January 16, 2024

Nuno Bettencourt, who has performed with pop superstar Rihanna for more than a decade, says that he owes an apology to Richard Fortus after exchanging words online with the GUNS N' ROSES guitarist as a result of seemingly taking a swipe at one of his colleagues, GUNS N' ROSES guitarist Slash.

Asked by Classic Rock magazine at which point he regretted posting his comments on Twitter in response to Fortus, Bettencourt said: "Oh, the second I took my finger off the 'send' button. I'm a passionate guy, I've had to learn to take a deep breath, step back, re-read it. I didn't do that. It wasn't actually about Slash himself, but I didn't put it across the right way. I put up a video the next day, saying I owe everyone an apology, that I was immature. Richard was just protecting his boy. I owe him an apology. I'd like to sit down with him and have a beer."

In a July 2023 interview with Planet Rock, the EXTREME guitarist opined that many of the guitar players he looks up to, including Slash, would not be able handle the musical diversity of a Rihanna concert.

"When somebody like Rihanna reaches out to you to perform everybody thinks 'oh, that's cute. It's a pop artist, whatever,'" Bettencourt said. "Let me tell you something, what I had to do night after night… put on a reggae hat [for one song] with a reggae feel, and go into R&B, then go into some punk rock and pop rock that she did, and then club tracks. All sorts of [things], all those different feels.

"I'm sorry, most of the guitar players who I admire could not in their lifetime play that gig," he added. "I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.

"Slash is one of the greatest rock guitar players of all time but I guarantee — and he'd be the first to tell you — that if he jumps up and he's got to play a clean intro to 'Rude Boy' from Rihanna, it ain't happening."

Bettencourt continued: "I believe that if I wasn't that diverse musically and accept everything I grew up on, there's no way that I would have been in these rooms. And also being open, being an open musician in the sense of 'up for anything.'"

A couple of days after Nuno's comments made the rounds in music media, Slash's GUNS N' ROSES bandmate Fortus took to Instagram to share a headline from a article reporting on Bettencourt's words, and he included the following message: "I have to respectfully disagree. @nunobettencourtofficial is one of the greats, for sure. However, there is very little @slash couldn't do on guitar (if he wanted to). I toured with Rihanna prior to Nuno and I've spent a lot of time playing with Slash. This gig wouldn't be a struggle for him."

On July 22, 2023, Nuno took to his social media to clarify his original comments as well as to respond to Richard, who played with Rihanna on her "Good Girl Gone Bad Tour" in 2008 and 2009. Bettencourt wrote: "Welp… I new this was eventually coming.

"You can't be blessed and be on multiple guitar magazine covers at a shocking 56 years old, get this much attention for your playing and new album as a rock guitarist without another guitarist stirring up some shit.

"Im responding to this not cause I give a shit about what this guitarist thinks about me but, instead, because I'd hate to think my few words offended a hero of mine, @slash and possibly fuck up my relationship with him.

"@4tus I've 'respectively' never heard you play one note in my 56 years of being alive and only know your name from the Rihanna camp and as a replacement player in GUNS.

"I'm sure you're a decent player, but did you really need to repost a headline that made me look like I am badmouthing a fellow player, Slash.

"As if I'd ever think Slash isn't capable of playing any Rihanna song in his sleep.

"Let's get something fucking straight. To me, Slash is one of the greatest rock guitarists of my generation and of all time. PERIOD. And @4tus if you knew me at all and where my heart is you'd know that what I meant in this statement was not about Slash or his capability, It was about Rock guitarists like myself or Slash switching genres and the awkwardness of playing these feels.

"No SHIT Slash can play these songs, thank you so much for pointing that out as if we didn't already know that. But for me as a predominant ROCK guitarist, Im obviously not as talented as you and found it a challenge to nail all the different pockets and guitar tones of genres like Reggae, R&B, Electronic Dance, Trap and pop.

"As far as you shining a light on my ridiculous statement that Slash would 'struggle', yes a poor word choice on my part, I personally would hope that Slash who is a peer and influence would be more mature enough to understand what I truly meant as a guitarist by that comment.

"In mentioning Slash as an iconic Rock example, I meant in general a rock guitarist would find it, NOT A STRUGGLE, but feel like a fish out of water as a player. THATS ALL I MEANT.

"I've had NOTHING but respect and admiration for @gunsnroses and @slash.

"Apologies if I've unintentionally offended anyone."

In his nearly five-minute video apology, Bettencourt described the whole ordeal as "ridiculous" and took "full responsibility" for the "stupid shit" he said that launched the entire debate.

Nuno said: "Listen, this little what people are saying there was a spat between Richard Fortus and I and comments that I made and the post that he made and the shit that I said about playing Rihanna, it's ridiculous. I'm not that guy. I don't want to be that guy. I'm not interested in this shit. It actually makes me sick. Last straw, I just got home and I see fuckin [Justin] Hawkins [of THE DARKNESS] is fuckin doing a whole post on it, an episode [on his YouTube channel] and deciphering who said what. This is ridiculous. Bottom line is this is on me. I need to keep my fucking mouth shut.

"I got asked a question about Rihanna, and my answer was ridiculous — absolutely ridiculous. I'll take full responsibility for it about playing it and how hard it was and how difficult it is for people to play different feels. I tried to make a point, and it kind of backfired on me.

"I do a lot of press, and every once in a while you say stupid shit. You get asked a stupid question. So now I'm gonna stick to EXTREME, stick to what I know, stick to what I do on guitar and what I do for EXTREME. That way nobody can fuck with me and be offended and [make] comments. Don't ask me about anybody else. Don't ask me about fucking Rihanna. Don't ask me about Slash or GUNS or Richard Fortus, who I owe an apology to,

"Richard, sorry, brother. This is ridiculous. You had a complete right to defend your bro. And even if it was in the lightest way or whatever it was, you are correct. I don't like hurting people. I don't like talking bad about anybody. And this is all coming from me, from a ridiculous Planet Rock interview, which is when somebody asked me about Rihanna, like I said, I need to shut the fuck up — you know, talking about how difficult it was. I have my own reasons of why I said what I said in the sense of what it meant to me with playing all the different feels, but obviously it came across very arrogant, it came across very offensive. People love this shit and they're feeding off of it and all it does is create bad vibes for everybody in our community, in the guitarist community, when at the end of the day, really, I have much respect for everybody. Everybody's got a lane and everybody's got a place to do what they do. Whether I had heard Richard play before, which I hadn't, it doesn't give me the right to make that comment that I hadn't heard a note he played in my lifetime, even though it was true. But it was [me] being pissed off and I think it was just me pissed off in general that I even started this bullshit. So, apologies again to Richard. He's obviously a great guitar player. He's playing with GUNS. He's gotta be amazing. And, anybody else out there that loves this kind of juicy shit, go fuck yourselves and mind your own fucking business and I'll mind my own fucking business and keep that shit to myself, whatever it is that I feel about how difficult anything is. But, like I said, man, anybody who knows me in the guitar community, all I do is have much respect for everybody that I play with and I stepped out of my lane on this one, for real. And this isn't no ridiculous apology in the sense that I'm backtracking for anything. I actually went back and read what I actually answered, and it was pretty fucking stupid, and I made it way too self-important for that gig. It was really dumb of me to even mention that stuff or especially Slash. I mean, I don't even know why even Slash came out of my mouth during that other than I was just using it as an example of us rock guitar players playing some different feels.

"Other than that, love y'all, fuck y'all, if you know what I mean. And honestly, man, it's ridiculous. Let's stop this bullshit. I hope to have a beer with Richard sometime soon and just have a laugh about it because this is just stupid. It's just ridiculous. We're all great players and there's no need for anybody to be fucking arguing about anything stupid like this. I reacted kind of hot because I probably realized how much of a dumbass I was by saying what I said about Slash and playing with Rihanna."

Nuno most recently shared the stage with Rihanna when the Grammy Award-winning R&B artist took the stage in Phoenix on February 12, 2023 for her Super Bowl halftime performance.

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