t you doing this with him.’ Or, I probably wouldn’t have been quite that direct in those days. I probably said ‘Well, gee, where’s Arnie?’
“Jan said, ‘Arnie’s more interest in surfing than working on songs.’ Ironic, surfing, this Jewish guy, while the blonde guy who would later sing ‘Surf City’ wants to work on music. It still was not clear to me if Jan meant that Arnie was out from that moment on, if his absence was temporary, or what. Maybe Jan did not even know himself, and he was testing the waters without getting committed.”
Finally, the team was official. At first, Dean thought Jan & Dean would be on Arwin, and there would be no worry about finding a label. Then he learned that Arwin was no longer interested in Jan’s songs. “At that point, it was like starting from scratch. And if it weren’t for Jan’s remembering a couple of guys that he had met when he and Arnie had done a show with Sam Cooke, guys whom he was impressed with, who knows what would have happened.”
The two guys? Herb Alpert, later of the Tijuana Brass and the “A” in A&M records; and Lou Adler, later to marry Shelley Fabares and found Dunhill Records (Mamas and Papas, Barry McGuire, Grassroots, et al).
Dean still marvels at Jan’s awareness. “Somehow, Jan realized at age 17, that you needed a manager. I was scratching my head saying, ‘What do you need a manager for when you don’t have a career?’ But he realized that strong management could help you get that deal. We were used to making the demo tape ourselves and literally dropping in on record companies, knocking on their doors, sitting down in their offices, and getting them to play our material.
“So Jan called Lou and Herb after we had not made any headway with Arwin. I don’t remember even going to Arwin myself, Jan must have. I don’t even remember meeting the Arwin producer, Joe Lubin, who at the very least should have come up and checked us out to see what we had. It wouldn’t have taken him very long to find out. Maybe he was being squeezed out of Arwin and was more worried about paying the rent that month than trying to predict the future. For whatever reason, I never saw Joe Lubin.
“When Jan saw that he didn’t have Joe Lubin and didn’t have Arwin and didn’t have anything going particularly, we were still doing what Jan & Arnie had done, trying to come up with good songs, and we just weren’t finding any. We weren’t writing anything that was very exciting, and we were listening to other people’s demo records and listening to new releases that were on small labels and weren’t hits. But we just couldn’t find anything that was very exciting. We knew that was the regular process that we had to go through, so we just kept plodding along.
“Somewhere in there, Jan did make the call. Next thing I knew, these guys, Lou and Herb, were showing up at Jan’s place to meet me. They were about 24 or so. To us teenagers, they were men. Men. I mean, they wore suits. They were cool. They were real men. They were grown up. They didn’t live at home like we did. We considered them grown ups, they were mature men to us. These were guys who had been involved in a career of someone that we really respected, Sam Cooke.”
At Keen Records, Lou and Herb were the equivalent to junior executives. They were being brought along by the people in their 40s who held the power for themselves. And Lou and Herb wondered how long it would be before they had their chance. Did these older guys have to die first? Or did Lou and Herb need to more along. “When they came up and met us, and heard some of the tings what we had done, then they pretty quickly committed to our careers and gave Keen notice that they were moving on. So it was Lou and Herb who found ‘Baby Talk.’ They delivered the song to us, probably on a 45.”
As Lou recalls, it wasn’t just Jan & Dean who lured Herb and him from Keen Records. “Herbie Alpert and I were writing partners writing partners working for Keen records, which had Sam Cooke on it. We decided to leave Keen and I took a job for a management company guy named Lenny Poncher who was managing a lot of Latin acts in and around LA. Kim Fowley, who was a University High student with Jan & Dean, and also was on the edge of the music business (as everyone in LA was at that time, since there was no real contemporary music business to speak of, it was just starting up, everything was in New York.”
“One day, Kim came to me and told me that Jan, who had had a hit with Jan & Arnie, had a new partner and that I might be interested in talking to them. Either Jan or both of them came to the office I had that was actually an auto parts store in front and the management company in the back of the storefront.
“The first thing that struck me about Jan, and later Dean, was how great these guys looked. They both looked great. Also how different they looked, compared to most people who were having hit records at the time. They established artists were all dark haired, sort of Italian/ethnic looking guys out of Philadelphia. I hadn’t recalled ever seeing a picture of Jan & Dean or a picture of Jan with Jan & Arnie, but here was this All-American surfer guy. He played me sone Jan & Arnie records, said that Arnie was no longer with im and it was going to be him and another friend from University High, and they were out of their record deal and for some reason they had heard about me.
“Herb and I had only worked with Sam Cooke and Keen artist at that time, but we hadn’t had any real success. But we hit it off with Jan & Dean really well, so we thought we’d take a chance.”
Even with Lou and Herb, the garage remained Hit Central of Jan & Company. “The story is absolutely true that ‘Baby Talk” was recorded in a garage. Jan had an old Ampex that he had hooked up in order to give him some echo. That is how he got all the ‘Jennie Lee’ echo. He had the tape going through the head twice. It sat up on tope the piano, the dogs ran through, the kids cried, it was wild.”
Dean credits Lou and Herb with finding Dore Records “(pronounced “Dorrie”) for Jan and Dean’s recordings. In fact, Jan & Dean were never actually signed with Dore records property. Jan & Dean were under contract to Herb and Lou; Herb and Lou signed with Dore. “Dore was on one of their A or B lists. They didn’t even consider Liberty where we had our Surf hits years later, which, like most of the majors, was still doing adult pop music, not rock and roll. Mostly they went to the smaller companies. Unfortunately, there were more of them on the East Coast than in LA, but we didn’t have the wherewithal to fly to the East Coast and shop our product. That would have been a smarter thing to do, because then we could have been on a real, big, player label.
“But Dore was only a mile from the recording studio, two miles from the garage, and had just had a number one record with the Teddybears ‘To Know Him Is To Love Him.’ They had credibility, they’d proven that they could handle a major national hit. It was as good as we could do at the time, and it worked out OK.”
Did Dore have studios?
“No. All they had was one little office on Vine. What they did have was a distribution system already in placed and a name and an old record guy who was running it. That was all you needed then.”
(The next installment will begin with “Baby Talk”)
By Michael "Doc Rock" Kelly
Jan & Dean Torrence
With Arnie gone and Don incurably shy, Jan needed a new “&” man. (The act is invariably billed as “Jan & . . .” never “Jan and . . .”) Jan chose Dean Torrence, an ex-Baron who had sung “Jennie Lee” (the song, not the record) and had now returned from the reserves during Arnie’s reign. And, as Jan explains today, I chose Dean because I liked his harmony, and I really liked his falsetto.”
As Dean recalls, Jan used the subtle approach to recruit his services.
“Jan didn’t say, ‘Arnie is out, you are going to replace him,’ ” reflects Dean. “It was kind of innocent and noncommittal. We’d just played some football together, and Jan said, ‘Yeah, if you’re not doing’ anything, come by the house and I’ll play you some songs that I’ve been working on.’
We wish to thank Doc Rock for giving us permission to run this great article. We feel that there are fans of Jan & Dean out there that might not have had the opportunity to read this.