July 9, 2008
By David Huff
Extreme - Rocklahoma 2008 - July 9-13
Taking It To The Extreme
Extreme has had a rather unusual musical history. The foundation of the band was formed in 1979 when vocalist Gary Cherone and drummer friend Paul Geary, along with guitarist Matt McKay, formed a hard-rock band called Adrenalin. Two years later, the group was renamed The Dream. A few years later, Cherone and The Dream appeared on the early MTV program Basement Tapes, a show in which the viewing audience voted (via toll-free telephone number) for one of two competing amateur music videos submitted by unsigned artists. The Dream ended up winning the Basement Tapes contest for the video “Mutha, Don’t Wanna Go to School Today”. They beat out a then-unknown Henry Lee Summer by just 1% of the total vote.
In 1985, a local television station bought the rights to The Dream name. Extreme was born. Later that year, Cherone and Geary would meet guitarist Nuno Bettencourt and bassist Pat Badger in an altercation over a dressing room. The rivals, however, soon became collaborators and combined their collective talents under the Extreme banner. The foursome gradually developed a strong local following in the Boston area and was named “Outstanding Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Act” at the Boston Music Awards in 1986 and 1987. The following year, A&M signed the group. Their self-titled debut was issued to the public in 1989. The final track on the album, “Play with Me,” was used as the “mall chase” song in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Nuno Bettencourt’s guitar style may have been derived from Eddie Van Halen, but his heart was with the progressive hard rock sound of Brian May’s Queen. Already well-respected in the heavy metal world, Bettencourt was all over the map with Extreme. The musical landscape the group created saw the guitar virtuoso cover everything from heavy metal to hard rock to pop. By the time the group’s second album, Extreme II: Pornograffitti was released, it would be his playing on the Everly Brothers style acoustic ballad, “More Than Words,” that surprisingly had the most impact. The song was a smash hit for Extreme, topping the Billboard charts. The follow-up single, another catchy acoustic-based pop rocker, “Hole-Hearted,” was a Top Five hit. Needless to say, Pornografitti was a multi-platinum hit. Their third album, Extreme III: Three Sides to Every Story, was an over-ambitious follow-up that sold well at first, but didn’t have the staying power of their previous album. Extreme’s fourth album, 1995’s Waiting for the Punchline, suffered from a similar lack of sales. The following year, Extreme announced they were parting ways. Bettencourt went on to launch a solo career – issuing the albums Schizophrenic in 1997, Mourning Widows in 1999 and Furnished Souls for Rent in 2000. Cherone ill-advisedly went on to front Van Halen for a lone album, 1998’s Van Halen III.
After his departure from Van Halen, Cherone returned to Boston and put together a new project, Tribe of Judah. The singer also had a brief run with the band Mr. Big, and on occasion, has appeared with Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony during their The Other Half performances. In 2005, the singer released a four song sampler CD, Need I Say More. In May 2006, Gary sang in three shows as part of Amazing Journey, a tribute to The Who created by Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, featuring Paul Gilbert on guitar and Billy Sheehan on bass. Not long after, Gary and his brother Markus Cherone created their own tribute to The Who, Slip Kid. Presently the band continues to perform regularly in the Greater Boston area.
Extreme reformed for a short tour in 2004, playing in their hometown Boston at the WAAF anniversary and a few concerts in Japan and Azores. After no activity at all in most of 2005, the band returned in 2006 – with the “classic” Pornograffitti line-up – to do a small three-show reunion tour in New England. On November 26, 2007, the band announced their plans for a world tour in summer 2008 with King’s X with Kevin Figueiredo, who played with Bettencourt in DramaGods, taking over drum duties. Original drummer Paul Geary is managing the band.
Gary Cherone - lead vocals
Nuno Bettencourt - lead & rhythm guitars & co vocals
Pat Badger - bass
Kevin Figueiredo - drums
Record Label: Open E Records