Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme)

Portuguese-born American guitarist, singer-songwriter, and record producer Nuno Duarte Gil Mendes Bettencourt was born September 20, 1966 in Praia da Vitória, Terceira, Azores, Portugal. When he was four years old, his family, including brothers Luís and Roberto, moved to Hudson, Massachusetts. Bettencourt lived on Main Street in Hudson for twenty-one years. Initially, Bettencourt had little interest in music, preferring to spend his time playing hockey and soccer. His first instrument was the drums and he played them exclusively until his brother, Luís, started teaching him the guitar.

While Bettencourt was slow to adopt the instrument under his brother’s tutelage, his skills quickly developed when he began teaching himself, In his sophomore and junior years of high school, Bettencourt dropped out of sports and High School to focus on playing guitar.  Bettencourt’s musical influences include Eddie Van Halen.  The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Prince, Queen, Pat Travers, Paco de Lucía, Al Di Meola and Kayak. Bettencourt rose to international prominence as a guitar player after he joined Extreme in 1985. the band released its debut record, Extreme, in 1989. He then provided rhythm guitar on the single version of Janet Jackson’s “Black Cat,”

In 1990, Extreme released their most critically acclaimed album, Pornograffitti, which included the hits “More Than Words” and “Hole Hearted”. The album also has one of the most impressive guitar solos to date, The “Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee” an interpretation of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee”, which is the intro guitar solo to the Track “He-Man Woman Hater”. The band followed up with III Sides to Every Story in 1992. Bettencourt composed and arranged the brass and string sections for this album and the full orchestra on the album. In 1995, Extreme released the album, Waiting for the Punchline, but the band broke up in 1996 when Bettencourt expressed his desire to follow a solo career. Shortly after, singer Gary Cherone went on to become the lead singer of Van Halen.

In 2007, the band reformed with the original line up (with the exception of Paul Geary) to begin work on a new album, Saudades de Rock, released on August 12, 2008, and subsequent tour. In 1997, Bettencourt released his first solo effort, Schizophonic, which he had been working on for five years. The album was well-received critically, but was not a commercial success. On December 16, 1997, Bettencourt’s new band – Mourning Widows (whose name was inspired by a writing he had seen on a church wall back in Portugal), released their self-titled debut album in Japan on Polydor Records. It sold 45,000 in the first month. The band featured Roberto Carlos’ son Donovan Bettencourt on bass and New York drummer Jeff Consi. In 2000, Mourning Widow’s follow-up, Furnished Souls for Rent originally released in Japan, and then in the U.S.

2008, Bettencourt was featured on the soundtrack for the motion picture Smart People. Bettencourt is credited on the cover on the soundtrack as well. The soundtrack also features the Gary Cherone track, “Need I Say More”, and Baby Animals selections. The album was released by Hollywood Records and is available on iTunes. The following year, Bettencourt was featured in a song and video called “Best Night Ever”. by Marshall Eriksen, a character on How I Met Your Mother The video was a parody of Extreme’s “More Than Words” video, featuring the entire main cast of How I Met Your Mother.

Bettencourt formed Population 1 and released Population 1, (which featured him playing all instruments on most tracks), Bettencourt assembled a band with Joe Pessia on bass, Steve Ferlazzo on keyboards and back-up vocals, and Kevin Figueiredo on drums and back-up vocals. Steve Ferlazzo was also featured in Cherone’s next band carnation effort after Van Halen’s breakup (Along with Pat Badger and Mike Mangini from Extreme) Tribe of Judah.In 2004, Population 1 released Sessions from Room Four in 2005 and the band was renamed to Near Death Experience, then again, renamed to DramaGods. DramaGods released their first album in December 2005. DramaGods are currently seeking a record deal for release of their first album under the new name in the U.S. After an explosive debut on the increasingly popular The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, the band (still called ‘Population 1′ at that point), later appeared on the social networking website MySpace, featuring videos and songs from the aforementioned Dramagods album, entitled Love. Bettencourt decided to make the album available through iTunes before procuring an American record deal. Bettencourt frequently toured with DramaGods in Japan where they appeared at the Udo Music Festival along with KISS, Santana, Jeff Beck, The Doobie Brothers, Alice in Chains, The Pretenders, Ben Folds Five, and others in July 2006 shortly after Bettencourt took part in a three date reunion tour with Extreme in New England.

Bettencourt’s playing has been featured at 2004 on the Universal/Japan CD and DVD release of Guitar Wars featuring solo and collective performances of Bettencourt with many others, including Steve Hackett (Genesis, GTR), Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and Mr. Big/Racer X guitarist Paul Gilbert. The Satellite Party is Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell’s new project which featured Bettencourt as lead guitarist (Nuno left the band in July 2007, citing disagreements about the direction of the live show), along with DramaGods drummer Kevin Figueiredo, bassist Carl Restivo (who also played with Extreme in the Azores in 2004), and Etty Farrell on backing vocals. An earlier lineup of the band with Perry Farrell, Etty Farrell, Nuno, Kevin Figueiredo, and Steve Ferlazo (Dramagods) on keyboards performed at the 2005 Lollapalooza festival. In 2007 Bettencourt helped produce Ultra Payloaded, the debut album by Satellite Party Who performed alongside Pearl Jam, Kings of Leon and Incubus in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. In late July 2007. The latest CD from magician Criss Angel contains a song on which Bettencourt appears and was released in June 2006. Sully Erna, Vince Neil, Shannon Larkin and Bettencourt join Angel in the video for the track “MF 2”. In 1990, Bettencourt played rhythm guitar on the single version of Janet Jackson’s “Black Cat”.In 1993, Bettencourt co-wrote and produced “Where Are You Going” for the Super Mario Bros. movie. He also joined Robert Palmer in the studio to record Palmer’s album Honey. Bettencourt co-wrote Tantric’s hit single “Hey Now”), Hollywood recording group BB Mak, Toni Braxton, and numerous others.Bettencourt has also collaborated with singer Suze DeMarchi and with all of her Baby Animals bandmates. On Baby Animals’ second release, Shaved and Dangerous. He also co-wrote “Because I Can”. Baby Animals also appeared on Bettencourt’s 1997 solo album Schizophonic. In 1991, Bettencourt produced Dweezil Zappa’s album Confessions.

Bettencourt also sings lead vocals for the first time on a semi-ballad entitled “The Kiss”, and plays guitar and sings background vocal on other tracks alongside Extreme members Gary Cherone and Pat Badger. In 1999, Bettencourt produced and contributed vocals for Portuguese singer and actress Lúcia Moniz’ album Magnolia. In 2006, Bettencourt along with his band DramaGods contributed their song “S’OK” to the album project Artists for Charity – Guitarists 4 the Kids, for World Vision Canada, an organisation which helps underprivileged kids in need.In November 2009, Bettencourt toured with Rihanna on her Last Girl on Earth Tour as lead guitarist and has since performed on her Loud (2010), 777 (2012) and Diamonds World (2013) tours, respectively. In July 2011, Steel Panther and Nuno collaborated on the track “It Won’t Suck Itself”, which also featured Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger and during 2016 Bettencourt was also one of five guitarists featured on the Generation Axe tour.

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