Extreme is an American rock band, headed by frontmen Gary Cherone and Nuno Bettencourt, that reached the height of their popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Among some of Extreme's musical influences are Van Halen, Queen, Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin. The band played at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992, also jammed with Brian May and Van Halen, and Cherone joined Van Halen in 1996. The band has described their music as "Funky Metal" in the early days, but it would evolve much more in the mid-90s by blending classic rock influences with post-grunge and alternative rock.
They have released five studio albums, two EPs (in Japan) and two compilation albums since their formation. The band was one of the most successful rock acts of the early 1990s, selling over 10 million albums worldwide. Extreme achieved their greatest success with their 1990 album Pornograffitti, which peaked at number 10 on the Billboard 200, and was certified gold in May 1991 and 2×platinum in October 1992. That album featured the acoustic ballad single "More Than Words," which reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 in the United States.
Early years (1985–1989)
Extreme was formed in Malden, Massachusetts, in 1985. Vocalist Gary Cherone and drummer Paul Geary were in a band called "The Dream" ("Extreme" is a derivation of Cherone and Geary's former band "The Dream", meaning "Ex-Dream"). Guitarist Nuno Bettencourt was in a band called "Sinful", and bassist Pat Badger was playing with a Berklee-based outfit called "In The Pink". Following an altercation between the rival groups over communal dressing rooms, the four decided to form a new band together.
Cherone and Bettencourt began writing songs together and the band played numerous shows in the Boston area. They gradually developed a strong local following, and were named "Outstanding Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Act" at the Boston Music Awards in 1986 and 1987.
The band had accumulated several original songs by the time A&R director Bryan Huttenhower signed them to A&M Records (which was soon sold to PolyGram) in 1988. The band then recorded their self-titled debut album which was issued in 1989. The first single was "Kid Ego," a song that Cherone would later admit made him cringe. The final track on the album, "Play With Me," was used as the "mall chase" song in the film Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.
Popular success (1990–1993)
Sales of Extreme's first record were sufficient to support a second release. Michael Wagener, who had previously worked with Dokken and White Lion, was hired to produce the band's Extreme II: Pornograffitti album in 1990.
The record, which showcased Bettencourt's guitar-playing, was a mixture of funk, pop and Glam metal sounds. "Decadence Dance" and "Get the Funk Out" were released as singles. "Get the Funk Out" reached number 19 in the UK charts in June 1991. Neither single was successful in the United States, however, and the album had fallen off the charts when A&M sent the third single to a number of radio stations in Arizona.
The acoustic ballad "More Than Words" entered the Hot 100 on March 23, 1991, at Number 81. It later became a huge smash, hitting Number 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 in the United States. The subsequent single, "Hole Hearted", another acoustic track, was also successful, rising to Number 4 on the same popular music chart.
The band began recording their third album in 1992. Their appearance at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in April 1992 interrupted the recording sessions, but it gave the band considerable exposure beyond the heavy metal fraternity. By playing a medley at the tribute, as well as "Love of My Life" and "More Than Words" acoustically, Extreme gained a considerable amount of fans along with the Queen fan base. At the introductory speech before they played, Brian May noted that they "possibly more than any other group on this planet, knew what Queen was about all these years, and what Freddie was about all these years."
III Sides to Every Story was released on September 22, 1992. The first single from the album, "Rest in Peace", had an accompanying video clip inspired by a film short by the National Film Board of Canada called Neighbours. The band was sued for plagiarism, but they quickly settled out of court, later releasing a new version of the clip. The album contained noticeable religious themes, presumably put there by Cherone, who noted in interviews being interested in evangelical preachers. The album was generally favored by music critics and fans, but it failed to sell as well as Pornograffitti.
Mangini era and break-up (1994–1996)
Prior to the band's appearance at Donington's Monsters of Rock festival in the summer of 1994, Mike Mangini replaced Paul Geary on drums, who left the band to pursue a career on the business side of the music industry, managing successful acts such as Godsmack.
Waiting for the Punchline, the first record to feature Mangini (on 3 tracks, Paul Geary still played on the rest of the album), was released on February 7, 1995. The singles "Hip Today", "Unconditionally," and "Cynical" were released, but the album sold even less than III Sides to Every Story. Extreme disbanded after the tour in 1996, on amicable terms, when Nuno decided to leave to pursue a solo career.
On the recommendation of former Extreme manager Ray Danniels, in 1996, Gary Cherone joined one of the world's most successful rock acts, Van Halen. During 1996, Van Halen's fan-base weathered the acrimonious departures of two of rock's most successful lead singers: first David Lee Roth, the band's original frontman, (1974-1985) and then Sammy Hagar, who had fronted Van Halen since 1985. Into this fractious, and very public situation entered Cherone, whom guitarist Eddie Van Halen later called a "musical soulmate." In 1998, the Cherone-fronted Van Halen released Van Halen III.
Van Halen III was a departure for the band—experimental, sometimes acoustic, and socially conscious, lyrically. It bore little resemblance to the band's earlier, riff-driven classic rock. Longtime Van Halen fans drew negative comparisons between Cherone's socially-conscious lyrics and those of iconically tongue-in-cheek lyricist, David Lee Roth. Also, Cherone's sometimes complex lyrics were perceived to lack the 'everyman' quality that Sammy Hagar's possessed. Additionally, on tour, Gary's stage presence was criticized.
Van Halen III reached No. 4 on the Billboard 100 album charts, and sold over 500,000 copies in the U.S. alone; however, by Van Halen's standards, it was a failure. All 12 of their previous albums had all sold over 2,000,000 copies in the U.S. alone, with 2 selling over 10,000,000 in the U.S. alone—and the previous five studio albums had all reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album charts. Van Halen's tour was successful; however, not as successful as in previous years.
In late 1999, after Van Halen's 2nd album with Cherone was 'sent back' by Warner Bros. Records, Cherone left the band. He later formed Tribe of Judah, which released an album called Exit Elvis in 2002. In 2005, Cherone released a four song sampler CD, entitled Need I Say More.
In 1997 Nuno Bettencourt released his first solo album titled Schizophonic. In 1998 he formed a group called Mourning Widows who released a self-titled album that year and a follow-up album, Furnished Souls For Rent, in 2000. Following the breakup of that band, he released another solo album under the project name of Population 1 in 2002. Acquiring new members for the tour, he decided to keep the name Population 1 and the first release as a band was a five-song E.P. entitled "Sessions from Room 4" in 2004. They then changed the band's name to Dramagods and created a follow-up CD entitled Love in 2005. Nuno along with bandmates Kevin Figueiredo and Steve Ferlazzo then went on to collaborate with Perry Farrell's project Satellite Party.
A 13-track Extreme "best-of" collection, The Best of Extreme - An Accidental Collocation of Atoms?, was released in 1998. A re-packaged collection with a different tracklisting titled Extreme - The Collection was released in 2002.
Extreme reformed for a short tour in 2004 playing in the Azores (August), in their hometown of Boston at the WAAF anniversary (Sept.19) as well as a few concerts in Japan (January 2005). After a hiatus during 2005, the band returned in 2006 with the "classic" Pornograffitti line-up to do a small, three-show reunion tour through New England.
In July 2007 Bettencourt quit Satellite Party for the definite Extreme reunion with Gary Cherone and Pat Badger. On November 26, 2007, the band announced plans for a world tour in the summer of 2008 with King's X as well as a release date for their new album, Saudades de Rock, produced by Bettencourt. Kevin Figueiredo, who played with Bettencourt in DramaGods and Satellite Party, took over drum duties for the band. Original drummer Paul Geary would still remain involved with the band, albeit in a management position. Singles from the album have been available on MySpace including "Star." The album was released on July 28, 2008 in France, August 4, 2008 in Europe, and August 12, 2008 in the United States.
The band then embarked on the Take Us Alive World Tour, supported by King's X in the US and Hot Leg in the UK, with various other dates in Europe and Asia, through all of 2008. In 2009, the band continued to tour, co-headlining the East Meets West Tour with Ratt. The final date of this tour, in their hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, was recorded for the release of the band's first live DVD called Take Us Alive.
According to a December 2010 interview with singer Gary Cherone, Extreme had been writing new material for a new album, which they planned - at the time - to release in 2011. Asked in the same interview if the band will produce the new album by themselves or get an outside producer, Cherone replied, "There's talk of a few people. It would be great to get an A-list name. I don't know if that happens. My dream producer would probably be Rick Rubin. Here's a guy that's done Johnny Cash, the Chili Peppers and you know, Neil Diamond." But due to conflicting schedules with Nuno Bettencourt supporting popstar Rihanna on her tour during 2011, plans to go into the studio were postponed to 2012.
Also in 2010 rumors started about possible commemorative shows for Extreme II: Pornograffitti, given the 20th anniversary of the record. Finally, in 2012, initially a small string of such shows in Japan has been confirmed, marking the full return of the band's activities after a hiatus when Nuno was on tour with Rihanna, as well as other side projects by other members, most notably Gary Cherone's Hurtsmile. Extreme were to tour Australia in April of 2013, with Richie Kotzen as support act, but the shows were cancelled due to scheduling conflicts with Rihanna's 2013 North American tour.
- Extreme Tour
- Pornograffitti Tour
- III Sides to Every Story Tour
- Waiting for the Punchline Tour
- 2004 Mini-Reunion Tour (Azores, Portugal)
- 2005 Reunion Tour (Japan)
- 2006 Reunion Mini-Tour (New England area, US)
- Take Us Alive World Tour 2008
- East Meets West Tour '09
- Current members
- Gary Cherone – lead vocals (1985–1996, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007–present)
- Nuno Bettencourt – lead guitar, 6 and 12-string acoustic guitar, brass/orchestration arrangements, keyboards, vocals (1985–1996, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007–present)
- Pat Badger – bass, acoustic bass guitar, backing vocals (1986–1996, 2006, 2007–present)
- Kevin Figueiredo – drums, percussion (2007–present)
- Former members
- Paul Geary – drums, percussion, tambourine, backing vocals (1985–1994, 2005–2006)
- Paul Mangone – bass, backing vocals (1985–1986)
- Peter Hunt – lead guitar, backing vocals (1985)
- Hal Lebeaux – rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1985)
- Mike Mangini – drums, percussion (1994–1996)
- Carl Restivo – bass, backing vocals (2004)
- Laurent Duval – bass, backing vocals (2005)
- Extreme (1989)
- Pornograffitti (1990)
- III Sides to Every Story (1992)
- Waiting for the Punchline (1995)
- Saudades de Rock (2008)
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