The Story of Extreme’s Unexpected Path to Success With ‘Pornograffitti’
Released on Aug. 7, 1990, Extreme's Pornograffitti was subtitled "A Funked Up Fairy Tale" – but you wouldn't have known it from the hit singles.
Whereas most of Pornograffitti focused on the same funk-metal vibe as Extreme's 1989 debut, the group would instead hurtle to the top of Billboard's singles chart with the stripped-down ballad "More Than Words." They'd hit again with "Hole Hearted," a Top 5 single with a similar acoustic bent.
Together, those two tracks helped push Pornograffitti – a concept album focusing on excess in the modern world – to double-platinum sales, Extreme's best-ever showing. But their rapidly expanding fan base was oftentimes arriving with an incomplete picture of who Extreme had always been.
"People who just like that song are not Extreme fans, they just like 'More Than Words,'" guitarist Nuno Bettencourt recalled in a 2014 interview. "That's cool, that's nice, but the actual truth fans know is we're more than that song."
Formed in 1985 by Bettencourt, bassist Pat Badger, singer Gary Cherone and drummer Paul Geary, Extreme released two other, more representative tracks from Pornograffitti. But neither "Decadence Dance" nor "Get the Funk Out" charted. In fact, the highest position Extreme ever achieved again was No. 95, with "Stop the World" from 1992's III Sides to Every Story. To mainstream audiences, they remained too closely associated with ballads.
By 1996, Cherone was taking part in an ill-fated detour with Van Halen. Extreme then began a series of reunions in the early '00s. Cherone, Bettencourt and Badger are currently playing with drummer Kevin Figueiredo, who replaced Geary in 2007. They revisited their most popular album in 2014, when they performed Pornograffitti in its entirety on tour.
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