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Berlin is an American new wave band formed in Los Angeles in 1978. The band gained commercial success in the 1980s with singles including "Sex (I'm A...)", "The Metro", "No More Words" and the chart-topping "Take My Breath Away" from the 1986 film Top Gun. The best-known lineup consisted of singer Terri Nunn, bass guitarist and vocalist John Crawford, keyboardist David Diamond, guitarist Ric Olsen, keyboardist Matt Reid, and drummer Rod Learned.
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Associated acts||The Big F|
The genesis of Berlin was the new wave rock band the Toys, formed in 1976 in Orange County, California, by John Crawford (bass guitar), Dan Van Patten (drums), Chris Ruiz-Velasco (guitar), and Ty Cobb (vocals). After a few shows, the band changed its name to Berlin, discharging Cobb as lead singer in the process. After a brief time where Toni Childs was lead singer, Terri Nunn joined the band after answering an ad through the Musicians Contact Service in Hollywood in 1979. Despite its name, Berlin did not have any known major connections with the capital of Germany; the name was chosen to make them seem European and exotic. As lead singer, Nunn would eventually take the Berlin name as her alternate moniker. The band was inspired by the keyboard work of Kraftwerk, Devo, Sparks and The Screamers.
The band's first single, "A Matter of Time," was released in 1979 on Renegade Records and they appeared on television for the first time on the short-lived "Hollywood Heartbeat" hosted by former Fleetwood Mac guitarist, Bob Welch. Nunn left the group later that year to pursue an acting career forcing the band to replace her with Virginia Maccolino. The band released the 1980 album Information, with Maccolino as lead vocalist, but the band struggled signing with a mainstream label without Nunn. As band manager, Perry Watts-Russell explained, "Unfortunately, the record labels that had shown interest in December 1979, when Terri was the singer, were no longer keen to sign the band. So, by later that year, Berlin had effectively broken up, and John had formed and was the lead singer in another group, Fahrenheit, with Dan Van Patten. But he had some songs that he thought were better suited to Terri's voice and he asked me if I thought she might be interested in singing them. We asked and she was."
Terri Nunn rejoined the band as singer in 1980, and they signed to independent label Enigma Records on which they released a double A-sided single, "Tell Me Why" / "The Metro". The single was intended as a one-off, since Crawford was by then focusing on his new band Fahrenheit and regarded Berlin as a "just for fun" side project. However, the single was a success, helping to finance the EP album, Pleasure Victim, which was recorded on a $2,900 budget. The EP included their first significant hit: the controversial synth-driven "Sex (I'm A...)" (1982), which was banned by some radio stations due to its graphic lyrics. The song was intentionally written and composed to get airplay on Los Angeles radio station KROQ, which specialized in playing music that was not heard on other stations, and of which members of the group were fans. Due to the attention brought on by the single, wider release offers were made by larger record labels for Pleasure Victim. Geffen Records' offer was accepted and the label re-released Pleasure Victim worldwide in early 1983. The label also re-released "The Metro", which then became another hit. The band appeared at the 1983 US Festival.
In 1984, the band released their next album, Love Life, and the single "No More Words," whose subsequent video saw Terri Nunn and bandmates re-enact a Bonnie and Clyde-style car chase and shoot-out, became their first top-20 hit. "Take My Breath Away" (for the movie Top Gun soundtrack), co-written and produced by Giorgio Moroder, became their best-selling single in 1986 and a huge international hit, but also their last big hit.
Aside from Nunn, members of the band were founding member John Crawford (primary songwriter, bass guitar and synthesizer), and David Diamond (synthesizer & guitar). Ric Olsen (lead guitar) was brought in during the final recording of Pleasure Victim. Other members added were Matt Reid (synthesizer), Rob Brill (drums: 1983–1987) and Rod Learned (drums: 1979–1983). Berlin's breakout EP, 1982's Pleasure Victim, featured Nunn, Crawford, and Diamond, as well as guitarist Olsen, drummer, synthesist and producer Dan Van Patten and guitarist Chris Ruiz-Velasco. (These last two were founding members, along with Crawford and original male vocalist Tyson Cobb.) Before Pleasure Victim was completed, Van Patten and Ruiz-Velasco parted ways with Nunn, Crawford, and Diamond. Ric Olsen was brought in to complete tracks on Pleasure Victim.
Dissolution and re-formationEdit
Berlin officially disbanded in 1987, partly due to the lack of success of their album Count Three & Pray and because of personal disagreements over the single "Take My Breath Away." Nunn viewed it as a fresh new song that allowed the band to perform globally, while others disliked it as it had not been written or composed by any of them. Later, after the release of the 1991 solo album Moment of Truth, Nunn retained the legal rights to usage of the band's name after legal wranglings with the founding member of the group, John Crawford. Nunn recreated Berlin, with a new lineup of musicians, in 1997. In 1999, Berlin opened for The Go-Go's on their West Coast reunion tour.
In 2000–2001, Berlin contributed to several artist tribute albums. The only track to make it on to a full Berlin release is a cover of Marilyn Manson's "The Dope Show," which is included on Berlin's 4play album as well as the Marilyn Manson tribute album Anonymous Messiah (2001, Vitamin Records). Other tributes include material by Madonna, Blondie and Depeche Mode.
Berlin was featured on the VH1 show, Bands Reunited where the roughly pre-Love Life era lineup of the band (John Crawford, Terri Nunn, David Diamond, Ric Olsen, Matt Reid and Rod Learned) agreed to reunite as a band and as friends. They played one show at The Roxy in California to a sold-out crowd.
The band, featuring Nunn supported by other members who were not part of the classic line-up, toured with rock band INXS during the summer of 2011. Gerald Casale of Devo created a video for Berlin which was scheduled to debut at a late November 2011 performance. Nunn herself was scheduled both to debut a radio show on KCSN-FM, and to record a new album, in 2012.
In July 2013, it was announced that a new album called Animal would be released on September 17, from which a single "It's The Way" would also be issued.
In an August 9, 2016, interview with The Washington Times, Nunn announced the original members (Crawford, Nunn and Diamond) had been writing new material, and planning a tour and new album for 2017.
On the 80s Cruise 2018, Ric Olsen, David Diamond and John Crawford performed with the Nunn-fronted version of Berlin. Rather than replacing any of the existing members, Diamond and Crawford are merging with Nunn's current Berlin incarnation to form a six-person line-up. They performed two new songs from their forthcoming album. They jokingly announced the album's title would be Woke, a suggestion from VJ Mark Goodman during a Q & A session on the cruise, and that the album would be released in July 2018. Although an official name has not been determined, the new album was scheduled for release later that year.
In May 2019, Terri Nunn announced that she and co-founders John Crawford and David Diamond would be reuniting for a new album, Transcendance, to be released on August 2, 2019.
On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Berlin among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire. The accuracy of this report was disputed by Vinny Vero, a music producer who works for the reissue label Cherry Red. Vero observed that Berlin's album masters were “safe and sound” while working on reissues of another Geffen recording artist. Later the same year, Universal located two session reels containing 11 unique or early versions of songs recorded in 1983 between Pleasure Victim and Love Life, as well as an unreleased outtake from Love Life.
On August 2, 2019, Berlin featuring Terri Nunn released their eighth album, Transcendance.
On November 27, 2020, Berlin released their ninth album, Strings Attached, which includes re-recordings of previous songs backed by a full orchestra.
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