Jan and Dean — The Forgotten Surf Rock Pioneers

Jan & Dean
Via WikiMedia Commons

The sound of 1960s Surf Rock is unmistakable. The most well-known artists of the genre are, of course, the Beach Boys. Many forget, however, that Jan & Dean actually hit the charts first.

Jan & Dean vs. The Beach Boys

It’s kind of funny when you realize that if you asked 10 people to name their favorite Beach Boys song, some would likely name a Jan and Dean tune. If, for example, you’re headed down to “Surf City” or rounding “Dead Man’s Curve,” That’s Jan and Dean you’re listening to.

The same goes for “The Little Old Lady From Pasadena.” To confuse matters more, If you look up the greatest hits albums of both bands, you will find some of the same songs like “I Get Around.” Over the years, they frequently covered each other’s songs.

Who Did It First?

So who deserves the credit for ’60’s surf rock? While the massive fame of the Beach Boys is undeniable, they owe some of their success to Jan and Dean. Mike Love credited the duo’s early hit “Baby Talk” with inspiring the Beach Boy’s first album.

Furthermore, The Beach Boys Did not have a #1 hit until after their competitor’s “Surf City.” So Jan and Dean were the real pioneers, right? Not so fast. While they did hit it big with “Surf City,” the opening line and instrumental track were written by Brian Wilson.

In reality, both bands influenced each other and were real-life friends. They did quite a lot to help each other’s careers and in doing so, contributed to American music and an iconic ’60s sound.

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