Initially, Bettencourt had little interest in music, preferring to spend his time playing hockey and soccer. His first instrument was the drums and he played them exclusively until his brother, Luis, began to teach him how to play guitar.
While Bettencourt was slow to adopt the instrument under his brother's tutelage, his skills quickly developed when he began teaching himself, and he has mentioned in many interviews that he would skip many school days to practice upwards of 7 hours a day. In his sophomore and junior years of high school, Bettencourt dropped out of sports so he could focus on playing guitar. He would eventually drop out of high school for the same reason.
As a guitarist, one of Bettencourt's earliest influences was Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen. However, as he developed his craft as a guitarist and songwriter, his influences expanded to embrace The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Prince, Queen, Pat Travers, Paco de Lucía, Vito Bratta, Al Di Meola and Aerosmith.
Unable to make a dent in the music world with his Boston-based hair-metal act Sinful, Bettencourt rose to international prominence as a guitar player after he joined the Boston-area group Extreme in 1985. Signed to A&M Records shortly after Bettencourt joined the group, the band released its debut record, Extreme, in 1989.
In 1990, Extreme released their most critically acclaimed album, Pornograffitti, which included the hits "More Than Words" and "Hole Hearted". The band followed it with III Sides to Every Story in 1992. Nuno composed and arranged the brass and string sections for this album and the full orchestra on III Sides to Every Story.
In 1993, Bettencourt co-wrote and produced "Where Are You Going" for the Super Mario Bros. movie. He also joined Robert Palmer in the studio to record Palmer's album Honey.
In 1995, Extreme released the album, Waiting for the Punchline, but the band broke up in 1996 when Bettencourt expressed his desire to follow a solo career. Shortly after, singer Gary Cherone went on to become the lead singer of Van Halen.
In 2007, the band reformed with the original line up (with the exception of Paul Geary) to begin work on a new album, Saudades de Rock, released on August 12, 2008, and subsequent tour.
In 1997, Bettencourt released his first solo effort, Schizophonic, which he had been working on for five years. The album received good reviews but didn't sell well.
On December 16, 1997, Bettencourt's new band - Mourning Widows (whose name was inspired by a writing he had seen on a church wall back in Portugal), had a self-titled debut album released in Japan on Polydor Records. It sold 45,000 in the first month. The band featured Roberto Carlos' son Donovan Bettencourt on bass and New York drummer Jeff Consi.
In 2000, Mourning Widow's follow-up, Furnished Souls for Rent originally released in Japan, and then in the U.S. Both Mourning Widows releases cultivated a strong following in Japan and the New England region of the U.S.
In 2008, Bettencourt was featured on the soundtrack for the motion picture Smart People. Bettencourt is credited on the cover on the soundtrack as well. The soundtrack also features the Gary Cherone track, "Need I Say More", and Baby Animals selections. The album was released by Hollywood Records and is available on iTunes.
In 2009, Bettencourt was featured in a song and video called "Best Night Ever" by Marshall, a character on How I Met Your Mother. The video was a parody of Extreme's "More Than Words" video, in which the entire main cast of How I Met Your Mother made appearances.
Bettencourt formed the recording entity Population 1 and released the self-titled and self-produced 2002 release, Population 1, on Universal/Japan and YBM/Korea. In support of the Population 1 (which featured him playing all instruments on most tracks), release in Japan and Korea, Bettencourt assembled a band with Joe Pessia on bass, Steve Ferlazzo on keyboards and back-up vocals, and Kevin Figueiredo on drums and back-up vocals. Steve Ferlazzo was also featured in Cherone’s next band carnation effort after Van Halen’s breakup,(Along with Pat Badger and Mike Mangini from Extreme)Tribe of Judah.
In 2004, Population 1 released Sessions from Room Four as well as an east coast tour in the fall of that year. Due to legal issues, the name Population 1 was dropped in 2005 and the band was renamed to Near Death Experience, then again, renamed to DramaGods.
DramaGods released their first album in December 2005 available as an import via Victor Entertainment (Japan). The band then made their record available as a digital download on iTunes in early 2006.
DramaGods are currently seeking a record deal for release of their first album under the new name in the U.S. After an explosive debut on the increasingly-popular The Late Late with Craig Ferguson, the band (still called 'Population 1' at that point), later appeared on the social networking website MySpace, featuring videos and songs from the aforementioned Dramagods album, entitled Love.
Nuno decided to make the album available through iTunes before procuring an American record deal.
Bettencourt frequently toured with DramaGods in Japan where they appeared at the Udo Music Festival along with KISS, Santana, Jeff Beck, The Doobie Brothers, Alice in Chains, The Pretenders, Ben Folds Five, and others in July 2006 shortly after Bettencourt took part in a three date reunion tour with Extreme in New England.
Nuno Bettencourt's playing has recently been featured on the Universal/Japan CD and DVD release of Guitar Wars featuring solo and collective performances of Bettencourt with many others, including Steve Hackett (Genesis, GTR), Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and Racer X guitarist Paul Gilbert.
The Satellite Party is Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell's new project which featured Bettencourt as lead guitarist (Nuno left the band in July 2007, citing disagreements about the direction of the live show), along with DramaGods drummer Kevin Figueiredo, bassist Carl Restivo (who also played with Extreme in the Azores in 2004), and Etty Farrell on backing vocals. An earlier lineup of the band with Perry Farrell, Etty Farrell, Nuno, Kevin Figueiredo, and Steve Ferlazo (Dramagods) on keyboards performed at the 2005 Lollapalooza festival.
Bettencourt helped produce Ultra Payloaded, the debut album by Satellite Party released on May 29, 2007 on Columbia Records. On June 29, 2007, they performed alongside Pearl Jam, Kings of Leon and Incubus in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. In late July 2007, Nuno Bettencourt and Drummer Kfigg departed Satellite Party.
The latest CD from magician Criss Angel contains a song on which Bettencourt appears and was released in June 2006. Sully Erna, Vince Neil, Shannon Larkin and Bettencourt join Angel in the video for the track "MF 2" which was shot atop the Aladdin parking garage.
Bettencourt is still active in the music industry. According to former Journey lead singer Steve Perry, Bettencourt has teamed with him to write and arrange songs. He also has writing and recording engagements with Maverick Records' Tantric (Bettencourt co-wrote Tantric's hit single "Hey Now"), Hollywood recording group BB Mak, Toni Braxton, and numerous others. Nuno announced in November 2009 that he will be touring with Pop Superstar Rihanna on her next world tour as her lead guitarist, having appeared alongside her in several TV shows and other performances. Nuno also stated that Extreme will continue.
Nuno has also collaborated with his wife Suze DeMarchi and with all of her Baby Animals bandmates. On Baby Animals second release, Shaved And Dangerous (July 1996), Nuno produced a few songs and co-wrote Because I Can, which he can clearly be heard playing guitar on as well. Additionally, on Nuno's first solo release, Schizophonic (1997) all members of Baby Animals appear. Suze sings background with Nuno on the single Crave. Dave Leslie (guitar), Frank Celenza (drums) and Eddie Parise (bass) all join Nuno on the track Two Weeks In Dizneeland. Nuno also contributed greatly in writing, recording and producing Suze's solo debut from 1998, Telelove.
Nuno also produced Dweezil Zappa's 1991 release on Barking Pumpkin Records, Confessions. In this record, Nuno sings lead vocals for the first time on a semi-ballad entitled The Kiss, as well as playing guitar and singing background vocals on some other tracks. Extreme members Gary Cherone and Pat Badger also contributed.
Nuno also played guitar on a song featured on the CBS series 'How I Met Your Mother', and it is also on the website www.itwasthebestnightever.com.
Nuno is currently the lead guitarist for the R&B artist Rihanna for her Rated R Tour.
In December 1990, Washburn Guitars unveiled the Washburn N4 Nuno Bettencourt Signature Series - a series of Bettencourt-designed guitars which endures today.
The Nuno Bettencourt models are flagshipped by the American hand-made Washburn N4. The Washburn N4 guitar is a small reverse headstock super-strat which features the unique Stephen's Extended Cutaway neck joint for easy access to the higher frets. It also contains Bill Lawrence and Seymour Duncan pickups, and a Floyd Rose licensed tremolo. The production budget model of this guitar which was machine built in Korea is known as the N2 and features a standard bolt-on neck. The N3 was a short run Korean reproduction of the Washburn N4 using Washburn stock pickups. The original N2 and N3 guitars were prototype guitars built for Nuno. The N2 lacking the Stephen's Extended Cutaway and the N3 using a Bill Lawrence L500-R in the neck rather than the Seymour Duncan 59. Other models include The N5 and N6. Nuno has also endorsed several Washburn acoustic models.
Nuno Duarte Gil Mendes Bettencourt (born September 20, 1966) is a Portuguese guitarist and singer-songwriter best known for his role as the lead guitarist of the Boston hard rock band Extreme whose hits include the acoustic ballads "More Than Words" and "Hole Hearted". The songs reached #1 and #4, respectively, on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1991.
He has since recorded a solo project called Schizophonic as well as with bands he founded including Mourning Widows, Population 1, DramaGods, The Satellite Party (headed by Jane's Addiction's former frontman and Lollapalooza co-founder Perry Farrell), and then reunited with Extreme to record new music and tour.
Since 1990, Bettencourt has had his own line of custom guitars designed by Washburn Guitars. His line is known as the N-Series, and is currently promoting the Washburn N4.
As a guitarist and songwriter, Bettencourt draws from an eclectic variety of styles and influences. However, his most prominent work has been in the realm of rock and heavy metal guitar despite his most popular commercial hits being acoustic songs. Bettencourt's technical guitar playing is influenced by many different guitar players who have key attributes in their playing, that have rubbed off on Nuno such as Eddie Van Halen, Al Di Meola and Jimmy Page, while his solos and sense of melody are influenced by Brian May of Queen. He is particularly adept at arpeggios articulated via string-skipping tapping. One of the strongest elements in Nuno's playing is his sense of rhythm, often using a very loose wrist technique to execute fast triplet picking licks to create a funky sound to his rhythm playing and also his use of poly-rhythms to blur bar lines and create a unique sound.
Nuno Bettencourt was born on September 20, 1966 in Praia da Vitória, Terceira, Azores, Portugal, to Ezequiel Mendes Bettencourt and wife Aureolina da Cunha Gil de Ávila. Bettencourt's family, parents and two brothers Luís and Roberto Carlos, moved to Hudson, Mass, when he was four. Bettencourt lived on Main Street in Hudson for 21 years.