Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt discussed playing a Queen medley at the Freddie Mercury Tribute in 1992, angering Brian May. Extreme features Van Halen’s third singer Gary Cherone.
He told Kylie Olsson, “Yeah, we did a medley, got in trouble, we got in trouble for doing it because we were supposed to… Brian [May] asked us to play, to be Extreme. Metallica went on, and then we all went on, it was like us, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard…
“So we were just like, ‘This is amazing,’ and what do we do as Queen fans? I just had a massive surgery, I’m wearing a brace, I’m in a studio in Florida, and me and Gary [Cherone, vocals] have this idea- I’m like, ‘F*** doing our own show, let’s pay a real tribute. We’re real Queen fans, let’s do what we want to do for Freddie, and let’s put this little medley together.’
“So yeah, we’re rehearsing in a recording studio through the glass in the control room in different places, trying to work this thing out, the rest of the band all thinks we’re crazy, but we’re nailing it, we’re doing it.
“When we look back, we think about it- imagine going in front of not just Wembley Stadium sold out, which is enough, but the millions of people, whoever’s watching [on TV], and doing something that’s not even yours and that you’ve never done live, and you’re gonna do it now, like, what is wrong with you?
“Like, the chances of us f**king that up are pretty good considering we only rehearsed it for about a few days before or a week and on in between recording.
“When we told Brian, we wanted to tell Brian – and Brian is, if you look up in the dictionary and you look at the kindest human being on the planet, it would be a picture of Brian.
“And when we told him, it was the first and last time I’ve ever argued with him. He was upset that we weren’t doing us, that we were doing Queen. He was like, ‘I want you guys to celebrate all these bands here,’ because then there was a place to do Queen if you remember at the end with all the heavyweights, the singers come up and do songs with the band, Queen.
“So we were going against the rules, so to speak, and we were also doing a few of them that were in there at the end, which is a super no-no to do, and when we told him that, I wanted to tell him upfront, not just blindside him.
“He was so adamant about us not doing it, and please do what you guys do – and we weren’t even doing ‘More Than Words,’ nothing.
“He finally said, ‘Look, this is your slot, you guys do what you want to do.’ He wasn’t very happy with it, but he gave us the blessing, and we went up, and we don’t regret it, it was amazing, it was what those fans wanted to hear, I believe.
“It was a true celebration of Freddie, and we were OK with doing it until 10 seconds before we did it, and then we kind of shot ourselves, thanks to Brian, and Brian went up, he introduced us. And he said that f**king sentence, and we were like, ‘OK, he’s going to go up.’
“And he goes, ‘These are real friends, and possibly the only band on this planet who truly knew what Queen is about and what Freddie was about.’ When he said that… the responsibility that happened, all of a sudden, instead of just going and playing this thing, the responsibility of that, like, my hairs on my arms were raising.
“I’m like, ‘Did he just say that?’ And I was scared shitless at the same time. He just put that on us, he basically said, ‘Alright f**kers, you want to go up and pay tribute to Freddie and you think you can do this? Go for it.’
“We were obsessed with Queen, we used to have conversations with Brian about deep cuts and deep tracks, he was like, ‘Wait a second – what?’ We’d sing the whole front to back without stopping, acapella of ‘Queen II,’ the black side, he’d be like, ‘How do you know this?’
“And he knew when I interviewed him, I got to meet him when I interviewed him for a guitar magazine, they wanted to do kind of a young and up-and-coming interviewing one of his legends, we were supposed to talk for 45 minutes.
“And you can tell – I don’t shut the f*** up. We talked for almost two hours about just the albums and the deep cuts. We talked for almost two hours about just the albums and the deep cuts. He was like, ‘Oh, I forgot about that…’ And that part and that guitar solo, and that sound…
“So, he knew, what he said was correct, I’m not a f**king cocky bragging human being, but he was right, and that’s why we did that. We did that because it was in our hearts.
“It wasn’t to show off, it wasn’t to do that, it was really what we wanted to give back to Freddie. We wanted to do it for Freddie, we wanted to do it to show them like, ‘This is how we think about, this is how much we love you.'” Ultimate-Guitar transcribed his remarks.