Max Weinberg Leaves Conan, Rejoins E Street Band

Song of the Day  :  Wilson Pickett – Mustang Sally

Conan fans may find this bit of news shocking, but we at JACK know that Bruce Springsteen will make everything alright. After leading the grand band stand for seventeen years alongside the fluffy-haired ginger, Max Weinberg recently announced he will be departing the late-night comedy series to rekindle his love for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

It was 1974 and Weinberg was still living at home. Bouncing back and forth between part-time gigs, the drummer found himself auditioning for Bruce Springsteen after their latest drummer ditched to form his own band. Weinberg had an inherent ability to capture the Memphis soul sound that locked into Springsteen’s style with ease. Finally possessed by a rhythm section that drove furious tempos with abandonment, Weinberg found himself a home away from home.

Then 1983 happened. The Boss dropped a bomb: “I’m dissolving the E Street Band”. While it came as a disappointment to most, Weinberg found himself zombie-fied. Returning to school, playing Bar Mitzvahs, and forming the “Max Weinberg 7”, Weinberg found himself at the most important audition of his life nearly ten years later- auditioning for Lorne Michaels and Conan O’Brien. Weinberg landed the gig, grabbed the title of Music Director, and even replaced Andy Richter as Conan’s sidekick. Everything was going smooth until The Boss came back around…

Springsteen announced he was reforming The E Street Band in late 1999. Immediately he came to Weinberg, asking him to saddle up. This proved to be quite the debacle for Weinberg, but he somehow managed to figure it out. Going on tours started off as a part-time movement, but slowly the draw of the road possessed Weinberg and he took more and more time away from Conan’s show. Even as Conan made his giant leap to The Tonight Show, Weinberg plead his loyalty and remained Music Director. Unfortunately, The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien was short-lived. O’Brien decided to take his show on the road and create a comedy tour. When he asked Weinberg, he was shocked to hear his answer.

Weinberg may have made the right choice. While leaving Conan may have been difficult, playing in the band is always the most important part of his life. Weinberg was slowly becoming a personality versus a musician, and rejoining The E Street Band grants Weinberg the freedom away from the lens and back into the spotlight.

Recently, Weinberg has been credited as saying, “making music with Jimmy Vivino, Mark Pender, La Bamba, Jerry Vivino, Scott Healey, Mike Merritt, and percussionist James Wormsworth enabled me to become a better musician and bandleader. I thank them for their first rate work on the bandstand. I wish Conan and his show the best and I do look forward to dropping by.”

Just last week, Jerry Vivino announced he will be the new Band Leader/ Music Director for O’Brien’s new TBS show. Will Vivino have the same charisma as Weinberg? Only time will tell. Until then, we’ll have to get out of the living room and onto the road if we want to hear Weinberg’s signature fills. And that may not be such a bad thing after all.

[Story mostly borrowed from NYTimes]



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