Gary Cherone (b. Gary Francis Caine Cherone, July 26, 1961, Malden, Massachusetts) is an American rock vocalist and recording artist. He is best known for his work with the rock group Extreme, as well as his short stint as the lead singer for Van Halen on the Van Halen 3 album and subsequent tour. In recent years he has released solo recordings.
In 1985, Cherone and Geary met guitarist Nuno Bettencourt and bassist Pat Badger in an altercation over a dressing room, but the rivals soon became collaborators and shortly after the combined foursome took the name Extreme, and began writing their own material. By the late 1980s, the group had attracted a large regional following; in 1987, the band signed with A&M Records, which released their self-titled debut album in 1989. Over 250 thousand sales of the band's debut album justified a second, and in 1990 the band recorded the critically-acclaimed Extreme II: Pornograffiti, a fiery mix of hard rock, funk, and pop propelled by Bettencourt's extraordinary guitar playing. The album's lyrical content, mostly written by Cherone, was loosely based on the concept of a fictional young boy named "Francis" and his observations of a decadent, corrupt, and misogynistic society.
Although well received by the rock press, initial sales and chart success for the album were sluggish until A&M released the acoustic ballad "More Than Words" in the early spring of 1991. The song was picked up by mainstream radio and became a huge smash, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 that summer. Extreme II: Pornograffiti was eventually certified quadruple platinum and remains a notable entry in the genre. Also in 1991, Extreme toured in support of David Lee Roth. This was ironic, given that later when Van Halen worked with Roth again, Cherone would be his immediate replacement.
Cherone's career came full circle in April 1992 when he performed Hammer to Fall onstage with the three surviving members of Queen in The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert at Wembley Stadium. Later that year, Extreme released III Sides To Every Story, a concept album known by the band as their finest work. This album marked the pinnacle of the band's creative ability as a whole.
As the decade progressed, the sudden popularity of grunge music brought about a sea change in the pop music industry, causing a massive decline in the popularity of bands who were perceived as having an over-produced look and/or sound. In response, Extreme's 1995 recording, Waiting for the Punchline, was a stripped-down and cynical affair that was only modestly successful. After the supporting tour, Bettencourt became dissatisfied and left the group to launch a solo career. Extreme officially folded almost immediately afterward.