Dean Torrence, one-half of the legend surf music duo Jan and also Dean, takes in a sunset last month top top the beach at the Huntington beach Pier. Torrence is the man behind Huntington Beach's nickname of Surf City.

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Jan Berry, left, is shown with his longtime musical companion Dean Torrence in this 1959 photo. Berry passed away in 2004 shortly before his 63rd birthday.


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Dean Torrence performs at The society of Singers' 21st ELLA Awards on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014 in Beverly Hills, Calif. The event honored Mike Love, lead singer and also co-founder that The coast Boys, producer Nigel Lythgoe, and also backup singers The Waters Family.


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The coast Boys' Bruce Johnson, left, and also Mike Love, right, sing v Dean Torrence, center, from the duo, Jan and also Dean, classic hits handling surfing and hot rod cars because that fans at Grizzlies stadion in Fresno in 2002.


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Christopher Cross, Mike Love, Dean Torrence, and Bruce Johnston pose at The culture of Singers' 21st ELLA Awards in Beverly Hills in 2014. The event honored Mike Love, command singer and co-founder of The beach Boys, producer Nigel Lythgoe, and also backup singers The Waters Family.


Surf City was a mythical place, a paradise because that the era’s restless teenagers in the summer that 1963, when the song ended up being the very first surfing song to with No. 1 ~ above the Billboard charts.

Fame came quickly for the Los Angeles-born duo of january Berry and Dean Torrence, who became stars in their at an early stage 20s. They would construct on their success through hits such as “Dead Man’s Curve,” “Ride the Wild Surf” and also “The tiny Old Lady native Pasadena,” joining v their younger friends, the beach Boys, in creating the anthems that the California coastal lifestyle.

Skip forward more than fifty percent a century and, predictably, much has actually changed. Berry has been dead because that 10 years. Severely injured in a vehicle crash in 1966, as soon as his Corvette to win a parked van a few miles from the stretch that Sunset Boulevard recognized as Dead Man’s Curve, that overcame brain damage and partial paralysis come resume performing however died in 2004 shortly prior to his 63rd birthday.

Torrence, meanwhile, has found a lasting house in Surf City.


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Although the no longer surfs, Torrence, currently 75, is quiet riding the wave. That is a venerated figure about town. He runs his own graphic style business and also pursues amateur photography and philanthropy. He finds time come play surf music v his band at as numerous as 40 gigs a year, countless of castle local, some as much away as Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Everyone asks him: how does it feeling to it is in the initial singer of “Surf City” currently living in a real location named after the song?

“I love it,” Torrence says, comment his own question end a soda on the upper floor the Ruby’s Surf City Diner, in ~ the finish of the Huntington coast Pier. Replicas of jan & Dean’s yellow albums cave on a adjacent wall.


“I’ve been collecting signage for five, 6 or 7 years,” Torrence says. “I love going down the street and seeing a diner or a service or license plate structure or decal with ‘Surf City’ on it.”

Soft-spoken and unpretentious, Torrence is offered to touches of wry humor. That is fond of Hawaiian shirts and also cargo pants.

Striding along the pier, looking in which method hawklike with his eye squinting against the sun and his hair – greatly white currently – cropped high and combed directly back, Torrence pauses to allude out yet another “Surf City” sign above a shop door. That remembers, with noticeable relish, as soon as Huntington coast fought and won a court battle with the city of Santa Cruz, which additionally laid insurance claim to being Surf City.

“It made international headlines,” Torrence says of the protracted feud. “The publicity to be fan-tas-tic!”

Adopting Surf City to be all around gaining exposure, and also Torrence is ever before mindful that the large picture. No one can gauge precisely how crucial the marketing project has to be to Huntington Beach’s growth, but the city, which master the annual U.S. Open of Surfing at the finish of July, is experience a boom.

Busy main Street, close to the pier, currently spills over right into an adjoining advertisement strip well-known as The Strand. In November, developers suppose to open up Pacific City, a complex of stores and restaurants anchored by a 550-room deluxe hotel near relatively new existing will operated through Hilton and Hyatt Regency.

Five hundred new apartments room going in together with a 2-acre park, notes Kelly Miller, CEO that Visit Huntington Beach, who calls the “Surf City” moniker “wildly important” to reproduction tourism. Huntington coast now commands one of the highest average room rates in Orange ar – $242 a night – and also draws increase of 13 million tourists a year.

Standing at Pacific coast Highway and also Main Street, under the mute gaze of a statue the surfing legend duke Kahanamoku, you can see the pier extending beyond the breakers and teens strolling by in bikinis and also boardshorts.

“You deserve to say, ‘I’m here. I’m in ~ the times Square that surfing,’ ” müller says. “People conjure this picture of Surf City USA – it method surfing, bonfires, woodies and old cars, good beach tunes and small-town America. We have actually all those things.”

Torrence embodies something that Huntington Beach’s small-town roots, müller says. “He’s most likely one of the most approachable pop icons you can ever meet. He’s unassuming. He has actually a feeling of serenity around him. He still flashes that good teen idol smile.”

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His parents, who were life in the bay Area, were on a job-scouting expedition to Los Angeles once Torrence to be born prematurely in 1940. They witnessed his birth below as a sign they must settle in southern California, and also Torrence’s father, Maurice, embraced a job at Wilshire Oil Co. “I to be lucky,” Torrence says. “Had castle gone earlier … ”

His voice trails off. Torrence would certainly not have grown up in West Los Angeles no one met jan Berry while on a small high institution football team in Westwood, no one performed through him in a garage band while at college High in Los Angeles. He would not have actually befriended the Beach guys – younger surf-singing youngsters who would end up being protégés the Jan and Dean and regular collaborators with castle on albums and also in concerts.

The previous is a big deal for Torrence. He has actually abundant memory of people, trips, concerts, Berry’s automobile crash. The emotional devastation it caused, derailing the duo’s career and rendering Berry, who had been experiment at a genius level, barely able come function. “He go from an IQ of 177 come 68,” Torrence says. “I felt very badly because that him, and upset at how careless and reckless the was.”

In the aftermath, Torrence resorted to graphic design, a subject he had actually studied in ~ USC; he started creating album covers, earning a Grammy compensation in 1971 for co-designing the album “Pollution” by Pollution.

Only after 13 year of challenging rehabilitation was Berry able to return to the stage.

Jan and Dean officially toured again indigenous 1980 come 2004, until Berry’s sudden death from a seizure. Crowds taken on them, Torrence says, however Berry had actually lost his songwriting prowess, and also the rigors the traveling and performing were “extremely challenging for him – and also for us,” Torrence recalls. Berry had minimal use the the entire right next of his body. That dragged his right foot. He had actually to learn to write v his left hand.

Torrence watch a “huge parallel” in the mental struggles the Berry and their friend Brian Wilson the the beach Boys, who is the subject of the new biopic “Love & Mercy.”

Torrence is just as apt, however, to talk around current topics: the proprietors that downtown Huntington Beach. The Surfing to walk of fame (he thinks the “stars” must be starfish) on main Street. And also the design work the plans to begin for next year’s 50th anniversary that the coast Boys’ “Good Vibrations” album.

Of the past, Torrence states simply: “It’s in the past. Ns guess I’m blessed sufficient to have thousands of things I’m as interested in – stuff ns haven’t done yet. Ns feel sorry for those world who only have the past as the only good time they’ve ever before had.”

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When Cindy Cross, manager of the international Surfing Museum, asks because that Torrence’s help in staging a fundraiser for the tiny facility just off main Street, Torrence rounds up three various other members that his band to pat on the patio the the SeaCliff country Club.

It’s a lovely setting, overlooking a fountain and pond and also the environment-friendly contours of the golf course, with the sun slipping towards the ocean.

“Anybody have any type of requests?” asks a band member.

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“‘Surf City!’” cross says.

Torrence feigns indignation. “We don’t begin out through it!” he says. “Obviously, she’s no in display business.”

The tape rolls through a collection of classics, the soundtrack of the boomer generation: “Pipeline,” “Hotel California,” “Sloop man B.”

The sunlight nears the horizon as they launch into “Surf City.” Torrence smiles. The looks happy. Fewer 보다 30 spectators occupy the patio, but the tape might too be play a jam-packed angel Stadium as it closes the end the set with a high-energy rendition that the beach Boys’ “Surfin’ U.S.A.”

“… Everybody’s gone surrrrfin’, surfin’ U.S.A.”