When Van Halen Told Bettencourt to Stop Playing ‘Silly Stuff’
Nuno Bettencourt recalled how Eddie Van Halen told him to stop playing “silly stuff” when they first met.
The pair encountered each other around 1991, while the Extreme guitarist was working on Dweezil Zappa’s Confessions album. Van Halen’s comment proved to Bettencourt that his hero not only knew who he was, but that he kept up to date with what other rock musicians were doing.
“[He] handed me his guitar and said, ‘You’ve gotta check out this pedal,’” Bettencourt told Guitar World in a recent interview. “And it’s like, ‘You want me to play while I check out this pedal?’ So now Eddie is leaning in front of me, dialing in stuff on his pedalboard. And what do you do when the alien who walked off the spaceship that changed your life is in front of you? What do you play? Like an idiot, I kicked into the solo from [Extreme track] 'Get the Funk Out'. I became a cover of myself.”
He continued: “But the second I go into the tapping part, Eddie turns around and stops me. He goes, ‘Hey, hey, none of that silly stuff.’ That scared the shit out of me. It took me a minute and then I said to myself, ‘He knows who I am. He reads.’”
The reason he came to that conclusion was because he’d recently discussed “Get the Funk Out” with an interviewer, telling him: “I feel silly when I do tapping. Not because it’s embarrassing, but because it’s so Eddie.’” But he had to be certain that Van Halen’s comment had referred to the interview. “Later on, after I got comfortable around Eddie, I asked him, 'Did you read that article?' And he said, 'Yeah, I read that.' I was like, 'Wow, Eddie Van Halen read an interview I did!' Even that shit seemed impossible to me."
Bettencourt described Fair Warning as his favorite Van Halen album, noting: “That ‘Mean Street’ intro isn’t just tapping, it’s this banging kind of thing. And then ‘Dirty Movies’? That was it. It was like the moment when Keanu Reeves sees the matrix. I went, ‘Okay, Eddie is talking to me.’”