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August 31, 2015

Conan O'Brien Rocks: Memorable Music Moments From the 'Late Night' Days

by Steve Baltin, posted Nov 14th 2010 7:00PM
Conan O'Brien and Jack WhiteNo late night show was or is complete without a great soundtrack and 'Late Night With Conan O'Brien' was no different.

With the E Street Band's drummer, "Mighty" Max Weinberg as the musical director and band leader, the show had a lot of credibility to attract the biggest names in music. O'Brien (a devout music lover and guitar player in his own right) took full advantage of that to create some memorable music moments, including devoting full weeks to artists like Neil Young and the White Stripes.

And he looks to bring some of that music magic to 'Conan,' as proven by his performance with Jack White on his new TBS show's premiere episode.

As we welcome Conan back to TV, we remember the greatest musical moments from his 'Late Night' history.

Radiohead, Sept. 14, 1993 – Not necessarily the greatest performance, or even top Radiohead appearance, nevertheless it does hold the distinction of being Conan's first musical guest, on the second episode. And this 1993 performance of 'Creep' set the tone for the show's role as true champions of indie music, with Black 47, Urge Overkill, the Breeders, Belly, Suede, They Might Be Giants and Bjork among the many big names of '90s alterna-land that graced Conan's stage in the show's first few months.'

Arcade Fire, Feb. 1, 2005 – Coming just a few months after the release of the band's debut, 'Funeral,' this inspired rendition of 'Neighborhood #2 (Laika)' helped further Arcade Fire's entry into the U.S. mainstream and solidify the band's status as one of the new most exciting live bands in rock this decade.

Death From Above 1979, March 11, 2005 – 2005 was a very good year for Conan musically, with three performances on our list coming from that time. And try as we might, we can't cut out Arcade fire above, U2 below, and, well, this version of 'Romantic Nights,' with Conan musical director and E Street band drummer Max Weinberg pounding the skins is widely regarded online as one of the top moments ever on the show. So who are we to argue?

U2, Oct. 4, 2005 – Called 'Late Night With Conan O'Brien, the U2 Edition,' by musical booker Jim Pitt, this was the first and only episode of the show dedicated to one band. Featuring four songs, starting with 'All Because Of You' and wrapping up with 'Vertigo,' the show also found O'Brien interviewing all four members in one segment and then getting a one-on-one chat with Bono. It also found O'Brien displaying his musical prowess with 'In The Year 2000,' featuring Bono and the Edge.

Bruce Springsteen & The Seeger Sessions Band, June 23, 2006 – O'Brien got a chance to show off his musical prowess once again, this time a bit more seriously, as he picked up a guitar and joined fellow guests Thomas Haden Church and Jimmy Fallon in jamming with Springsteen's raucous Seeger Sessions band for celebrations of roots music with a big old Irish jig feel on 'Bring 'Em Home (If You love Uncle Sam)' and 'Pay Me My Money Down.'

The White Stripes, Feb. 20, 2009 – Jack and Meg White reunited for the first time in two years to say goodbye to Conan's late-night show with a stripped-down acoustic version of 'We Are Going To Be Friends.' Obviously touched, O'Brien walked over and thanked the duo for helping him bid adios to the show that made him famous by saying the performance "meant the world to me." For that reason alone it's a very memorable late night moment.

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Any discussion of music and Conan should include a mention of Cheap Trick. Conan was obviously a huge fan and he had the boys from Rockford on many times throughout his run on Late Night. Often, he would jam with them and on several occasions, Rick Nielsen presented Conan with the gift of a customized guitar. Cheap Trick named their box set based upon a comment from Conan. And, of course, Conan selected Cheap Trick's "Surrender" as the musical background to his taped opening segment for the Tonight Show.

November 15 2010 at 10:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The one that has always stuck out in my mind was My Morning Jacket. I think it was a breakthrough performance for them, got them a lot of attention, and aided by an ultra-enthusiastic Conan closing out after their performance by bounding out to shake their hands going "Yes! Yes! I am BUYING that record!"

November 14 2010 at 9:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Better still than Springsteen's appearance with Seeger Sessions Band, was his appearance with the E Street Band in December 2007. It was the most relaxed I've ever seen him on TV, and they played Kitty's Back and Merry Christmas Baby.

November 14 2010 at 7:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great list, but I'll always remember the week Neil Young spent with Conan while promoting Prairie Wind. It was truely something great.

November 14 2010 at 7:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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