Extreme was an American funk metal / glam metal / hard rock band which achieved popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Some of Extreme's influences, Queen and Van Halen, are easily apparent from their music's multi-part vocal harmonies and electric guitar tone and virtuoso techniques. Being asked about their style, Extreme categorized their music as 'Funky Metal'.
Extreme was formed in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1985. Vocalist Gary Cherone was in a band with drummer Paul Geary, whilst guitarist Nuno Bettencourt was in a band with bassist Pat Badger. Following an altercation between the rival groups over communal dressing rooms Cherone, Geary, Bettencourt, and Badger decided to form a new band.
Cherone and Bettencourt began writing songs together and played numerous shows in the Boston area. The band gradually developed a strong local following, and was named "Outstanding Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Act" at the Boston Music Awards in 1986 and 1987.
The band had accumulated approximately 55 songs by the time A&R director Bryan Huttenhower signed them to A&M Records. In 1988, the band signed to A&M Records and recorded their self-titled debut which was issued in 1989. The first single was "Kid Ego," a song that Cherone would later admit made him cringe. The final track on the album, "Play With Me," was used as the "mall chase" song in "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure."
Moderate sales of Extreme's first record were sufficient to support a second release. Michael Wagener, who had previously worked with Dokken and White Lion, was engaged to produce Extreme II: Pornograffiti (1990).
The record, which showcased Bettencourt's extraordinary guitar-playing prowess, was an ambitious and complex mixture of funk, pop and glam metal sounds. It revolved around a loose concept, following the path of young boy Francis as he wandered through a decadent, degraded and corrupt society. "Decadence Dance" and "Get the Funk Out" were released as singles. "Get The Funk Out" reached number 19 in the UK charts in June 1991. Neither single was successful in the United States, however, and the album had fallen off the charts when A&M sent the third single to a number of radio stations in Arizona.
The acoustic ballad "More Than Words" entered the Hot 100 on March 23, 1991, at Number 81. It later became a huge smash, hitting Number 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 in the United States. The subsequent single, "Hole Hearted," another acoustic and sweetly-sung tune, was also successful, rising to Number 4 on the same popular music chart.
Extreme was one of the many bands to receive diminished attention from music fans and the recording industry when musical tastes changed in a rush following the release of Nevermind by Nirvana.
The band began recording of their third album in 1992. Their appearance at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in April 1992 interrupted the recording sessions, but it gave the band considerable exposure beyond the heavy metal fraternity.
III Sides to Every Story, a complex, eclectic and ambitious concept album, was released on September 22, 1992. Sales were disappointing despite the record receiving critical acclaim from some quarters. The video for the first single, "Rest in Peace," was inspired by a film short by the National Film Board of Canada called "Love Thy Neighbour." The band was sued, but they quickly settled out of court, later releasing a new version of the film clip. The album contained noticeable Christian themes, presumably put there by Cherone, who noted in interviews being interested in evangelical preachers and thought.
Prior to the band's appearance at the Donington Festival in the summer of 1994, Mike Mangini (ex-Annihilator) replaced Geary on drums.
The subsequent record Waiting for the Punchline, released on February 7, 1995, containing the singles "Hip Today," "Unconditionally," and "Cynical," was even less successful than III Sides to Every Story.
Extreme disbanded in 1996. Finally, in 1997, Gary Cherone joined with Van Halen for their album called Van Halen 3, issued in 1998, and he left Van Halen in 1999 and formed Tribe of Judah who released an album called Exit Elvis in 2002. He is currently working on solo material to follow up to his 2005 EP released under his own name.
Nuno Bettencourt went on to release a solo album titled Schizophonic in 1996. Then formed a group called Mourning Widows and released a self titled album in 1998 and then the follow up album Furnished Souls For Rent in 2000. His current group called The Dramagods (aka Population 1) have had two albums released, the first being a self titled album Population 1 in 2002 before a name change to Dramagods seen them create their follow up Love in 2005.
A 13-track Extreme "best-of" collection, An Accidental Collocation of Atoms, was released in 1998. A re-packaged collection with a different tracklisting was also released in 2002 and was simply titled Extreme - The Collection
The band reformed for a short tour in 2004, playing in their hometown Boston at the WAAF anniversary and a few concerts in Japan. They again reformed in 2006 to do a small three-show reunion tour in New England.
The following were all released on the A&M Records label.