Nuno Bettencourt, who has performed with pop superstar Rihanna for more than a decade, has clarified his recent comments in which he seemingly took a swipe at one of his colleagues, GUNS N' ROSES guitarist Slash.
In a recent 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 Richard Fortus took to Instagram to share a headline from a Guitar.com 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."
Late Saturday night (July 22),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."
Nuno most recently shared the stage with Rihanna when the Grammy Award-winning R&B artist took the stage in Phoenix on February 12 for her 2023 Super Bowl halftime performance.