April 12, 1966

On this day in 1966, Jan Berry (of Jan & Dean) was driving in his Corvette Stingray in Los Angeles at 90 mph when he turned onto Whittier, southbound from Sunset Blvd., and ended up driving into a parked truck. When paramedics arrived on the scene, they thought Berry was dead. Checking his vital signs, they found he was alive and rushed him to the UCLA Hospital.

There they found that Berry’s brain had been severely damaged and even numerous major brain surgeries could not completely repair the damage. Berry was in a coma for months and awoke unable walk or speak, and was completely paralyzed on the right side.

It’s eerily important to note: the crash site was very close to the legendary “Dead Man’s Curve,” the hit song that Jan & Dean had released in 1964. By the time the record had been released, that part of Sunset Boulevard had been re-aligned by the L.A. department of streets, and the fatal car wrecks here were (by and large) a thing of the past.

Berry took on his injuries head on. He had to learn how to pronounce words, write with his left hand, and he even surprised doctors by walking again. He was back in the recording studio again within a year, although the resulting album–a psych-oriented release called Carnival of Sound–wouldn’t get released until 2010.

April12

 

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