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The Max Weinberg 7: Wikis


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Max Weinberg and the Tonight Show Band
Origin New York, New York, USA
Genres House band
Years active 1993–2009 (as The Max Weinberg 7)
Labels Hip-O Records (as The Max Weinberg 7)
Max Weinberg, Jimmy Vivino, Richie "LaBamba" Rosenberg, Jerry Vivino, Mark Pender, Scott Healy, Mike Merritt, James Wormworth

Max Weinberg and The Tonight Show Band is the house band of the television show The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. The group previously played under the name The Max Weinberg 7 when it was the house band for Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Drummer Max Weinberg is the group's leader.

During The Max Weinberg 7 days, the band included Jimmy Vivino on guitar, Richie "LaBamba" Rosenberg on trombone, Scott Healy on keyboard, Mike Merritt on bass guitar, Mark "Love Man" Pender on trumpet and acoustic guitar, and Jimmy's older brother Jerry Vivino on woodwinds. When the group moved to Los Angeles to play for The Tonight Show, they added an eighth member, James Wormworth, on percussion.[1] Wormworth substitutes for Weinberg when he tours with Bruce Springsteen.




The Max Weinberg 7

Weinberg was the drummer for Bruce Springsteen as a member of the E Street Band until its dissolution in 1989. Weinberg returned to school, but soon desired to resume drumming. He auditioned to be the principal drummer for the Broadway show Tommy, but was selected only as the second alternate substitute percussionist. That night, Weinberg had a chance sidewalk meeting outside Carnegie Deli with newly selected Late Night host Conan O'Brien, where Weinberg spoke about his ideas for music on the show. O'Brien agreed to give Weinberg an audition as bandleader for his forthcoming show. Weinberg quickly put together The Max Weinberg 7, recruiting musicians he had worked with during his career, and got the job.

Rosenberg and Pender had played with The Miami Horns, and had a long joint history with Weinberg from touring or recording together with Springsteen, Southside Johnny, Little Steven, Gary U.S. Bonds, and Darlene Love. In the early 1990s Weinberg and Pender were also in a band together called Killer Joe, which also featured Jimmy and Jerry Vivino. The Vivino brothers were experienced New York session musicians and had been members of various Broadway pit bands. They recruited the final two members of the band, Healy and Merritt, who had played together in various bands such as Jimmy Vivino & The Black Italians and The Vivino Brothers Band. Fill-in James Wormworth was also a member of those bands.

Members of the band have participated in skits on Late Night, particularly fedoraed LaBamba—who rarely speaks on air and is often the punchline of O'Brien's jokes—and bald, bespectacled Mark Pender, who will often sing a tribute to one of the show's guests only to invariably launch into hysterical shrieking as he climbs the scaffolding of the studio's seating area. Pender was also told by Conan to imitate soccer player Zinedine Zidane's famous World Cup headbutt due to both Pender and Zidane's lack of hair. Conan would tease Wormworth because he drummed barefoot.

Max is often involved in short, awkward, and/or humorous banter with Conan. Rosenberg and Weinberg are the two most frequently singled out members of the band. O'Brien often makes jokes about Weinberg's supposedly perverse sexual habits. Rosenberg is often the butt of jokes for both his healthy sized mustache and his often awkward demeanor on air, and his sexual orientation is often questioned by O'Brien through monologue jokes and other comedy bits. O'Brien often has Rosenberg participate in potentially humiliating skits, such as dressing up his mustache in Christmas lights, or shaving it off. Additionally, Rosenberg provides the falsetto interludes for the regular skit "In the Year 3000". A noted incident of ridicule occurred in 2007 when the camera, which had unexpectedly cut to the band for a reaction shot, caught LaBamba consulting his sheet music with a somewhat puzzled look on his face. This caused Conan to draw attention to Rosenberg's goof, and to claim that LaBamba could not read music. While others, Scott Healy, Jerry and Jimmy Vivino brothers, and Mike Merritt are rarely used in sketches, although Mike Merritt takes part in sketches where Conan talks about race, to which Mike's voice-over is used often ridiculing Conan's lack of knowledge about African-American culture and his own "abnormally" pale complexion.

The show often features a performance by a musical guest (a band or a solo artist) at the end, and some or even all members of The Max Weinberg 7 perform as backup musicians for the guests when needed, such as Max performing the drums for the last half of the Death from Above 1979 song, "Romantic Rights" while singer and drummer Sebastien Grainger stands on the bass drum.

Weinberg has, in the past, taken long leaves of absence to tour with the E Street Band. During his absences, he has typically been replaced by James Wormworth, and the band is led by Jimmy Vivino, then referred to as "Jimmy Vivino and The Max Weinberg 7".

The band plays an eclectic selection of music on the show, including frequent performances of songs by The Clash, one of Conan's favorite bands. Examples of songs by The Clash performed by the group include "Police on my Back", "The Magnificent Seven", "Rock the Casbah", "Spanish Bombs" and "Train in Vain".

The band will often play a song to match a holiday or event ("My Funny Valentine" on Valentine's Day), or sometimes play a song that is irrelevant to the event, causing O'Brien to question their choice of song ("Paint It Black" during Christmas).

The band's song "R.C.4" featured in the film Bewitched (2005).

Members of the band performed with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Super Bowl XLIII.

Max Weinberg and The Tonight Show Band

When Conan O'Brien relocated to Los Angeles to become host of The Tonight Show, The Max Weinberg 7 relocated with him, and added an eighth member, James Wormworth, on percussion.[1] Jimmy Vivino and Weinberg reworked the Late Night theme into a "less manic" The Tonight Show theme.[2] The backdrop used for the bandstand depicts the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building set within a Los Angeles skyline, in recognition of the Late Night roots.[2]

As part of his preparation for the move, Weinberg consulted with Doc Severinsen, the Tonight Show band leader during the Johnny Carson days.[1]

As was the case on Late Night, Weinberg will temporarily leave the Tonight Show on occasion to tour with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Jimmy Vivino takes over as bandleader in this instance, and Wormworth moves over to drums. Ronnie Gutierrez is also brought in to cover for Wormworth on percussion. In the open, announcer Andy Richter will refer to the group as "The Tonight Show Band", and the graphic is changed to acknowledge Max's absence. Also, as a result, a skit was born that whenever Max appears on his last show before leaving, Conan would note that Max deserves a 'proper send-off' and the band would start playing, as suddenly his pedestal would begin to drive itself outside the studio with Max still playing. The pod would then move into the streets of Los Angeles where usually something absurd would happen such as Max being pulled over or hit by a speeding truck.





  1. ^ a b c "For TV Band, Jet Lag Is Part of the Job". The New York Times. June 5, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-07.  
  2. ^ a b "Conan's 'Late Night' Theme Being Adapted for 'Tonight'". TVWeek. Retrieved 2009-06-07.  

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