Rihanna and Nuno Bettencourt

Unless they were alerted through posts by Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt directly, fans were probably shocked to see the ax slinger playing guitar for Rihanna on 'Saturday Night Live' Dec. 5. He's not only making television appearances with her, but is slated to play in her band on her 2010 world tour.

"Hey all ... Nuno here," he began in his statement on his MySpace page. "I wanted to share some news with you ... A friend and music director, Tony Bruno, reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in playing guitar with Rihanna. Rihanna is a regular in the Bettencourt house playlist ... And as much as I dig her as an artist ... my first thought was that there isn't a whole lot of guitar in her music and therefore probably not the greatest fit for what I do."

Bettencourt continued, "But before I had a chance to verbalize that thought ... Tony said, 'Before you say anything let me play you the direction she wants to go live.' And when I heard it ... I said, 'Wow, this rocks ... it's heavy and funky' ... and it hit me that this is my s--- ... this is my style ... how I love to play ... I got very excited at the possibility of playing some of her great songs with a heavier treatment.

"When I asked Tony Bruno why? ... he told me that Rihanna loves bands like Paramore and Linkin Park and loves to push it up a notch or two live in the rock department. Hmmm ... let me think? Touring and sharing the stage with a cool and talented artist like Rihanna ... and being able to bring what I do passionately to the table as a musician and performer? IM IN! And having finished the first round of rehearsals ... it did not disappoint. Even better than what I expected because she also has the most incredible band, and I get the privilege to add to their wall of sound. It's gonna be fun. Come see and hear it for yourself!"

Bettencourt was quick to diffuse any thought that this means Extreme is breaking up. "And BTW ... No ... this is NOT the end of Extreme. We have a live DVD and CD coming out in early 2010 and we will be writing new material throughout the year. We had a great run across the globe on Saudades do Rock ... and we'll be back."

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