Dead Man's Curve (song)
|"Dead Man's Curve"|
|Single by Jan and Dean|
|from the album Drag City|
|B-side||"The New Girl In School"|
|Released||February 7, 1964 (U.S.)|
|Recorded||December 4, 1963|
|Genre||Pop, teenage tragedy|
|Writer(s)||Jan Berry, Roger Christian, Brian Wilson, Artie Kornfeld|
|Producer(s)||Jan Berry for Screen Gems, Inc.|
|Jan and Dean singles chronology|
According to the song, the race starts at Sunset and Vine between a Corvette Sting Ray and a Jaguar XKE, traveling on West Sunset Blvd. going west, passing North La Brea Ave., North Crescent Heights Blvd., and North Doheny Dr. The original Schwab's Drug Store was located just east of Crescent Heights on Sunset. The North Whittier Drive curve, a nearly 90° right turn traveling west on Sunset Boulevard just past North Whittier Drive, may be the dead man's curve in the song, but there is debate on the actual location of the curve. (See Talk) Jan Berry, of Jan & Dean, would later have a near-fatal incident in 1966 when he crashed his own Sting Ray into a parked truck on North Whittier Drive outside a house once owned by Roman Polanski near (not on) Dead Man's Curve.
The song was written by Brian Wilson, Artie Kornfeld, Roger Christian and Jan Berry at Brian Wilson's mother's house in Santa Monica. It's regarded as a teenage tragedy song, one of the most popular of all time. The song ends with the driver of the Sting Ray relating his last memories of the ill-fated race to a doctor. Crash-like sounds as well as screeching brakes are heard in the song. Deadman's Curve was used as the title for the 1978 biographical nationally televised movie about Jan and Dean.
Three versions of "Dead Man's Curve" were released:
- Version #1: Original version from the 1963 Drag City album
- Version #2: Single "hit" version with added horns, strings, additional backing vocals and sounds of a car skidding and crashing; from the 1964 Dead Man's Curve/The New Girl In School LP
- Version #3: An earlier rejected studio mix from the 1966 Filet of Soul album.
Live versions appear on the 1965 Command Performance and 1971 Anthology albums
There are a few minor lyrical differences between versions #1 and 3 and version #2 listed above:
- Versions #1 & 3 - "my frenched tail lights", "the strip was deserted" and "pulled her out and there I was"
- Version #2 - "my six tail lights", "the street was deserted" and "pulled her out and there we were"
According to Brad Elliott's Surf's Up! There are two basic versions: Version one: Lead and backing vocals: Jan Berry Background vocals: Jan Berry, Brian Wilson, Gary Usher Released: on Drag City LP, Liberty LST 7339, Jan and Dean Jan. 6, 1964 Side one, cut five 3:01
Also on Filet of Soul LP, Liberty LST 7441, Jan and Dean, April 25, 1966, Side two, cut three 3:01
Version two: Jan Berry, Roger Christian, Artie Kornfeld, Brian Wilson Jan Berry: Lead and Backing vocals. Dean Torrence: Backing vocals Released February 17, 1964 Liberty 55672 45 RPM (B-side: New Girl in School) 2:28 (2:21 listing on actual disk—Wiki says 2:27) Released May 4, 1964 Dead Man’s Curve/The New Girl in School LP Liberty LST 7361, Jan and Dean Side one, cut one: 2:28 Also re-released on several compilations, anthologies and 45 RPM records (some timed 2:39)
The song was covered by the Belljars, whose version plays over the closing credits of the 1998 film, The Curve AKA "Dead Man's Curve".
- Staten, Vince (1990). Unauthorized America: a travel guide to the places the chamber of commerce won't tell you about. Perennial Library. p. 307. ISBN 0-06-096514-2.
The real Deadman's Curve is on Sunset Blvd. just west of Whittier Dr.
- Kelly, Michael Bryan (1993). Liberty Records: a history of the recording company and its stars, 1955-1971. McFarland & Company. p. 278. ISBN 0-89950-740-9.
... and went past the UCLA athletic fields; then he passed 'Deadman's Curve' and turned right on Whittier Drive.
- Sherwood, Rick (November 30, 1987). "By the Numbers". Calendar. Los Angeles Times. p. 2.
Whittier Drive near Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills: Jan & Dean's infamous "Deadman's Curve."
- "Dead Man's Curve". snopes.com. Retrieved August 23, 2015.
- Borden, Jeff (October 30, 1988). "No Lies, Just tales of Demise Hearse-Drawn Tour of L.A. Travels. Trail of Star's Deaths". Travel. Los Angeles Times. p. 1F.
- snopes.com: Dead Man's Curve