From big hair and neon to dark eyeliner and cult classics, the 1980s is one of the most iconic, defining decades of music history. On the precipice of it all, in 1978, drummer Dan Van Patten, guitarist Carlos Ruiz, and vocalist Tyson A. Cobb formed the new wave band, Berlin.
After a couple of rotations in the lead singer’s spot, the band finally found their iconic lead, Terri Nunn, in 1979.
The group created Berlin’s sound through taking inspiration from the band’s geographical namesake. Still known for its avant-garde approach to music and fashion, Germany’s capital helped define some of the most recognizable sounds in the United States music industry. The new wave, synth sound that bands like Berlin helped popularize is still paramount to the glam rock and goth subculture communities that exist in America today.
After Berlin released their first single “A Matter of Time” with Renegade Records, Nunn left the band to pursue an acting career. The group struggled without her and briefly disbanded. Still, Crawford wrote songs that he often felt would fit Nunn’s voice, and they rebuilt the band.
Truly A Matter Of Time
When Berlin reformed their band in 1980, they signed to Enigma Records. They released a double A-Side single, “Tell Me Why”/”The Metro”. Though they viewed Berlin as a fun side project, the success of the single allowed them to finance the EP, Pleasure Victim.
Pleasure Victim launched them back into the spotlight, though an extremely controversial one. Their first major hit, “Sex (I’m A…)” resulted in quite a few radio bans. However, they intentionally wrote the song for the Los Angeles-based radio station, KROQ, which specialized in playing unconventional, boundary-pushing music. This risk paid off, and the success of the single led the band to Geffen Records. There, they re-released Pleasure Victim, as well as “The Metro,” which became another major hit for the band.
Berlin Rising: Critical Acclaim
In 1984, Berlin released Love Life, which solidified not only their cult-classic standing, but their critical standing as well. Their single “No More Words” was their first top 40 hit. The music video featured Nunn and the band in a Bonnie and Clyde-inspired car chase and shoot out, which helped launch the single further onto the charts.
Love Life also featured the Golden Globe and Academy Award-Winning song, “Take My Breath Away” from the movie Top Gun. This song is still embedded in American pop culture and is one of the defining sounds of the 80s.
Berlin Falling: Creative Differences
Berlin continued to face hardships as the success of “Take My Breath Away” pulled them in many directions. While Nunn was grateful for the heights it took them to, the rest of the band worried that their most successful song was not representative of the band’s talents, as they had not written the song themselves. The underwhelming performance of their album Count Three & Pray was the final nail in the band’s coffin, and they dissolved the group.
Though the dissolution of Berlin was disheartening, it was not the end. After her solo effort in 1991, Nunn retained the rights to Berlin and recreated the band in 1997. She led the new band in their opening act for the Go-Gos on their West Coast reunion tour two years later.
Since then, Nunn and Berlin have seen steady successes. They’ve played on several tribute albums, reunited with old bandmates, and even released two new albums. Transcendence reunited Nunn with John Crawford and David Diamond, and they released the new body of work in 2019.
In 2020, Berlin released Strings Attached. Following the album’s release, Nunn found herself in a controversial position again after ringing in the new year at former President Trump’s Mar-A-Lago New Years Eve Party. The singer has expressed her regret, citing that her performance was not a political endorsement, and stated that she’d been misled about Florida’s pandemic safety measures.
Cult Classics Forever
While Berlin has had many ups and downs, Terri Nunn’s electrifying stage persona and the band’s beloved music keep the group alive. Nunn continues to tour and wow audiences, and Take My Breath Away sees repeated virality on social media. Though their flame flickers, the pull of this cult classic band will never die out.