Conan O'Brien spent his first evening at the Tonight Show desk yesterday, kicking off his run as the show's host by quizzing Will Ferrell about L.A. culture, taking over a tram on the Universal Studios tour and bringing back onetime sidekick Andy Richter as announcer. But the highlight of the show was definitely a special appearance by Pearl Jam, a band known for its longtime relationship with former Tonight host Jay Leno's rival, David Letterman. The White Stripes performed on Conan's final Late Night show in February.
"Launching a show like this takes a lot of hard work and one of the things that has sustained me over the past three months was knowing that at the end of our first show I'd get to watch a performance by one of the greatest rock bands in the world," O'Brien said. Announcing they were playing the "world premiere of a song from their forthcoming album, Backspacer" while holding up cover art featuring a human head and torso split down the middle with one half's insides exposed, Conan introduced Pearl Jam, who immediately kicked into a new track featuring heavy, layered guitar work and some major Matt Cameron drum fills. Eddie Vedder's vocals were a bit low in the mix, so it was difficult to discern the song's lyrics, but Conan's Tonight Show official Website indicates the name is "Get Some." The band's reps have since told RS the song title is actually "Got Some."
"This Modern World" comic strip author and artist Tom Tomorrow posted on his Website that he has been working on Pearl Jam's album artwork, and that Conan showed off a part of a larger whole.
Yesterday, Billboard confirmed that Backspacer — the band's Brendan O'Brien-produced autumn LP — would be sold via a combination of deals including a retail partnership with Target. The now label-free Pearl Jam is also close to finalizing deals with an online vendor, a gaming company, a mobile partner and a network of indie retailers according to their longtime manager Kelly Curtis.
Backspacer was also the name of the 375-kilogram female sea turtle Pearl Jam sponsored in the Great Turtle Race, an April event that tracked 11 leatherbacks traveling from Canada to the Caribbean to lay their eggs. The competition (which lasted two weeks and was tracked online) raised money for Conservation International, a group that seeks to find a balance between humans and nature. Backspacer came in first place, beating R.E.M.'s Nightswimmer.
• Jay Leno: "Conan O'Brien Doesn't Need My Advice"
• Pearl Jam Play Secret Seattle Show for Target Ad as Band Strikes Deals for New Release
• White Stripes' Final Late Night Gig: Conan O'Brien on Special Relationship With Jack and Meg
To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here
MUSIC 9 Classic Devo Videos
OLYMPICS 18 Epic Opening Ceremonies