Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt Celebrates 25th Anniversary of ‘More Than Words’ Going to No. 1
Turning down the amps and scoring a hit with a lighter-waving ballad is a time-honored rock 'n' roll tradition — and Extreme found the biggest single of their career after unplugging completely for "More Than Words."
Recorded for the band's 1990 Pornograffiti LP, the song made its way to pop radio in the spring of 1991, where it found an immediate and enthusiastic reception. Coupled with a simple black-and-white video depicting the other band members taking a break while singer Gary Cherone and guitarist Nuno Bettencourt harmonized their way through the lilting acoustic ballad, "More Than Words" soared into heavy rotation, making its way to No. 1 in time for Billboard's chart for the week of June 8, 1991.
Like a lot of harder-edged bands who scored a hit with a ballad, Extreme found that "More Than Words" was something of a double-edged success: Even though it introduced their music to millions of fans who wouldn't otherwise have been aware, it also projected an image of the band that wasn't really accurate, and created expectations that proved difficult to follow. The similarly acoustic "Hole Hearted" gave the group another big single from Pornograffiti, but subsequent hits were harder to come by, and by 1996, they were on hiatus.
Happily for fans, the past decade has seen a series of reunions and a new album, 2008's Saudades de Rock. However complicated the "More Than Words" legacy might be, Bettencourt still looks back fondly on the creation of the song he referred to in a new Facebook post as "a little ditty I wrote while sitting out on the porch on a hot summer night."
"That summer night I got off that porch and walked into the house to bang on my partner in crime's bedroom door. Told him we needed lyrics for this strangely melodic but slightly twisted song the universe had delivered me, he went straight to his pen and paper. And in a matter of minutes ... Our little acoustic duet was born," wrote Bettencourt. "Did we know it would touch so many people? Did we know it would be a soundtrack to weddings, proms and loss of virginity? Of course we did. Well, maybe not proms, but definitely loss of virginity."
Read the rest of Bettencourt's tribute to "More Than Words" — and his enduring friendship with Cherone — below, and take a trip back to the summer of 1991 by watching the video above.
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