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updated: 4/23/2014 6:08 AM

Dean Torrence making music and memories with his Surf City Allstars

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  • A decade after losing his longtime musical collaborator, Dean Torrence -- best known as half of the duo Jan and Dean -- is still making music with the Surf City Allstars.

      A decade after losing his longtime musical collaborator, Dean Torrence -- best known as half of the duo Jan and Dean -- is still making music with the Surf City Allstars.

  • Video: Surf City Allstars

 

Dean Torrence of the legendary rock 'n' roll duo Jan and Dean is bringing a splash of summer to St. Charles this weekend.

Torrence performs Saturday, April 26, at the Arcada Theatre with the Surf City Allstars band. They'll be revisiting hits such as "Surf City," "Little Old Lady from Pasadena" and "Dead Man's Curve," among other summertime classics.

"Probably the part that's the most fun is when you have people who sing along and even come up and join us on stage," Torrence said in a recent interview. "Most of our shows are pretty interactive, which makes it fun for us, too."

At 74, Torrence doesn't tour nearly as much as he did when he and Jan Berry were tearing up the charts in the 1960s. That's partly because he has more than enough on his plate, running three companies and getting two daughters through college.

"I've kind of never been so swamped," he said.

Torrence, who lost his longtime collaborator in 2004, credits his backing band -- a group of veteran touring musicians who have performed with everyone from the Beach Boys to Frank Zappa -- with helping him keep the music alive.

Occasionally he also tours with veteran Al Jardine and David Marks of the Beach Boys.

"I hand-picked them all close to 20 years ago," he said. "The chemistry's good. We always try to throw some new tunes in to keep it interesting. And the fact that they do most of the work, I love it. All I've got to do is show up."

Torrence averages a couple concerts a month and said he enjoys performing more than traveling.

Although he misses having Berry at his side, he said his partner's declining health -- stemming from a 1966 car crash that left him with permanent brain damage -- made being on the road a challenge.

"He was an old friend, and that's what I miss the most," said Torrence, who teamed up with Berry during high school in the 1950s. "But the last two or three years was a real struggle, because it was just difficult getting from point A to point B. That part I don't miss at all, and musically we can stretch a lot further than we could. It was just real difficult for him. But he loved it so much and, at the very least, he was there, and he put his best effort into it every time. If he wasn't enjoying it, it would have been hell."

Outside of music, Torrence, a Grammy-winning album cover designer, runs a graphics company, as well as a real estate firm and a small development business. One of his most recent projects was designing visual elements for the Beach Boys' 50th anniversary tour. He also is working with Mike Love of the Beach Boys on a 50th anniversary celebration of the song "Fun, Fun, Fun."

"The hard part is getting everybody to agree, including the record company," Torrence said. "It's not exactly fun, fun, fun."

Torrence is "always surprised" that listeners still seek out Jan and Dean music. At the same time, he's noticed a spike in the level of interest since Berry's death 10 years ago at age 62.

"About two weeks after I put up our website, Jan passed away, and we got something like 4 million hits, 5 million hits, and it stayed at millions for a couple, three, four months, then averaged like 100,000 or so a month since then," he said. "That's pretty cool."

Torrence said the most memorable moments on stage are when the audience gets involved.

"It's OK with us. Shoot, we've done it enough," he said. "To be able to share that with somebody else. I'll actually hand a wireless microphone down to people if they're singing along and let them actually do some of the vocal parts. That's the cool part. That's the part we remember when it's said and done. It's pretty wild. We're very lucky."

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