She could have even been an actress. She appeared in a McDonald’s commercial for a new milkshake at just age 14, been on shows like “Police Story,” “T..J. Hooker” and “Lou Grant.” and even in a movie. She auditioned for the role of Princess Leia in the first Star Wars movie which she didn’t get and as Lucy for the hit television show “Dallas” that she did get, only to turn it down, much to Charlene Tilton’s good fortune.
Yet all along Terri Nunn knew she wanted to be a singer. The correct career choice it turns out, for Nunn has rocketed to fame as the vocalist for the band Berlin, which returns to The Cave Big Bear November 25. Moreover Terri has become a music heavyweight, compared to other top ladies of rock like Grace Slick, Anne Wilson and Stevie Nicks.
She came in at #11 on VH1’s list of the “100 Greatest Women in Rock” and while Berlin has had many hits, one—“Take My Breath Away”—is practically an anthem. The 1986 #1 hit was the love song in the movie “Top Gun” and won both the Academy and Golden Globe Awards for Best Original Song, so while Terri didn’t appear in the film, at least her voice did.
All pretty heady stuff, even for a sensual singer who exudes confidence and poise on stage. “Those singers (Slick, Wilson, Nicks and others) always seemed like goddesses to me, and I just couldn’t consider myself like that,” Nunn said in a recent phone interview. “I have more confidence in myself now. At some point I started to consider myself a great singer but it took 25 years to get here.”
The process started when Nunn returned to the band in 1980 after flirting with her acting career, a decision cemented when she turned down the “Dallas” part. “I lost my agent and manager,” she said after both quit her team. “They were like `Why are we working for you?’ ”
Yet Nunn knew what she was doing. Early songs like “The Metro,” still a favorite, and the provocative “Sex (I’m A)” earned the band early notoriety. “No More Words” was about to become Berlin’s first Top 10 hit when producer Giorgio Moroder started looking to record a song he had co-written, “Take My Breath Away.”
“He tried at least three other singers,” Nunn said. “When he asked me I thought I didn’t have a chance in hell so I said yes. When I first heard it I thought it sounded like a Japanese commercial, it didn’t sound romantic to me. So I sang it elongated and sensual doing it the way I wanted.
“It was a life-changing moment and continues to be,” she said. “It opened the world to us. It was used in “Despicable Me 3” and just keeps gifting me.” The song was also covered by Jessica Simpson.
Berlin is known for cutting edge music and Terri’s magnificent voice helped define it. Long before there was Electronic Dance Music (EDM), there was Berlin with a sound that some called new wave, others synchro-pop. EDM might be the club rage today, but Berlin was playing it 30 years ago—with one big difference.
“We liked guitar,” Nunn said.
It’s a sound that has endured. The 2013 release “Animal” was well received, still the same electro-guitar sound for high energy dancing augmented by Terri’s voice, provocative, suggestive and spirited.
In fact Berlin’s original lineup including John Crawford who writes the songs and David Diamond have reunited in the studio to record a new album with Nunn, who has been recording and touring with her road band all along. Almost like old times, except we all know you can’t go home again.
“I’m glad you can’t,” Nunn said. “It’s different now than decades ago. We don’t have to prove ourselves, egos aren’t in play. We’re more compassionate. It’s easier to work and I’m having more fun with it.”
Like so many bands from that era Berlin dissolved in 1987, but reuniting 30 years later sets it apart. The new album is about half-done with early 2018 release date, followed by a tour that includes the United Kingdom. “The music sounds like Berlin 2017,” Nunn said. “It’s very electro, but current electro.
“The live experience is why I do this,” she said. “Opposite of (Crawford), he likes writing songs and being in the studio. For me it’s the live shows. I get high on experiencing the music and being together.”
Her presence on stage—and Berlin does anywhere from 50-75 shows a year—reflects that. She’ll kick off her shoes, sit on the edge of the stage, even venture out onto the dance floor. All while her commanding voice resonates through the audience. When she sings “Take My Breath Away” listeners are left in awe; visit our Facebook page to see for yourself!.