From the Land of Band Box Records

All Things Jan and Dean

November 13, 2016

A Dean Torrance Tale


barry-keenanWhile I am on my Jan and Dean kick, thought it would be interesting to share this little story which I located in a book titled “Surf Beat – Rock’s Forgotten Revolution” by Kent Crowley (Backbeat Books, Published 2011).  California musicians have been the fantasy of some very peculiar characters over the years, perhaps none more peculiar than that of Charles Manson and his brief and scary courtship of record producer/composer Terry Melcher and Beach Boy drummer Dennis Wilson prior to the Manson Murders.  Here is another peculiar character – While the book is primarily an account of the hard core surf groups especially from the early days of Surf Music in California, this item appeared relating to Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean:

“In autumn of 1963, having regained their footing as leading pop stars, their reputation suffered when Barry Keenan, a former high school classmate who had fallen on hard times, approached (Dean) Torrence and asked him to buy into a kidnap plot. 

Torrence took pity on his former classmate and interpreted the kidnapping talk as a veiled plea of desperation, since it involved the brother of yet another classmate, Nancy Sinatra.  Rejecting his classmate’s original request for $5,000, Torrence slipped him $500 to get back on his feet long enough to extinguish any pathetic notions of a life of crime.

“Yet, whether the classmate disregarded or misunderstood Torrence’s kindness, he followed through on his threat to kidnap Frank Sinatra Jr.  When the victim was returned home safely and the kidnapper’s identity revealed, police and the media learned of the incident and incredibly concluded that Dean – one of music’s brightest stars – actually furnished the seed money for a crime that in 1963 could carry a death penalty.  The event took its toll on Jan & Dean’s reputation, especially within the tight-knit community of Hollywood’s recording industry, where a Hal Blaine, Jerry Cole, or a Glen Campbell could find themselves backing Frank Sinatra within hours or even minutes of performing on a Jan & Dean record or Beach Boys record.”

SINATRA AND SONThe kidnappers – Keenan and two others – received $240,000 from Frank Sinatra.  The trio were promptly arrested and sentenced to lengthy prison terms but apparently only served partial terms.  After serving only 4 1/2 years, Keenan became a successful real estate developer.  He has written a book about the kidnapping.  He told law enforcement that at the time of the kid napping he always intended to pay back the entire ransom and thus deduced that his act was not a crime.  Keenan was 19 years old at the time of the kidnapping.

(It doesn’t seem that the mark on Jan and Dean’s reputation remained for long as 1963 and 1964 were burgeoning years for Jan and Dean hit records).

Jan and Dean Solo Vinyl and With Others

(Note: Non of these singles charted)

45 – Ripple 6101 – “Tomorrow’s Teardrops” b/w “My Midsummer Night’s Dream” – 1961


45 – Liberty F-55848 – “The Universal Coward” b/w “I Can’t Wait to Love You” October 29th, 1965

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45 – Ode 66023 – “Mother Earth” b/w “Blue Moon Shuffle” – February, 1972

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45 – United Artists 50958 – “Gonna Hustle You” b/w “Summertime, Summertime” – September, 1979

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45 – Ode 66120 – “Sing Sang a Song” b/w “Sing Sang a Song (Singalong Version) – March, 1973

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45 – Ode 66034 – “Don’t You Just Know It” b/w “Blue Moon Shuffle” – May, 1973

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45 – A&M 1957 – “Little Queenie” b/w “That’s The Way It Is” – July, 1977

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45 – A&M 2020 – “Skateboard Surfin’ U.S.A.” b/w “How – How I Love Her” – March, 1978

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45 – Hit Bound Records – “Baby Talk” (with Beach Boy Mike Love) – 1982


45 – Premore, Inc., – “Jingle Bell Rock” (with Mike Love) – 1983

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45 – Premore, Inc., – “Da Doo Ron Ron” (by Mike Love) b/w “Baby Talk” (by Dean Torrence) – 1983


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