During a recent conversation with Nuno Bettencourt about Extreme’s forthcoming album, Six, the guitar virtuoso got to speaking with Metal Edge about the band’s new single, “Rise,” and in particular the searing solo that has wow’d the guitar world at large.
But while there’s been much talk about the explosive, dazzling lead being something of a tribute to the late Edward Van Halen, Bettencourt revealed that not only was much of the solo recorded prior to Van Halen’s passing in 2020, but, amazingly, Eddie himself stopped by the studio while it was all going down.
“On the day I was working on the solo, Gary [Cherone, Extreme and former Van Halen singer] was in town to finish some vocals,” Bettencourt explained. “And Gary knows that I don’t like to be bothered while I’m recording. But for some reason, he kept blowing up my phone and asking me to go to lunch, which really pissed me off.”
Pausing momentarily to recall Cherone’s text, Bettencourt said: “Gary texted me, ‘Hey, what’s happening in there? You’ve got to come out front; somebody is here to say ‘Hi.’ I’m like, ‘Okay…’ and I went downstairs, and as I walked out, I saw that Edward Van Halen was waiting for me. They’d already gone to lunch together, and that’s why Gary had been trying to get a hold of me… which was a good reason to interrupt.”
Bettencourt continued, “When I got downstairs, Edward asked me to go up and listen to what I was working on. Being the Virgo and the idiot I am, I was like, ‘Wait ’til it’s done. I’ll show you then.’ And Edward said, ‘Absolutely, I’ll come back then.’
“But he sadly passed away not too long after that. So, I’m hoping that he’s smiling down on me. But ‘Rise’ is special because that’s the song I was cutting the last time I saw him.”
Now that “Rise” has been shared with the world, some big guitar names have concurred that it is indeed a special song. Said Bettencourt, “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.
But, Bettencourt asserted, “I have to say that while that is gratifying, 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?’ “