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Nuno Bettencourt

Nuno Duarte Gil Mendes Bettencourt (born September 20, 1966) is a Portuguese-American guitarist and singer-songwriter best known for his role as the lead guitarist of the Boston hard rock band Extreme whose hits include the acoustic ballad "More Than Words".

NunoHe has since recorded a solo project called Schizophonic as well as with bands he founded including Mourning Widows, Population 1, DramaGods, The Satellite Party (headed by Jane's Addiction's former frontman and Lollapalooza co-founder Perry Farrell), and then reunited with Extreme to record new music and tour.

Since 1990, Bettencourt has had his own line of custom guitars designed by Washburn Guitars. His line is known as the N-Series, and is currently promoting the Washburn N4

Musical Style

As a guitarist and songwriter, Bettencourt draws from an eclectic variety of styles and influences. However, his most prominent work has been in the realm of rock and heavy metal guitar despite his most popular commercial hits being acoustic songs. Bettencourt's technical guitar playing is influenced by many different guitar players who have key attributes in their playing, that have rubbed off on Nuno such as Eddie Van Halen, Al Di Meola and Jimmy Page, while his solos and sense of melody are influenced by Brian May of Queen. He is particularly adept at arpeggios articulated via string-skipping tapping. One of the strongest elements in Nuno's playing is his sense of rhythm, often using a very loose wrist technique to execute fast triplet picking licks to create a funky sound to his rhythm playing and also his use of poly-rhythms to blur bar lines and create a unique sound.


Early years

Nuno Bettencourt was born on September 20, 1966 in Praia da Vitória, Terceira, Azores, Portugal, to Ezequiel Mendes Bettencourt and wife Aureolina da Cunha Gil de Ávila. Bettencourt's family, parents and two brothers Luís and Roberto Carlos, along with a sister Helena, moved to Hudson, Massachusetts when he was four. Bettencourt lived on Main Street in Hudson for 21 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, Luis, began to teach him how to play guitar.

While Bettencourt was slow to adopt the instrument under his brother's tutelage, his skills quickly developed when he began teaching himself, and he has mentioned in many interviews that he would skip many school days to practice upwards of 7 hours a day. In his sophomore and junior years of high school, Bettencourt dropped out of sports so he could focus on playing guitar. He would eventually drop out of high school for the same reason.

As a guitarist, one of Bettencourt's earliest influences was Eddie Van Halen. However, as he developed his craft as a guitarist and songwriter, his influences expanded to embrace The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Prince, Queen, Pat Travers, Paco de Lucía, Al Di Meola.


Unable to make a dent in the music world with his Boston-based hair-metal act Sinful, Bettencourt rose to international prominence as a guitar player after he joined the Boston-area group Extreme in 1985. Signed to A&M Records shortly after Bettencourt joined the group, the band released its debut record, Extreme, in 1989.

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. Nuno composed and arranged the brass and string sections for this album and the full orchestra on III Sides to Every Story.

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.

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.

Extreme hiatus period

In 1997, Bettencourt released his first solo effort, Schizophonic, which he had been working on for five years. The album received good reviews but didn't sell well.

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), had a self-titled debut album released 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. Both Mourning Widows releases cultivated a strong following in Japan and the New England region of the U.S.

In 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.

In 2009, Bettencourt was featured in a song and video called "Best Night Ever"[3] by Marshall, a character on How I Met Your Mother. The video was a parody of Extreme's "More Than Words" video, in which the entire main cast of How I Met Your Mother made appearances.

Population 1 & DramaGods

Bettencourt formed the recording entity Population 1 and released the self-titled and self-produced 2002 release, Population 1, on Universal/Japan and YBM/Korea. In support of the Population 1 (which featured him playing all instruments on most tracks), release in Japan and Korea, 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 as well as an east coast tour in the fall of that year. Due to legal issues, the name Population 1 was dropped in 2005 and the band was renamed to Near Death Experience, then again, renamed to DramaGods.

DramaGods released their first album in December 2005 available as an import via Victor Entertainment (Japan). The band then made their record available as a digital download on iTunes in early 2006.

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 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.

Nuno 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.

Personal life

On August 27, 1994, Bettencourt married singer Suze DeMarchi. They have two children together: Bebe Orleans (b. February 2, 1996) and Lorenzo Aureolino (b. August 12, 2002). They have recently moved to Sydney from Los Angeles.

Bettencourt cites Italian food as his favorite cuisine. His guilty pleasures include Sushi and Butterfinger bars (Music Choice).

Washburn Guitars

In December 1990, Washburn Guitars unveiled the Washburn N4 Nuno Bettencourt Signature Series - a series of Bettencourt-designed guitars which endures today.

The Nuno Bettencourt models are flagshipped by the American hand-made Washburn N4. The Washburn N4 guitar is a small reverse headstock super-strat which features the unique Stephen's Extended Cutaway neck joint for easy access to the higher frets. It also contains Bill Lawrence and Seymour Duncan pickups, and a Floyd Rose licensed tremolo. The production budget model of this guitar which is built in China is known as the N2 and features a standard bolt-on neck. The N3 was a short run Korean reproduction of the Washburn N4 using Washburn stock pickups. The original N2 and N3 guitars were prototype guitars built for Nuno. The N2 lacking the Stephen's Extended Cutaway and the N3 using a Bill Lawrence L500-R in the neck rather than the Seymour Duncan 59. Other models include The N5 and N6. Nuno has also endorsed several Washburn acoustic models. As well as a line of 'set-neck' electric guitars Including the P- Series which was released in various models with a more retro, deep cutaway style.


Release YearArtistAlbum/Song TitleLabel
1989 Extreme Extreme A&M Records
1990 Extreme Pornograffitti A&M Records
1990 Janet Jackson "Black Cat" A&M Records
1990 Jim Gilmore Putting Back The Rock  
1991 Dweezil Zappa Confessions Barking Pumpkin Records
1991 Various Guitar's Practicing Musicians Vol. 2 Red Distribution
1992 Extreme III Sides to Every Story A&M Records
1992 Various Guitars That Rule The World, Vol. 1 Metal Blade Records
1993 Dan Reed Network Mixin' It Up: The Best of the Dan Reed Network Phonogram Records
1993 Baby Animals Shaved and Dangerous BMG Arista/Ariola Limited
1993 Various Super Mario Bros. Original Motion Picture Soundtrak / "Where Are You Going?" Capitol Records
1994 Various Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved / "Strutter" Mercury Records
1994 Robert Palmer Honey EMI Records
1995 Extreme Waiting for the Punchline A&M Records
1997 Nuno Schizophonic A&M Records
1998 Mourning Widows Mourning Widows Bruno Graffiti Records/Polydor Records
1999 Suze DeMarchi Telelove Mushroom Records
2000 Mourning Widows Furnished Souls For Rent PolyGram
2002 Population 1 Population 1 Bruno Graffiti Records
2003 Nuno Bettencourt Best of Nuno Universal Japan
2004 Population 1 Sessions from Room 4 EP Bruno Graffiti Records
2005 Various Numbers from the Beast / "Aces High" Rykodisc
2005 DramaGods Love JVC Victor
2005 Toni Braxton Libra / "Shadowless" Blackground Records
2007 Satellite Party Ultra Payloaded Columbia Records
2007 T. M. Stevens Africans In The Snow / "Gotta Get Me Move On" [4] Steamhammer Records
2007 Various Music from the Mound / "Gyro Ball" [5] EMI America Records
2008 Nuno Bettencourt Smart People (Original Soundtrack) Hollywood Records
2008 Extreme Saudades de Rock Fontana Records, Frontiers Records
2010 Extreme Take Us Alive Frontiers Records
2010 Rihanna Loud Def Jam Recordings
2011 Pushking The World As We Love It / "It'll Be OK" Fontana Records

Updated: 2011-05-17 10:51:34