Max Weinberg Officially Splits With Conan O'Brien

'They had some good years,' Steve Van Zandt tells 'RS.' Guitarist Jimmy Vivino will lead the band on O'Brien's new TBS show

Max Weinberg
Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank
'Tonight Show' band leader Max Weinberg on June 11th, 2009.
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After months of rumors, it's finally official: Max Weinberg won't be going with Conan O'Brien to Conan's new show on TBS. Guitarist Jimmy Vivino will be leading the house musicians, as he often did when Weinberg took breaks from the show to tour with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. James Wormworth, Weinberg's long-time on-air substitute, will be the group's new full-time drummer. Vivino broke the news in an interview with the St. Louis Riverfront Times. "Max has his big band out there that has been his dream all his life," Vivino said. "And there's a kid in Jersey that works with him occasionally."

E Street Band guitarist Steve Van Zandt tells Rolling Stone that he's not sure what caused the split. "I don't know why Max and Conan aren't together anymore," he says. "But whatever, they had some good years, and Conan gave Max credit for keeping the show on the air for the first two years. That was nice. He was a big fan of the band and he didn't want to mess around with that too much. He was quite good to us over the years."

Weinberg was Conan's bandleader from the very beginning of Late Night With Conan O'Brien in 1993, though he would take frequent breaks after Springsteen reunited with the E Street Band in 1999. Weinberg continued the role during Conan's ill-fated stint as the host of The Tonight Show, but was the only member of the band to not go on the "Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television" tour earlier this year. Instead, he formed the Max Weinberg Big Band and went on his own tour. When Rolling Stone asked about his future with Conan in June, he played coy. "I literally have not thought about it," he said. "There have been no discussions. It's kind of an open question."

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