For almost 18 years, from the 1993 debut of Late Night With Conan O’Brien until the bitter end of O’Brien’s The Tonight Show run in 2010, drummer Max Weinberg was a constant presence alongside the late night host – at least when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band weren’t on tour.
However, Weinberg chose not to join Conan as it jumped to TBS, and the Max Weinberg 7 became Jimmy Vivino and the Basic Cable Band. That is, until Tuesday night, as the late-night host and his former band leader reunited for the first time in nearly five years.
During his monologue, O’Brien noted that Basic Cable Band drummer James Wormworth was missing from his kit. It turns out he fell deep into “the old abandoned mine” and is “probably dead.” A panicked O’Brien yells to the audience, “We need a drummer now!” That’s when Weinberg, sitting casually in the crowd, drumsticks already on his lap, tells the host, “Oh, I can play the drums.” The old Late Night pals hugged before Weinberg leapt back behind the drums with his other longtime bandmates, not missing a beat.
It’s unclear how long Wormworth will be “dead” for, but Weinberg’s visit was likely just for one night. (Wormworth was previously the Late Night fill-in whenever Weinberg embarked on a Springsteen tour.) According to the Hollywood Reporter, Weinberg did make an onstage appearance during the New York stop of O’Brien’s between-jobs Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television tour in 2010, but this is the first time the two had been reunited on air.
“I don’t know why Max and Conan aren’t together anymore,” E Street guitarist Steven Van Zandt told Rolling Stone after it was revealed that Weinberg was permanently leaving Conan’s house band. “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.”
As an added bonus on Wednesday night’s Conan, Beck stopped by again for the second time in two months, but instead of playing a George Harrison favorite, he treated the crowd to a riveting performance of Morning Phase closer “Waking Light.”