"I owe him an apology. I'd like to sit down with him and have a beer": Extreme's Nuno Bettencourt on upsetting a member of Guns N' Roses and the guitar solo that broke the internet

Extreme group shot
(Image credit: Jessie Lirola)

Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt has got lots of good memories of 2023, including bagging a UK Top 30 album with Six, his band’s first new record in 15 years, and playing the Super Bowl with Rihanna. 

Then there’s the stuff he’d rather forget about. Namely the online spat with a Guns N’ Roses guitarist and blowing out his knee in a bizarre basketball accident


Given you haven’t put out an album for fifteen years, did it surprise you just how well Six did? 

The response was beyond belief, in the sense that things are not supposed to happen like this for a bunch of late 50-somethings. All I can say is that the hunger was there. People were maybe missing seeing somebody who gave a shit what they were doing, from the music to what they were wearing to the fact they stayed in shape. 

The internet lost its mind over your solo in the single Rise. How did you feel about that? 

My manager said, ‘What are you going for as a guitar player on this album?’ And I said, ‘I’m going for blood.’ I want to bring guitar back. Not in a technical way, but in a joyful, exciting way. All the great guitar players, there was creativity, but there was a love and passion to it. 

You got into an online ding-dong with GN’R’s Richard Fortus after you said that Slash wouldn’t have been able to play with Rihanna. At what point did you regret posting that on Twitter? 

Oh, the second I took my finger off the ‘send’ button. I’m a passionate guy, I’ve had to learn to take a deep breath, step back, re-read it. I didn’t do that. It wasn’t actually about Slash himself, but I didn’t put it across the right way. I put up a video the next day, saying I owe everyone an apology, that I was immature. Richard was just protecting his boy. I owe him an apology. I’d like to sit down with him and have a beer. 

What was playing the Super Bowl as part of Rihanna's band like? 

As a huge sports fan, it was being part of one ofthe greatest shows on earth, even if you’d had to have paused it for 1.3 milliseconds to see me. Just to be part of that whole history was a dream come true.

Has Rihanna heard the Extreme album? 

I don’t know. She was busy having a baby. But I did send her and the team each video as they came out, and I got a bunch of thumbs up back. 

You had to cancel a festival appearance after busting your knee while playing basketball. What happened? 

Oh man, [that] was really stupid. We never do anything like that before we play, but Gary [Cherone, singer] dragged me onto that fucking court: ‘Come on, just for 10 minutes’. I was coming down from a shot and I was trying to avoid landing on some guy. I remember my knee just coming out. The pain… [winces] to rip out your ACL, and your meniscus and your MCL all at the same time, it’s pretty traumatic. 

We lost Jerry Moss, the co-founder of your original label A&M, this year. What’s your favourite memory of him? 

Talk about a label that was set up by musicians for musicians. Nobody welcomed us to A&M more than the A and the M – Jerry Moss and [co-founder/jazz musician] Herb Alpert. I remember getting a message from Herb Alpert one time: ‘I got a room, wanna jam?’ I get there, he’s got a trumpet, we set up a drum machine and we just get a groove going. And this is one of the founders of the label. 

What’s better: being in Extreme in 1993 or being in Extreme in 2023? 

I wouldn’t trade either. The origins are always going to be more powerful, because there are so many firsts: your first tour bus, your first radio song, playing some shithole club with Alice In Chains to 30 people and having Tom Morello tell you years later, ‘I was at that show.’ But now, getting all that again from fans, it’s so humbling. You’re sometimes just reduced to tears about it. 

Will we have to wait another fifteen years for a new studio album? 

Oh, I would never do that again. Maybe only thirteen or fourteen. All I’m gonna say is that we’re throwing around a title, Eclectricity. So that’s a start.

Six is out on A&M.

Dave Everley

Dave Everley has been writing about and occasionally humming along to music since the early 90s. During that time, he has been Deputy Editor on Kerrang! and Classic Rock, Associate Editor on Q magazine and staff writer/tea boy on Raw, not necessarily in that order. He has written for Metal Hammer, Louder, Prog, the Observer, Select, Mojo, the Evening Standard and the totally legendary Ultrakill. He is still waiting for Billy Gibbons to send him a bottle of hot sauce he was promised several years ago.