November 14, 2009

yes j n d

Long before he became known as the Father Of  Woodstock, Artie Kornfeld was a hit songwriter/producer (“The Pied Piper”, “The Rain, The Park, and Other Things”)

When I went to Los Angeles for the first time in 1968 there were three places I wanted to see Malibu Beach, MacArthur Park, and “Dead Man’s Curve”. Now 40 years later, I asked my longtime friend and sometime collaborator to tell me the story behind Jan and Dean’s  “Classic Hit”, and how he co -wrote “Dead Man’s Curve”, with Brian Wilson and Jan Berry.

One day, Brian and I were chilling and trying out this tiny Honda that the company had sent him as a thank you for writing the Hondells “Hey Little Honda.”  We were cruisin’ about 3 miles from his ex-wife, Marilyn’s mom’s house. Brian, as he was known to do, was pushing two hundred pounds way over what a 60 cc Honda could handle. I said Bry you should slow down, as in Santa Monica there is a lot of sand on the streets. We went over and the bike and were torn apart.  We carried half a Honda each 3 miles, bleeding like crazy, to an open door in an empty house.

bry pianoWe noticed a piece of blank paper on the piano and Bry sat down and I pulled up a chair and, I guess because of recent events I wrote down the words, “Dead Mans Curve”.

Brian started a two four piano rhythm but I don’t have any idea for the lyric…except I always envied Jan’s Corvette, sang to Brian’s chords” I was crusin’ in my Sting Ray late one night and an XKE pulled upon the right…” Bran repeated what I wrote down with the melody and I almost finished the lyric in about 30 minutes with me writing the words, some with Brian, as being a New Yorker after I put us on Sunset Blvd.

I had no idea what landmarks we would pass to that curve after Doheny where it turns right and heads into Beverly Hills.

We were laughing and Brian said, lets hear what we have, laughing at the whole trip and tripping on our wipeout still. I jumped up and said Brian stop, “I think we need an accident here”.  He responded “you are nuts Artie”, but stopped and hit a chord, for some reason at that moment I thought of Robert Frost Poem about two roads in the woods and went metaphoric putting in an accident.

In my mind symbolic with the point we make those decisions that may change or end our lives. I wrote something like it says on the record and Brian Started a Kick Ass chorus.korn

In walks the ever great loving talented Jan Berry who with Bry and a little me worked out the complete song. As Jan tightened up the song for a Jan and Dean Record, he was already hearing a finished product.

Jan sat down at a table, hardly touched the piano, except to find the changes and as only Jan with Brian there could do…wrote out the entire arrangement, that as I remember, and was not a note off when we went in with it to play for Lou Adler. It just seems like moments but it was really days later when we went in and recorded it. The reason we had to put DJ Roger Christians name on the song, Lou Adler would know more than I.

The musicians on the date included Glen Campbell, then a tough tee shirted ass kicker on guitar, and Leon Russell (wearing a suit). Then there was Earl Palmer and Hal Blaine, the only drummers you could put together, and it came out great.

Of course being about 19 or 20 I could not help but notice Lou’s Fiancée Shelly Faberes, in a very tight sweater. Dean did not show. I did stand behind Bry to get a falsetto sound that was a little different.

When the record came out it was the B side to “New Girl in School”

I guess I did my first promotion as for reasons so few know I reversed the Charts and “New Girl in School” stopped shooting up the charts and “DEAD MANS CURVE” RULED! Brian, Jan and I all lived “Dead Mans Curve” in our separate lives.

I’m really crying a little now as I write.  Love Brian and miss Jan so much still.

Artie Kornfeld

P.S. “69” was the only other time I let someone put their name on something I wrote.”


By Wilson, Kornfeld, Berry, and Christian

I was cruisin’ in my Stingray late one night
When an XKE pulled up on the right
And rolled down the window of his shiny new Jag
And challenged me then and there to a drag
I said, “You’re on, buddy, my mill’s runnin’ fine
Let’s come off the line now, at Sunset and Vine
But I’ll throw you one better if you’ve got the nerve
Let’s race all the way
To Dead Man’s Curve”

Dead Man’s Curve, it’s no place to play
Dead Man’s Curve, you best keep away
Dead Man’s Curve, I can hear ’em say
Won’t come back from Dead Man’s Curve

The street was deserted late Friday night
We were buggin’ each other while we sat out the light
We both popped the clutch when the light turned green
You should of heard the whine from my screamin’ machine
I flew past LaBrea, Schwab’s, and Crescent Heights
And all the Jag could see were my six tail lights
He passed me at Doheny then I started to swerve
But I pulled her out and there we were
At Dead Man’s Curve

Dead Man’s Curve, it’s no place to play
Dead Man’s Curve

Well, the last thing I remember, Doc, I started to swerve
And then I saw the Jag slide into the curve
I know I’ll never forget that horrible sight
I guess I found out for myself that everyone was right
Won’t come back from Dead Man’s Curve

Dead Man’s Curve, it’s no place to play
Dead Man’s Curve, you best keep away
Dead Man’s Curve, I can hear ’em say
Won’t come back from Dead Man’s Curve

Copyright by Screen Gems – Columbia

Copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne






Picture at top…Jan and Dean 1964




  1. A reason to Believe, While others were in Florida sunning head shops and others wre rich kids looking toearm about how to make money off ,as they bcalled ,Hippies,I was lucky enoughto be blessed with the talant to communicate and recognize and work with great artists.Artie Kornfeld

  2. Great lyric and terrific song! An even more amazing story behind the song. The article like the book “The Pied Piper of Woodstock” which I read and thoroughly enjoyed, gives such wonderful insight into the creative genius of one of Rock and Rolls biggest heros, Mr Artie Kornfeld.

  3. Clark Besch Says:

    Very cool story. Having been to Santa Monica and walked the beaches for the FIRST time ever at 53 this past january, it is great to hear such stories and actually be able to picture the scene to a small extent. Thanks Artie and Artie! Clark Besch

  4. Roger Christian Jr Says:

    Dear Gentleman
    Artie kouldfield is a complete and utter liar. My farther, Roger Christian, along with Brian Wilson and Jan Berry co-wrote the music and lyrics for “Dead Man Curve”. Artie had nothing to do with the song. He has egregiously distorted the facts to include himself to an event he was never involved with or a party to. I’m not refuting what he’s accomplishments in his life. But I’m absolutely clear of the facts here and that is….Artie did NOT co- write “Dead Man Curve” or nor was he even in the same time zone when it was written. As a child, I remember my father’s explanation of how the events occurred between himself, Brain and Jan. After my father’s radio show from 6pm until 12:00 o’clock midnight ended, he would meet up with Brain and Jan to collaborate all-night on many songs they all co-wrote together. Roger Christian was the MC to many special concerts and “Sock Hop’ in that exciting and innocent time in history of the Los Angeles music scene, and he inspired Brian to write the song “I get Around” which he was not credited for as writing as well as the song “Wendy” which he co-wrote with him.
    The song “Dead Man’s Curve is about a race they had down Sunset Boulevard ending on PCH at the beach. My father, Brian and Jan wrote the music at either Musso and Franks or the Brown Derby restaurant on the back of a napkin. When they left the restaurant and raced over to their destination, they each thought the other had the napkin but no one did. Again they all raced back to the restaurant and successfully retrieved the napkin from the garbage. I called my mother Joann Christian about this shameful lies and she said that she had never heard of Artie Kouldfield back then and she knew everyone my father collaborated with throughout his life including “Gary Usher” on all the catalog of music for the classic Beach Party movies as well as some non speaking role appearances. I have the original copyright certificate from the Library of Congress and that only lists Brian Wilson, Jan Berry and Roger Christian as copyright claimants to the song.
    My father who since passed away in 1991, I was appointed the executor of his estate and I had to renew all his music into their second copyright term of renewal including songs he co-wrote like “Anaheim, Azusa and Cucamonga” “Ballad of Ole’ Betsy”, “Car Crazy Cutie”, “Cherry, Cherry Coupe”, “Don’t Worry Baby”, “In the Parking’ Lot”, “Little Deuce Coupe”, “No-Go Showboat”, “Shut Down” and “Spirit of America,” all with Brian Wilson. “, Ride The Wild Surf “ “New Girl In School “and other music with Jan Berry including “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena”, “Sidewalk Surfin”, “Drag City”, “Honolulu Lulu”, and “You Really Know How to Hurt a Guy” as well as over two hundred other songs that predominately consists of song lyric to cars. The song “X.K.E” was written with Terry Melcher as that was his all-time favorite car he mainly drove in the 1960s and use to race against Brian and Jan with. He also co-wrote the album and narrated “The Beatle Story documentary LP which was released by Capital Records in 1964. He even co-wrote music for the famous guitarist “Dick Dale”
    Along with being one of the most prolific songs writing lyricists of our time, he was also one of the most famous Rock & Roll DJ’s in the history of radio known as the original “Boss Jock” here in Los Angeles “Hot Dog Rog” with the most captivating voice for which he was well known for having. For more information on his outstanding accomplishments, Google on Wikipedia for songwriter “Roger Christian”
    Inclosing, Artie’s statement is a defamation of my father’s character and I’m absolutely offended that he would say “He doesn’t understand why my father is listed on the song “Dead Man Curve”. Artie credibility is damaged by his comments he has made and since two of the writers have passed away and Brain Wilson must now be comatose by his well-known and document drug abuse, Artie feel safe now he can exaggerate anything he wants to in regards to that period in history of “Rock & Roll. This man can’t even hold a handle to my father. Since this website is erroneously stating facts about my father without verifying the facts, I had to write this since my father is no longer with us. If you only knew anyone who knew him, they’d all say what a beautiful man he was. He Was A Honest, Soft Spoken, Kind, Gentle, Loving, and Giving Human Being. For all his accomplishments, he was so humbled and giving and down to earth kind of guy. Everyone who had the pleasure of meeting him said, he was so special and they were honored to have had the chance to have met him. He honestly would give you the shirt off his back, that’s what kind of man he was.
    I am going to discuss this matter with an attorney an pursue legal action against Artie Koulfield for reporting false and unsubstantiated claims against the real facts and history as to the actual copyright claimants of the song “Dead Man Curve”. I’m also very disappointed that this Website did not do their research and investigate the facts or at least, list a disclaimer statement at the bottom of the site that explains, “This is the only one person’s version of the accounts recalled back then”. Thank you Artie for opening your big mouth and subjecting yourself to a major law suit. No matter how many drugs you blew your brains out with back in the sixties and what you would like to be true, fantasy is just fantasy and reality is reality. And the reality is…………you’re an utter fraud! I feel sorry for you Artie Koulfield because you are obviously very jealous and need to feel a sense of importance in your upper years by attaching yourself to other writer’s legitimate accomplishments.
    Roger Christian Jr

    • Artie Kornfekld asked me to post his reply to your e-mail

      “Put it in neon signs,There is evena cut on their biggest selling album DRag City,800,000 that I just found out,althoughI was the sole writer,have recieved no mechanicals in 47 years.It all went to court and I testified on behalf of Donnie and Bert Shneider ,Columbia Cseen Gems Ceo.Those statementmade a manof peace angry.Face Book,contact Mark Moore the expert on Jan and Dean.Print away.That creep Roger christian was a PD on the take in my opinion.Brian Wilson did write about Him and I Wriing DMC alone with me writing all the lyrics..Brian laughed when I said stop and put in thefamous accident that Jan lived in real time.

      ,Love you artie

  5. Andrew Says:

    Sorry, but Artie’s recollection just isn’t accurate.

    1 – although The Beach Boys did record a commercial for Honda, “Little Honda”
    wasn’t it. The song was recorded April 10th, 1964, released September 21st.

    2 – Brian & Marilyn weren’t even married by summer (December 7th was the date).

    3 – her parents house is about ten miles from Santa Monica, not three.

    4 – summer 1964 Brian didn’t weigh anywhere near 200 lbs.

    5 – the album version (the one Brian’s on – he had nothing to do with the
    re-recorded single version) was recorded November 11th 1963, released January
    6th 1964, so according to Kornfeld’s story, he, Brian & Jan Berry managed to
    write and record it some months after it was released. His accounts are just not
    true! Roger Christian was one of the co-writer on to the song. There is
    questions if Artie had anything to do with the song altogether. Back then, some
    people like Artie just got lucky and were given credit on songs for just hanging around
    with the authors.
    – Andrew, London, United Kingdom

    • Artie Kornfeld asked me to post his reply to your e-mail.,..

      “mark moore who wrote the Jan Berry Book and is envolved in thenewfrelease of Jans music knows the fact Hoda,Hondells,small forgetting of insignificant mistake in memory.It is tough when you reach icon,not music but HistoryMaker.


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