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January 19, 2024

Nuno Bettencourt On How His Latest Greatest Guitar Solo Honors Van Halen

via Q1043

Nuno Bettencourt is the first to admit that he’s a “walking tribute” to his guitar hero Eddie Van Halen (along with “everyone who played guitar after 1978”) but the Extreme guitarist was fortunate to have had a longstanding personal relationship with Eddie, and an extra special encounter with the maestro in 2019, less than a year before his death.

Eddie himself dropped by Nuno’s home studio unannounced the day Nuno was putting together his Van Halen-inspired guitar solo for “RISE,” the lead single from Extreme’s latest album, SIX.

As Nuno recalls to Q104.3 New York’s Out of the Box with Jonathan Clarke, he was sequestered in his control room when singer Gary Cherone interrupted with a burst of calls and text messages.

“[Gary] knows not to come in the room,” Nuno says. “They know, for 30 years, not to come in the room [while I’m doing a solo], Nuno will throw s—t at you.”

But as the texts and missed calls accumulated, Nuno worried there was something wrong.

“I thought something happened,” Nuno recalls. “I race down the stairs, I open my door and there’s Edward [Van Halen]. And I’m like, ‘That’s a good reason to interrupt my solo!’”

Nuno, Gary and Eddie spent some time catching up, but when Eddie pressed about hearing what Nuno was working on, the guitarist resisted the chance to grant a sneak peak. He promised to let Eddie hear it when it was a bit closer to being finished.

Unfortunately, Eddie got sick and passed away in 2020, before he was able to hear the finished album.

Given the turn of events, Nuno revisited the “RISE” guitar solo during the album mixing phase, deciding to make it a more overt tribute to Eddie, using one of Eddie’s signature sounds on the lead, the MXR EVH Phase 90 pedal.

“It’s really interesting because [Eddie] shows up at the house the day I’m doing [the solo],” Nuno says. “I do this Phase 90 thing [in the mix], and then if that wasn’t enough … the solo blows up in a way that’s like, ‘Wait, what is happening?’ I haven’t been on a cover of a magazine in like 30 years and now I’m on the cover of like nine or something!”