Biography of Berlin
The earliest genesis of Berlin was the band The Toys, formed in 1978 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 stint with Toni Childs as 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. They were 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 Macolino. The band released the 1980 album Information, with Macolino 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» (from the movie Top Gun) became their best-selling single in 1986 and a huge international hit, but also their last big hit.
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