Nuno Bettencourt Opens Up on Why He Really Left Extreme in the ’90s, Names Biggest Regret About the Band

According to Nuno Bettencourt, back in the 1990s, his band Extreme was just really deep into the album-tour cycle, so much so that the pressure ended up folding the band at the time. Speaking to Hear 2 Zen Magazine, was asked whether there’s any “advice 2023 Nuno would give 1985 Nuno.”

Although he admits he’d not want to mess with the fate, Bettencourt went into some details of the band’s early days and, ultimately, what went wrong for them in the 1990s. He said (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):

“I think I would never want to mess with fate because I’m very grateful and thankful for what we’ve done and what I’ve done. But I think one of the biggest regrets or mistakes I’ve made, being not mature enough to understand what I was feeling.”

Nuno Bettencourt Schizophonic Tour Live in Lisbon, Portugal 1998

As Nuno then adds, he blames those in charge of the business side of things. And, of course, that’s not a new thing. But this was pretty difficult to understand for a young group of musicians:

“And I kind of blame our managers a little bit, I blame the accountants, I blame that people who were making money off of us that didn’t want to see us take breaks and stop. We were just going and going and going — tour, album, tour, album is when I had left the band, which ended up with Gary going to Van Halen, and me doing some solo stuff.”

However, as Nuno adds, he doesn’t have any regrets about Cherone joining Van Halen or him doing his solo stuff. But he does think he was mature enough to deal with the band at the time:

“I don’t regret those two things, I thought it was great that he did that and that I did that. But I wasn’t mature enough, for my head wasn’t at the place where I could just take a break. I thought it was either all in or nothing.”

“And things got a little bit hairy with the band instead of just going, ‘You know what? We just need to take a break from each other.'”

And, as he also adds, the decade that they spent apart feels a bit disappointing to him:

“So those 10 years that we did nothing kind of disappoint me. I love all the things that I did musically during those times in different albums. But as far as Extreme, the mothership of it all, I don’t think that was handled very well by me.”

“And it could have been… We should be 13 albums in at this point. But life is what it is, and whatever it was meant to be is meant to be because it happened.”

Extreme wasn’t a turbulent band compared to many others of the era. However, they eventually went on a hiatus in 1996 after four albums. Apart form some minor reunions in the 2000s, they finally did a proper return in 2007 with Kevin Figueiredo on drums, replacing the spot once taken by Paul Geary and Mike Mangini.

In 2008, this new lineup released Extreme’s fifth album “Saudades de Rock.” However, although technically still together, the band took a very long break from recording music and only released their sixth album, appropriately titled “Six,” in 2023. And that record has gotten some serious attention, particularly because of its song “Rise” and its lead part.

Extreme - Saudades De Rock (Full Album)

In a recent interview, Bettencourt reflected on this solo and what guitar-oriented music is generally like these days. After all, things have changed a lot during the lengthy break between their two albums. Nuno said:

“When ‘Rise‘ came out, we thought, ‘OK, decent song, decent guitar solo,’ but the reaction that it got was something else. When Rick Beato posted his video breaking down the solo, and he’s saying that Steve Lukather’s calling, and his brother is calling and Phil X is calling saying, ‘Have you heard the Nuno solo?,’ it was really surreal for me.”

“It’s that scenario that you fantasize about as a kid. He’s saying things like, ‘Other than Eddie, he’s the guy!’ You’re like, ‘OK, hold on a second!’ I had people I admire texting me, like Phil Collen from Def Leppard, Brian May reaching out and talking about it. You have to take a step back and go ‘What’s actually happening here?’”

Extreme - "Rise" (Official Video)

“Mateus Asato hit me up like, ‘What the fuck did you just do?’ and I’m thinking, ‘What do you mean what did I just do? You do this in your fucking sleep!‘ I realized that it’s not about being able to do it. Anybody can play the solo. I’m not even joking. You break that thing down and there’s not much going on technically, really.”

 “There’s no lack of players in the world right now. As a matter of fact, it’s at a bar that’s beyond belief. It’s exhausting almost. Every day I wake up and scroll to Instagram. There are players [where] your jaw drops. You’re like, ‘I couldn’t play that if I wanted to!’“

“But what was missing was a band that puts out an album, and more importantly a video. Why a video? Because all these amazing guitar players are incredible technically, but most of them are sitting down. The rock ’n’ roll culture, the passion, the fire, the danger, and the joy – the physical part of it is missing.”

Photo: Public domain (Extreme08 026)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.