Words by Shelton Hull
Fun fact: Terri Nunn, lead singer of the band Berlin, was one of numerous notable women who auditioned for the role of Princess Leia. Others include Kim Basinger, Glenn Close, Geena Davis, Farrah Fawcett, Anjelica Huston, Jessica Lange, Cybill Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Kathleen Turner, Sigourney Weaver and Cindy Williams (from “Laverne & Shirley”). The life she built instead has turned out quite well, though.
Berlin has had a long, successful career since its founding in 1978, but they cemented their place in music and film history with their 1986 hit “Take My Breath Away,” a stunning Giorgio Moroder collab you will surely recall from the “Top Gun” soundtrack. The band sprang forth from Orange County, California in 1976, and Terri Nunn joined them in ‘79. She appears on their second album, “Pleasure Victim,” quite literally: Her image on the record sleeve definitely stood out in record store display cases of the era. Their most recent album, their ninth, was Strings Attached (Valley Day Recordings, 2020)
Berlin will be here as part of a lineup headlined by Boy George & Culture Club, a group that needs no introduction. “We just did a few shows with Culture Club, around this area, and they went so well that when they called, we were like, ‘absolutely.’” They are joined by veteran British singer Howard Jones, who notched nearly a dozen Top 40 hits in the ‘80s and whose 15th studio album, “Dialogue,” was released just last year. “I’ve worked with Howard Jones a couple of years ago. He’s a great songwriter and artist, but also just a really great guy, so we were happy when he was added to the tour.”
“I have a lot of friends in Florida,” she says via Zoom from her home in Santa Rosa Valley, an hour north of Los Angeles. “It’s a very laid-back, relaxed feel that I really enjoy. We’re starting the tour there, the first three shows.” They’re doing amphitheaters in Tampa, West Palm Beach and Jacksonville before making their way north into Canada, then back westward and wrapping things in Australia in September. “I love amphitheaters. I love that experience. I love being outside. And then we’re doing arenas!”
The touring life is a hell of a grind, on all levels, and Berlin has done it at all levels. For this tour, they’re running a caravan of buses across the country, which is a vast improvement on the treks the band endured while making their bones on the global scene.
“I remember one [flight], it was like, from Australia to Italy, and there was just no way to do any kind of non-stop for that one, and it was literally like 27 hours,” she says. “We didn’t have first-class seats, we didn’t have flat seats back then, so you’re just messed up after all that time.”
Whether on the road or not, Nunn generally sticks to a consistent schedule, which helps with compartmentalizing the litany of tasks required to keep the machine moving on a daily basis. “In the morning, I will usually do all the accounting, making sure that everybody’s paid, and all the books look right, and we have all of the paperwork for the IRS and that stuff because that’s the business end that has to be done. Then I’ll do some reading and have lunch. Early afternoon, we do soundcheck, hair and makeup, and then the show.”
What some might call “nostalgia tours” are really serious work being put in by artists who still have a lot in the tank, even now, five decades in the game. Nunn is savoring every moment, taking nothing for granted. “These are once in a lifetime shows, for me as well. The last ones were with the B-52’s and Berlin and OMD.”
The post-pandemic market for live music grows by the week, nationwide, so bands like Berlin and their colleagues are doing tons of business, a lot of which is in advance sales, and the perks can be pretty sweet, too. “They’re big venues, so they have catering, and you really get used to that! You roll out of the bus and you get like 30 things out of a line of all kinds of options for lunch, then they clear that out and you have dinner, we get really used to that. Then we have to go home and make our own dinner, and that sucks!”
Boy George & Culture Club with special guests Berlin and Howard Jones bring the ‘80s back on July 16 at Daily’s Place. For more information and tickets, visit dailysplace.com.
Click here to watch the full interview with Terri Nunn.