Proud: Nuno Bettencourt on the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert

On Easter Monday, 20 April 1992, The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness was held at Wembley Stadium. One of the many highlights was seeing Nuno Bettencourt and Extreme perform in front of an audience of 72,000. The show was broadcast live on television and radio to 76 countries worldwide.

Like many, for me, the first time I saw their performance was a life-changing experience. From choosing which songs to include in the Queen medley, to sharing the stage with legendary musicians, how was that whole experience for Nuno Bettencourt?

“That’s still probably one of the top experiences career-wise ever in our lives,” Nuno told MetalTalk. “It’s a miracle. I know the band feels the same way. It was a bittersweet day because we were paying tribute to somebody who passed, who is iconic to us, a hero to us and a big, big influence. So that was kind of sad, but at the same time, it was a proud moment because we were asked to pay tribute to him.

“Brian [May] reached out to us, and we felt super privileged and super honoured. We got into a lot of trouble when we did that medley because we weren’t supposed to do songs that other people were doing later in the night, but we said, you know, fuck it.

“We really felt like we deserved to be there because of the fans that we were of Queen, and not just of the singles, but every deep cut and every inch of every album. Putting that medley together was crazy because, obviously, we could have done so much more. But I think it was one of the best mashups we’d ever done with somebody else’s music.”

I tell Nuno that I thought Extreme stole the show, but that’s just my opinion.

“I’m usually humble,” Nuno smiles, “but I’m going to agree with you. I remember John Deacon came up to us afterwards. He gave me this big hug and said that he was in the car on the way there listening, and he said that it reminded him of when Queen played Wembley at Live Aid.

“He said we stole the show in the sense that we sacrificed the time we had to play our original music to play a true tribute, which didn’t go over well with the record company [laughs].

“We had the chance to play Extreme music to a couple of billion people, and instead, we opted to do a real tribute. Before I get into trouble, there were great performers that day though.

“Everybody from Guns N’ Roses to Def Leppard playing their own music. It was all incredible. It was just that, for us, doing all the Queen tracks was really special.

“The fans let us know, his fans and their fans, let us know that day that that’s what they wanted and that’s what they needed.”

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