Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Juggling jobs is difficult at times - Max Weinberg

Normally when you become the musical conductor for a band on a late night talk show, that's pretty much your primary job. Doc Severinsen, Paul Shaffer, et al have pretty much been devoted to Johnny, Dave, or whoever.

There's been one notable exception to this rule - Max Weinberg, who has conducted Conan O'Brien's band since the very beginning - a band that's named after him. The reason for the exception is pretty clear - Conan may be one of the most famous late night talk show hosts in the United States (and Finland), but he's not The Boss.

In February 1999, Weinberg took a leave of absence from "Late Night" to join Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for a historic reunion. This was their first world tour in over a decade and one of the most anticipated and celebrated concert tours of 1999/2000. The tour wrapped up on July 1, 2000 after an explosive ten-night-stand at New York's Madison Square Garden....

However, Max's TV boss recently got a promotion, which led to a bit of an issue, since Max's music Boss was on tour at the same time. Ultimately, it was decided that in this case, Conan's needs overruled Bruce's needs. So Bruce had to find a replacement for Max for some of his tour dates.

When Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Izod Center in the New Jersey Meadowlands on May 21, there was one musician conspicuously absent: Max Weinberg, the group’s drummer for more than three decades....

Mr. Weinberg, who was replaced that first night in New Jersey by his son, Jay, 18, who is also substituting for his father on at least the first seven dates that Mr. Springsteen is playing in Europe, on a leg of the tour that began last Saturday in the Netherlands. While Mr. O’Brien and NBC had previously permitted Mr. Weinberg to take leaves of absence from “Late Night” for as many as six months to tour with Mr. Springsteen, the opening weeks of “Tonight” were ultimately deemed too important for him to miss.

So Jay Weinberg is kinda like a Jason Bonham, although happily Jay's reasons for playing with Bruce are different than Jason's reasons for playing with Led Zeppelin, with one exception - during a 1979 sound check, Jason played with Led Zeppelin while John stood back and listened to the band. I know this is off topic, but I love this story:

Knebworth in August 1979 proved a properly memorable occasion, not only because Led Zeppelin performed to record-breaking crowds on two consecutive weekends in what would turn out to be their last concerts in the UK, but also because the young Bonham stepped out on stage with the group for the first time, albeit during the soundcheck.

"Dad and I drove up to soundcheck on the Wednesday. He said: 'Do you know 'Trampled Underfoot'?' I said: 'Yeah.' He said: 'We're going to play it.' So I just got on the drumkit and Jimmy went: 'Right, ready, ready?' And Jonesy [John Paul Jones] started off, and he knew it was me. Robert and Jimmy did not, though, they didn't look around for a while. Then Jimmy saw my dad out front and went: 'Who's playing?' It was great fun!" he remembers.

Unfortunately, John Bonham would never see his son perform professionally again. Although technically, Max won't see his son Jay perform - Max will be working.
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