Conan O’Brien bid farewell do his longtime house band, most members of which have performed alongside the late-night host for 25 years, on Thursday’s Conan, which also marked the host’s final TBS episode in its standard hour-long format.
“There is one change on the horizon that makes me quite sad,” O’Brien said of Conan’s 2019 shift. “In January, when our show transitions to the new half-hour format, our band will not be with us. Since we began this journey 25 years ago, my band has been a daily source of joy in my life.”
O’Brien added, “These remarkable musicians have given their talent, energy, enthusiasm and incredible showmanship to over 4,000 hours.”
The host then reminisced about the band’s 25-year tenure, from the Max Weinberg 7 era on Late Night With Conan O’Brien to their brief Tonight Show stay to the “Legally Prohibited” Band tour to the formation of the Jimmy Vivino & The Basic Cable Band when Conan came to TBS in November 2010.
Throughout O’Brien’s television journey, the house band’s members – guitarist Vivino, trombonist Richie “LaBamba” Rosenberg, keyboardist Scott Healy, bassist Mike Merritt, trumpeter Mark Pender, multi-instrumentalist Jerry Vivino and, since 2009, percussionist James Wormworth – have been at the host’s side.
Following the tribute, O’Brien gave his usual musical guest spot – another feature that will leave the show in 2019 – to Jimmy Vivino & The Basic Cable Band, who performed a fiery (and perhaps tongue-in-cheek) rendition of Howlin’ Wolf’s blues classic “Killing Floor.”
The “revamped” Conan premieres in January. The late-night show will still air four nights a week, Monday through Thursday, albeit in 30-minute form, allowing O’Brien to also splinter off into digital properties like podcasts.