Nuno Bettencourt on playing guitar for Rihanna: “It was cool to destroy some of those songs”

The Extreme guitarist recounts his experiences playing with one of the world’s biggest pop stars.

[L-R] Rihanna and Nuno Bettencourt

Credit: Larry Marano/Getty Images

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Nuno Bettencourt is best known for his work in Boston rock and metal outfit Extreme. But his formidable chops have landed him numerous other high-profile gigs, perhaps most notably with one of the biggest pop stars in the world, Rihanna.

The Portuguese-American guitarist lent his superior six-string skills to several of the Umbrella singer’s tours – including her Last Girl On Earth, Loud and Diamonds World treks – and even supported her during her massive Super Bowl halftime show earlier this year.

And in a new interview with Anne Erickson of Audio Ink Radio, the guitarist waxes lyrical on his time spent with one of the world’s biggest music icons.

“She’s a massive artist and she’s super cool to hang with,” he says [per Blabbermouth]. “The shows were ridiculous, the audiences, and it was amazing.

“When they first wanted me to do it, when she first wanted me and Tony Bruno to do it, I was, like, ‘Why? There’s no guitar on this stuff.’ But they said, ‘Well, that’s why we want you to do it and rock it out.’

“And I said, ‘I get to be me, right? Fully? My same sound?’ And they go, ‘Yep.’ So that was really cool. It was really cool to destroy some of those songs. [Laughs] But, honestly, to play songs as iconic [as] Umbrella, and add big guitars to it and all that, that was really cool. It was pretty interesting.”

Bettencourt goes on to recall his experience of playing with Rihanna at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.

“Look, it was a trip for many reasons,” he says. “One was [that] the halftime show is iconic, and to be a part of it and rehearse at the stadium and be a part of that history. And also I’m a big football fan, so that was even iconic for me – just the fact that… the teams that were playing and being part of [the] NFL and all that, it was a big bucket-list moment for me for sure.”

Earlier this year, Nuno Bettencourt dispelled a long-circulating rumour that Rihanna wanted to make a metal album with his help.

“It’s so incorrect. I promise you on the life of my children that those words never came out of my mouth,” he said. “It’s a good story, which is why it got written I guess, but it’s absolutely not true.”

In other Nuno Bettencourt news, the guitarist recently recalled a brief songwriting session he shared with Beatles legend Paul McCartney, which was cut short by Kanye West.


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