Berlin, set to play Atlanta with original trio, still wants to take your breath away

Terri Nunn, lead singer of Berlin, performed in Atlanta in 2019 when the reunited band opened for The B-52s. Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Terri Nunn, lead singer of Berlin, performed in Atlanta in 2019 when the reunited band opened for The B-52s. Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Reunion tours of ’80s bands are more popular than ever, though the bills often include groups with only one key member left. For nearly 20 years, that was the case with Berlin — but no more.

The official, expanded edition of Berlin will join fellow ’80s icons Boy George & Culture Club and Howard Jones in the “Letting It Go Show” tour hitting 25 U.S. cities over the next month, including Atlanta on Tuesday.

Berlin’s original lineup includes singer Terri Nunn who first joined the new wave band in the late 1970s. To dedicate herself to Berlin, Nunn abandoned a burgeoning acting career in Los Angeles that included appearances in television (“T.J. Hooker” and almost the role of Lucy Ewing in “Dallas”) and movies (“Thank God It’s Friday”), including a now-legendary audition for the role of Princess Leia in some obscure science-fiction film.

By 1982, Berlin had signed a major label contract and enjoyed substantial MTV, college radio and dance club play, initially due to the band’s definitive second album, “Pleasure Victim.”

The band’s hit singles eventually included “The Metro,” “Sex (I’m A…),” “No More Words” and the massively popular “Take My Breath Away” in 1986 on the “Top Gun” soundtrack.

Berlin rode an impressive arc of commercial and artistic successes. But the song for “Top Gun” marked its peak, and the band dissolved over the late ’80s.

A decade later, Nunn reclaimed the band name and began to tour and record with several revamped lineups. Finally, in the mid-2010s while commiserating over a series of personal setbacks, three of the original core members — Nunn, guitarist-songwriter John Crawford and keyboardist David Diamond — began working on new material and occasional live collaborations.

“Transcendance,” their first album together since the mid-1980s, was released in 2019. Since then, Berlin has released another album and is working on a third.

The vivacious Nunn spoke to AJC by phone from her home in Southern California, as she prepared for the extensive summer tour that starts this week.

Q: How does it feel to be back on the road with John and David?

A: It feels great and it all happened by chance, really. John was going through a divorce and contacted me. David had a breakup with his partner at almost the same time. We all just kind of commiserated because I’d been through a divorce, too. So in the process of reconnecting through crisis, we started getting creative. Again.

Berlin's current lineup features singer Terri Nunn and (back row, from left) Dave Schulz, Ric Roccapriore, Dave Diamond, Carlton Bost and John Crawford. Photo: Louis Rodiger

Credit: Louis Rodiger

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Credit: Louis Rodiger

Q: Obviously, you know what it’s like to return to a creative partnership. Berlin originally attempted to reunite via the “Bands Reunited” show back in 2004.

A: Yeah, but it’s all way better now. I don’t sweat the small stuff like I used to. When we started, we were just scared kids. We had to do music that we, the audience, and the record company would like. That’s a lot of pressure for a young band.

Now there’s more relaxation about the process. I’m much more tolerant of myself. After having kids and living through so many twists and turns of the music world, it makes this so much sweeter. All three of us are that way now. We’ve gotten much more tolerant and compassionate so that makes everything better.

Q: They say wisdom comes with age.

A: Yeah — and I love it! I love pretty much everything about aging except that I don’t like the feeling that time is speeding up. But I like my life now, more than I did even four years ago. I got some advice and it really worked: “Stop and just sit down.” It’s like, enjoy your coffee, enjoy the moment, enjoy whatever it is you’re doing. It actually slows time down.

Q: In the music industry, time marches on. Yet, as tastes have changed, the popularity of the music and fashion of the ’80s has somehow endured.

A: It has. I grew up mad that my brother had the ’60s. To me, the early-to-mid-’70s period just didn’t have the same excitement. Of course, now I appreciate the ’70s, but I grew up wanting to be Paul McCartney because there just weren’t that many women who did it like he did.

I wanted to do it all! I didn’t want to just be pretty and play a guitar. I wanted to strut around the stage and sing about real stuff. I wanted to be sexy — and I wanted to be loud. I wanted to be what all the guys were allowed to be.

Berlin's Terri Nunn and John Crawford onstage in Atlanta in 2019 when the band opened for The B-52s. Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/Atlanta Journal Constitution

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Q: Stylistically, you took a much different route for an act from California. The whole New Romantic, synth-pop and experimental electronic wave was still considered very European and decidedly noncommercial at the time.

A: Yeah, it was all power pop here. We were trying to do our thing and it didn’t fit in to what was popular, but we still kept working at it, got better at it — and it finally started to happen.

Q: Berlin certainly has longevity. In 1997, you reignited the band yourself, 10 years after walking away from it.

A: That was hard. When I was heading it and the buck stopped with me, I remember being freaked out a lot. I had to lay down every day for 20 minutes just to calm down. I was trying to learn everything about the business that I didn’t have to know before. It was mine now, and everything was really intense.

Q: But even with the pressure, is singing more satisfying than acting? Do you ever regret leaving that career?

A: I left acting because I wanted to give music everything I had. By turning down “Dallas, I knew I could because I lost everything else when I turned it down. I lost my agent, my manager. They were all like, “Are you crazy? If you don’t want this, then we don’t want you.”

I was completely alone after that decision, and it gave me the freedom to try music. That led me to meet John Crawford, and you know how it all turned out from there. The freedom of losing everything meant having nothing left to lose. Sometimes you’ve just got to let things go in order to survive.

Q: Your attitude certainly reflects the tour name. Who coined the “Letting It Go Show” concept?

A: Well, that was probably Boy George. Culture Club is headlining, and it basically means “tonight, just let all that ... go. Whatever it is, let it go. Let’s have some fun, enjoy ourselves and enjoy each other.” I think that’s the plan for the whole tour.


“Letting It Go Show”

7 p.m. Tuesday, July 18. Tickets start at $32. Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park, 4469 Stella Drive, Atlanta. 404-233-2227,