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NUNO BETTENCOURT On Refusing A Gig With OZZY OSBOURNE: “I Don’t Know What I Was Thinking; I Should Have Done It”


Extreme‘s Nuno Bettencourt, recently revealed a surprising twist in his musical journey. Speaking to Rick Beato, Bettencourt remembered that he once had the chance to join rock royalty – Ozzy Osbourne. In a story filled with teenage ambition and maybe a touch of hindsight-fueled regret, Bettencourt‘s path took a different turn.

Bettencourt, a teenager with dreams of shredding alongside the Prince of Darkness, stumbled upon an audition ad in a magazine in 1983. Armed with borrowed equipment and unbridled enthusiasm, he submitted a cassette tape containing his rendition of Ozzy‘s classic “Crazy Train.”

“The first time I ever played through a proper cab was when the Circus Magazine put out an ad; I think it had come out when Randy passed away unfortunately, and we were all devastated. And I think, at the moment, they were looking for a guitar player… There was like a little cutout thing, like, almost like an ad; ‘Send your tape here, Ozzy looking for a guitar player.'”

“And I’m like, ‘This is my gig! I can do this!’ I’m in this four-family home in Hudson, Massachusetts, and the ad says, I don’t know, ‘Send ‘Crazy Train’ on cassette to this address.’ And I’m all in, man. I call my buddy saying, ‘Can I borrow your Marshall?’, and I put it in my bedroom. I can’t do without a cabinet, and I borrowed a 4×12; I had never played through one before… I also borrowed some harmonizer and I didn’t even know how to run it, and I’m like, ‘That’s it!’,” Nuno remembered.

“I’m playing the song, probably horribly; I’m doing the solo… I didn’t tell anybody. I took the solo, wrote down the address, licked the stamp, brought it to the post office, and I was just like, ‘Okay, now I wait. But I’m getting this gig.'”

However, his youthful ambition wasn’t enough to land him the coveted spot.

“Weeks have gone by, and I’m getting really upset. Then, I read that Brad Gillis is filling in, and I’m like, ‘Oh man, they better not keep him, because this is my gig.’ I believed I was going to do it… I’m waiting, and months have gone by. And then, I heard they got Jake E. Lee. I might have shed a tear because I thought that was my gig.”

Fast forward a decade, to 1993. Bettencourt is now a seasoned musician touring with Extreme. Enter fate, in the form of Extreme‘s booking agent Rod MacSween, who brings Nuno an offer. Ozzy‘s team, impressed by his talent, is offering him the very same guitarist position he once auditioned for – this time without the need for a homemade tape.

“He pulls me out and we’re in a hallway. I’ll never forget this. He’s facing me, and Rod says, ‘Nuno, Sharon Osbourne called me. Ozzy wants you to be his guitarist.’ And then, he says, ‘What do you think?’ And all I could say was, ‘They heard the cassette?’, and he’s like, ‘What are you talking about?’… I was literally thinking about the cassette I sent when I was 12. That’s how much trauma I had.”

Here’s where things get ironic. Bettencourt, loyal to his band and determined to carve his own path, declined the offer. Ironically, just weeks later, Extreme disbanded.

“It finally worked, and I turned it down, because I was in a band, and I was doing my job. And that was the stupidest thing I ever did. Why? Because I left Extreme about two weeks later. I was like, ‘I’m an idiot.’ I could have toured with Ozzy, and been on the next album… Because, playing with Ozzy was almost a rite of passage, like you were the chosen one… If Ozzy chose you, you were somebody… But, I was trying to carve my own path, and be my own person. I don’t know what I was thinking; I should have done it.”

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