Nuno Bettencourt on being dubbed Eddie Van Halen’s heir: “Nobody sits on that throne”

“We’re talking about a guy who changed culture and how we play guitar,” the Extreme guitarist says.

Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme and Eddie Van Halen

Image: Desiree Stone / Michele Sandberg / Getty Images

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Nuno Bettencourt has admitted to having mixed feelings about being seen as Eddie Van Halen’s heir in the realm of rock guitar playing.

Discussing the late guitar legend’s legacy in a new interview with Metal Edge, Bettencourt is asked to share his thoughts on being referred to as Van Halen’s successor, to which he replies with a laugh, “Gee, thanks for the pressure. Really appreciate it, man.”

“I mean, I never asked for that, but listen, when [Extreme’s] Rise came out, I was getting some great responses on the solo and everything in general, and that felt really good,” he says.

“A lot of my peers and heroes, like Steve Lukather, Steve Vai and Brian May, sent me personal texts and emails after sharing the song, which was amazing. And then, I was starting to read everywhere that I was like, ‘The heir to the throne’ that Edward left.”

Bettencourt admits that as “gratifying” as that label might be, “there is no heir to the throne of Eddie Van Halen. Nobody sits on that throne. Nobody takes that throne.”

“Here’s why it’s different with Eddie: when a great guitar player passes, you just move on to another, right? But in this case, Eddie wasn’t just a ‘guitar player’. We’re talking about a guy who changed culture and how we play guitar. He was like an alien coming in and fucking everything up so much that even the legends beforehand are like, ‘Okay… what is happening here? What sorcery is this?’”

He continues: “All I can say is that after seeing him while I was working on Rise and then hearing the news of his passing, I did feel a little bit of a responsibility.”

“It’s not about me being ‘the guy’ or some great guitar player, because there are lots of them, right? But I definitely felt that within my genre and my generation, I felt like that after Edward passed, I had at least a little bit of responsibility to set an example.”

Last month, Nuno Bettencourt spoke about the creative process behind Extreme’s upcoming album, Six

“I wanna go for blood on this album,” he said, “in the sense of I want to make it fun, and I want to make it fun with the guitar, so that there are things within the rhythm playing. To bring joy into it, to bring passion into it, is what I have always done in the past, and it comes from that Edward Van Halen school, and Brian May and Jimmy Page.”

Six is set to arrive on 9 June via earMUSIC. To learn more, head to the band’s website.


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