"Every note that I ever played, every chord change I ever did was learned in this house": An emotional Nuno Bettencourt revisits the childhood home where he wrote Extreme's More Than Words

Nuno Bettencourt and Kylie Olsson
(Image credit: Kylie Olsson / YouTube)

The latest episode of Kylie Olsson's interview series Life In Six Strings finds Nuno Bettencourt revisiting Hudson in Massachusetts – where he grew up as the youngest of ten children in a Portuguese family. It's an insight into where Nuno is coming from as a musician – and it's emotional. 

The Extreme guitarist takes Olsson back to his old childhood home and the bedroom where he wrote More Than Words and other key songs. But before he even steps into the kitchen he's visibly choked up. The memories are overwhelming – Nuno's mother has since passed away. 

Anything that was important – the first 20 years of your life, it's all here

"Everything happened here," he reflects. "Anything that was important – the first 20 years of your life, it's all here. Anything that shapes you – family stuff, the good, the bad and the ugly – all of it. It's not just a bed of roses… wow."

It's a moment of genuine reflection for the guitarist. "It was mayhem, but in a really amazing way," Nuno remembers of the house filled with his brothers and sisters growing up. "It was heaven in that you were never alone – in a good way. And everything that we did with family, whether it was eating together, a party or it was Christmas, jams… I didn't realise how lucky I was with the music."

Nuno came from a musical family with "instruments everywhere". 

"There was a Fender Rhodes there," he remembers of the living room. "And sometimes a drum kit in the corner, then there were guitars everywhere. That seemed like normal furniture. So there was always somebody playing music somewhere."

Nuno shared his bedroom with three siblings, and was exposed to new music through his older brothers and sisters. It was an education with "Van Halen 1 coming from one brothers' bedroom and walking and hearing Joe Cocker in another one and hearing the Bee Gees down here and The Beatles elsewhere. There was an array, a generational wealth of music happening that I learned from and I sponged. I'd wait for my brothers and sisters to leave to start going into their record collection, start putting of stuff like Zep IV and Van Halen I and just be like, 'Wow – what is this?'

"That's where it all started and why it's so important – this was my university, this is where I learned everything. Every note that I ever played, every chord change I ever did was learned in this house. Period."

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Neil Lupin/Redferns via Getty Images

(Image credit: Neil Lupin/Redferns via Getty Images)

Nuno Bettencourt tells the story of Extreme's More Than Words

The basement still has the 'Extreme rulz' graffiti Nuno sprayed on the wall. "There's not one thing that's changed here," he marvels.  And when he goes back to his old bedroom the memories become even more vivid.

"This bedroom here is where everything happened guitar-wise," he reveals. "It's where I became a guitar player – started playing guitar. It's so funny, post-Pornograffiti I was still here. I remember writing Midnight Express right on the edge of that bed over there. I had a record player over there with a cassette player in the corner when I was learning everything. I would just sit here for days. I remember my mom at the bottom of the stairs screaming at me to come down and eat – 'Yeah, yeah I'll be right down' and then another six hours would go by. I wouldn't sleep – all I did was play.

Nuno's dedication to guitar meant he missed the high school parties of his teenage years. "I was shy," he reveals. "I didn't know anybody. I had the same two, three people that were friends in junior high. They were musicians and the most I'd leave this house for was to play sports."

Journalist, author and director Olsson then recounts how her first attempt at learning guitar as a 19-year-old stumbled when the person attempting to teach her Extreme's More Than Words claimed she had no ability. Charming. So who better than Nuno to put that right with a lesson in the house where he wrote the song. 

Check the full episode above and watch more Life In Six Strings episodes at Kylie Olsson's YouTube channel.  

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.