Nuno Bettencourt is a Portuguese guitarist and vocalist, member of the band Extreme, who became famous for his extremely technical solos, his way of playing being greatly influenced by Eddie Van Halen.
Nuno Bettencourt was born in Praia da Vitória, Terceira, Azores, Portugal, on September 20, 1966. He moved with his family to Hudson, Massachusetts at the age of 4.
In the US he didn’t have much interest in music. He preferred sports, especially hockey and football. The first instrument he played was the drums, until his brother, Luís Gil Bettencourt, started teaching him to play the guitar, but he learned mainly as a self-taught.
In 1985 Bettencourt joined the band Extreme. On August 5, 1987, they played a concert in Boston attended by executives from major record companies, and in November, they signed with A&M Records.
Around March 1988, Extreme made their first big appearance to the public, opening a concert by Aerosmith (also a band from Boston).
In 1989 they released the album ‘Extreme’, which was not very successful.
After touring North America and Japan, Extreme released the album, ‘Pornograffitti’, in 1990, which definitely put them in the hall of fame. The band’s sound began to change; at times it still sounded like “Funk Metal”, but rock and hard rock had a strong presence in ‘Pornograffitti’.
Still in (1990) he participated in the album “Putting Back The Rock”, by Jim Gilmore.
They entered their second US tour, while the ballads “More Than Words” (Extreme’s biggest hit) and “Hole Hearted” did not leave the radio. In December 1990, Washburn Guitars launches a series of guitars, N4 – Nuno Bettencourt Signature Series, with the signature of Nuno Bettencourt.
The single “More Than Words” reached number one in several countries, including: United States, Netherlands, Portugal and Israel. During the tour they played in several festivals and with several famous groups and singers, among them ex-Van Halen David Lee Roth. Nuno was invited to play at “Guitar Legends”, in Seville, Spain. He played alongside Brian May, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, among others. The ‘Pornograffitti’ tour ended in Honolulu on December 15, 1991.
In 1991 he participated in “Confessions” by Dweezil Zappa. Nuno sings in a semi-ballad entitled “O Beijo”.
In January 1992, Extreme played one of the biggest concerts in its history, for around 60,000 people, at Hollywood Rock, in Rio de Janeiro. The phenomenon Nuno Bettencourt did not stop winning awards. He was awarded in all the categories he was nominated for in the “Guitar For The Practicing Musician readers’ poll” and even won the awards: “Top Of The Rock”, “Songwriter of the Year”, “Solo of the Year” (for solo guitar he made, called “Flight of the Wounded Bumblebee”) and also “Guitar LP of the Year”.
Extreme was nominated for eight categories at the Boston Music Awards and won five of them: “Act of the Year”, “Outstanding Rock Single” (for “Hole Hearted”), “Outstanding Pop Single” (for “More Than Words”), “Outstanding Song/Songwriter” (Nuno and Gary for “More Than Words”) and “Outstanding Instrumentalist” (Nuno Bettencourt). On April 20th, they played “More Than Words” and an acoustic version of “Love of My Life” (by Queen) at the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert, for more than 70,000 people, at Wembley Stadium.
Nuno participates in the theme “Maubere” by Rui Veloso in favor of the Timorese cause.
In September 1992, Extreme’s third album, ‘III Sides To Every Story’, was released. Nuno won the “Guitarist of the Year” award from Metal Edge Magazine. The band’s European tour ended on December 23, 1992 at Wembley Stadium, where they were watched and applauded by Brian May, Roger Daltrey, among other stars. More awards followed for Extreme. Nuno won “MVP” in the Guitar World readers’ poll, leaving behind Joe Satriani, Eddie Van Halen, Slash and Eric Clapton. He also won “Best Rock Guitar”, also “Best Rock Guitar Album” (for the album “III Sides”) and “Best Solo” (for the guitar solo of Rest In Peace).
In 1993, Bettencourt co-wrote and produced Where Are You Going for the Super Mario Bros.
In 1994, Bettencourt married singer Suze DeMarchi. He was also featured on Robert Palmer’s “Honey” album.
1995 was the year of the band’s fourth album, ‘Waiting For The Punchline’. Another successful album, with several hits, including: “Hip Today”, “Unconditionally” and “Cynical”. Extreme’s first and only instrumental song appeared on this album. A sensational guitar song called Midnight Express.
In 1996 he left the band to start a solo career. Nuno Bettencourt released his CD ‘Schizophonic’ which surprised all fans who expected a Steve Vai or Eddie Van Halen style CD. Schizophonic took five years to complete.
On December 16, 1997, Bettencourt forms the band Mourning Widows (the name was inspired by a writing he had seen on the wall of a church in Portugal) which released in Japan, through Polydor, a self-titled album. the record sold 45,000 in its first month. The band’s second album, “Furnished Souls for Rent” was originally released in Japan in 2000.
In 1999 he recorded “Try Again” with singer Lúcia Moniz and recorded “Every Diamond” for the tribute album to Rui Veloso.
He formed the band Population 1, which released an album in 2002. Due to legal issues, the name had to be changed, finally moving to DramaGods. DramaGods released their debut album in December 2005.
DramaGods 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.
A CD by magician Criss Angel, Mindfreak, contains a song featuring Bettencourt and was released in June 2006.
Nuno played with Perry Farrell’s The Satellite Party until July 2007. Bettencourt helped produce “Ultra Payloaded”, the group’s debut album released May 29, 2007 on Columbia Records.
The Hard Rock band Extreme returned in 2008 with the album “Saudades de Rock”, the band’s first studio release in 13 years.
In 2008, Bettencourt was featured on the soundtrack for the movie “Smart People”. He is credited on the cover of the soundtrack which includes the track “Need I say more” featuring Gary Cherone (of Extreme) and selections “Baby Animals”.
In 2009 he collaborated on “The Best Night Ever” by Marshall, a character from “How I Met Your Mother”. The video was a parody of the “More Than Words” video.
Currently, Nuno participates as guitarist for superstar Rihanna, where he toured with her on the “Last Girl on Earth Tour” (2010), on the “Loud Tour” (2011) and recently on the “Diamonds World Tour” (2013) and continues with the band Extreme and at halftime of the mega sporting event Super Bowl in 2023.
In 4 presentations – Curitiba (12/6), São Paulo (13/6), Rio de Janeiro (14/6) and Porto Alegre (15/6) – Nuno and his Extreme companions were in Brazil with the Pornograffitti tour, whose concerts presented the album of the same name in full.
Active and with his musical excellence intact, he prepares for 2023 to release a new album with Extreme. In addition to solo works with Jullian Lennon, Russ Hewitt.
As a guitarist and songwriter, Bettencourt manages to draw from a variety of styles and influences. His most important works were in the field of rock and heavy metal but his greatest successes were acoustic songs. Bettencourt is considered as a technical guitarist and is influenced by many different guitarists like Eddie Van Halen, Al Di Meola or Jimmy Page. They also consider that his solos are influenced by Brian May of Queen.
In the 1990 videoclip for “More Than Words”, the Portuguese national flag appears on the stage above some speakers, placed by Nuno Bettencourt in honor of his country of origin.