Foo Fighters, David Letterman‘s favorite band, appeared on the final episode of the host’s Late Show to deliver a fiery, emotional and extended rendition of the band’s 1997 single “Everlong.” The band once performed the song, by request, after Letterman’s open-heart surgery in 2000. And on Wednesday night Dave Grohl and his outfit once again broke out their anthem at the Ed Sullivan Theatre to soundtrack the finale’s epic montage, a rapid-fire series of clips featuring hundreds of Late Show highlights. Even as the elongated “Everlong” cruised past the six-minute barrier well after the show had already broken its 12:35 a.m. curfew, it still wasn’t enough time to package all of Letterman’s greatest moments.
Dressed in all tuxedos, Foo Fighters were on screen for roughly 40 seconds before the powerful clips package began to roll, kicking off with the opening credits to Late Night With David Letterman and Larry “Bud” Melman’s ghoulish “Good evening” from Dave’s first ever late-night episode. A tidal wave of highlights soon followed in chronological or thematic order: countless appearances by Bill Murray, Late Show‘s best gags and second bananas, classic moments like Drew Barrymore’s desk dance and Jerry Lawler slapping Andy Kaufman, and remembrances of the show’s favorites who have passed, like Melman, Warren Zevon and Johnny Carson.
In his introduction to the Foo Fighters Wednesday, Letterman recounted the time when, following his quintuple bypass surgery and five-week recovery in 2000, he asked his talent coordinator to book the band for his comeback show, since their “Everlong” helped him through his recovery. However, Foo Fighters had already scheduled a South American tour, but as Letterman told his viewers – and as Grohl confirmed to Rolling Stone – they cancelled their tour in order to appear on that special Late Show episode.
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“When we found out [Letterman] actually liked our music, that he actually was a fan, I was really blown away,” Grohl told Rolling Stone. “When he came back from his open-heart surgery, they requested that we play our song ‘Everlong’ because that was his favorite song. And we fucking dropped everything – I think we even cancelled a tour. We just felt like we had to be there. Not only was it an honor to be asked, but it felt like something we had to do – because he had always meant so much to us. And that started this connection that we’ve had for years. It’s fucking cool, you know?”