Extreme PhotoFORMED: 1987

Although guitarist and band mastermind Nuno Bettencourt's style was derived from Eddie Van Halen, his heart is with the progressive hard rock of Queen, as well as Beatlesque pop and touches of lounge jazz. Consequently, Extreme's music is never easy to classify; it's not just heavy metal, hard rock, or pop -- their albums cover all of that territory, with a sweeping ambition and a social conscious to match.

By the time of their second album, Pornograffiti, Bettencourt was already well-respected in the heavy metal world but it was the Everly Brothers-style acoustic ballad, "More than Words," that crossed them over into the mainstream -- it hit number one and the follow-up single, the acoustic-based pop rocker "Hole Hearted," hit number four. Extreme's third album, Extreme III: Three Sides to Every Story, was an over-ambitious follow-up that sold well at first, but didn't have the staying power of their previous album.

Extreme's fourth album, 1995's Waiting for the Punchline, suffered from a similar lack of sales. The following year, Extreme announced they were breaking up, as Bettencourt went on to launch a solo career issuing the albums Schizophrenic in 1997, Mourning Widows in 1999, and Furnished Souls for Rent in 2000. Cherone went on to front Van Halen for a lone album, 1998's Van Halen III, which was slammed by both the critics and fans alike, resulting in poor sales and Cherone's eventual exit. 2000 saw the release of a 13-track Extreme best-of collection, An Accidental Collision of Atoms. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide