Nuno Bettencourt Reveals the Challenges of Playing Guitar for Rihanna, Dispelling Misconceptions

Nuno Bettencourt, an exceptional guitar hero, emphasizes that assuming playing guitar for pop stars is an easy job is entirely mistaken. He sheds light on the challenges and complexities involved in this role, debunking the misconception that it’s a simple and straightforward gig.

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Nuno Bettencourt, renowned as the lead guitarist of Extreme, has also earned recognition as the guitar player for pop icon Rihanna since 2009. Despite his rock background, he confirms that performing with Rihanna poses its own set of challenges, proving that it’s far from an easier way to make a living than his “day job.”

Bettencourt reveals that playing guitar in Rihanna’s live band demands versatility and adaptability. Night after night, he navigates through various genres and styles, such as reggae, R&B, punk rock, pop rock, and club tracks. Switching between these different musical feels requires precision and skill, making it evident that being part of a major pop show involves much more complexity than meets the eye.

Despite any initial assumptions that playing for a pop artist might be a simpler endeavor, Bettencourt’s experience serves as a reminder that it demands talent, dedication, and the ability to seamlessly transition between diverse musical elements.

Nuno Bettencourt holds immense respect for the guitar players he admires, but he firmly believes that many of them would find it challenging to tackle the demands of playing guitar for Rihanna. He clarifies that this statement is a compliment to Rihanna’s diverse and intricate musical style.

Using Slash as an example, one of the greatest rock guitar players of all time, Bettencourt asserts that even someone of Slash’s caliber would face difficulties playing a clean intro to Rihanna’s song “Rude Boy.” The gig requires a unique skill set and adaptability to seamlessly switch between different musical genres.

Bettencourt’s remarks highlight the complexity and versatility involved in performing with Rihanna, reaffirming that it demands a different set of skills than traditional rock guitar playing.

In a 2016 interview with Classic Rock, Nuno Bettencourt emphasized the importance of self-confidence for success in the music industry, especially as a guitar player. He expressed that no matter how skilled a guitarist or songwriter one might be, having the belief that they can achieve greatness and even surpass their idols is crucial in this competitive business.

Bettencourt clarified that this self-belief is not about having an egotistical attitude, but rather about recognizing that what one is creating is special and unique. If an aspiring musician lacks the conviction that their work is exceptional, they may struggle to make significant strides in the industry. Bettencourt urged artists to be passionate about their craft and have a relentless desire to succeed. Comparing musical abilities to a competition, he reminded musicians that it’s not about playing better than others but about expressing their passion and dedication to their artistry.