EXTREME (1989–95). Gary Cherone (vocals), Nuno Bettencourt (guitar), Pat Badger (bass), Paul Geary (drums).
Emerging initially as a Van Halen–like power metal band that featured Aerosmith– like funk grooves into their metal mix, Extreme would go on to mine a more laidback and melodic vein, enjoying a string of hits before fading from the scene in the 1990s. Extreme had its roots in the Boston club scene in a band called the Dream. When the CBS network had plans for a television program with a similar title, the Dream sold off their rights to the name and changed their name to Extreme—ex-Dream—get it? With the new name also came a new guitarist, wunderkind Nuno Bettencourt, who joined vocalist Gary Cherone, bassist Pat Badger, and drummer Paul Geary in time for the band’s eponymous debut in 1989.
While not an immediate hit, the band’s supertight rhythm section and Bettencourt’s virtuosic guitar playing—which combined a refined sense of rhythm and melody with the technical dexterity of Yngwie Malmsteen—went a long way toward establishing their credentials with hard rock fans. The band also began to receive limited airplay of their video for the song “Kid Ego” on MTV.
Their breakthrough came with their second album, Pornograffitti, in 1990. The album was more diverse than the band’s debut. While they retained their patented “funky metal” approach to some extent (most notably on the first single, “Get the Funk Out”), they began to incorporate more of their mellower influences. In particular, the second single, “More Than Words,” was acoustic-based and incorporated more jazz-oriented chords. After overcoming record company objections, “More Than Words” became a huge crossover hit for the band, getting to number 1 on the singles chart. The similarly acoustic-based follow-up “Hole-Hearted” got to number 4.
Unfortunately, the band’s success was to be short-lived. After the band’s ambitious III Sides to Every Story (1992) failed to live up to fans’ or critics’ expectations, the band released Waiting for the Punchline in 1995. This album, too, failed commercially, and the band disbanded, with Bettencourt going on to a solo career, and Cherone briefly joining Van Halen for 1998’s Van Halen III.
Discography: Extreme (A&M, 1989); Extreme II: Pornograffitti (A&M, 1990); III Sides to Every Story (A&M, 1992); Waiting for the Punchline (A&M, 1995); An Accidental Collision of Atoms: The Best of Extreme (A&M, 2000); 20th Century Masters—The Millennium Collection: The Best of Extreme (Universal, 2002); Best of Extreme (A&M, 2007).