The B List: The Letterman Edition

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1. Letterman interviews a wacked out David Byrne, and the Talking Heads perform Burning Down The House and I Zimbra in 1983:


2. REM makes their television debut on Late Night in 1983, performing Radio Free Europe and So. Central Rain:


3. Gnarls Barkley plays Crazy with a string section during their appearance last August on The Late Show:


4. The Black Crowes, who made their network TV debut on Late Night, played a cover of Traffic’s Feelin’ Alright during a celebration of Letterman’s first anniversary on CBS in 1994:


5. My Morning Jacket and the Boston Pops play Gideon:


6. Eddie Van Halen rips an instrumental version of Panama in 1985:

7. During Letterman’s last show on NBC in 1993, Bruce Springsteen stopped by to join Paul and the boys for the fitting Glory Days:


8. Ween plays Exactly Where I’m At during this White Pepper promotional appearance from the year 2000:


9. The Dynamic Duo: Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia play When I Paint My Masterpiece in 1987. That’s really a tremendous song:


10. In 1986, Keith Emerson sits in with Paul and the band for an incredible take on America from the musical West Side Story:

11. The Neville Brothers and The Meters combined forces for a fierce Fire On The Bayou:


12. Sly Stone shows a little too much enthusiasm during this version of Ya Ya Ya Ya Ya and I Want To Take You Higher from 1983, right before he went into hiding:


13. In 1994, Lou Reed graced Letterman with his presence for a performance of Sweet Jane:


14. On the date of Kurt Cobain’s suicide, Blind Melon plays an altered version of Change. I love the question mark Shannon Hoon drew on his head. It’s fucking awful that we lost two of the best voices of that decade in Cobain and Hoon. I blame Imus:


15. Radiohead plays a brilliant version of Karma Police during a 1997 appearance on The Late Show:


16. Motorhead plays a rippin’ version of Chuck Berry’s Let It Rock on Late Night in 1991:


17. Jeff Healey wins for best blind guitar player as illustrated by this ridiculous version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps:


18. Phish climbs out onto the marquee at Letterman to perform Scents and Subtle Sounds, ten years after they first performed on the show:


19. Beck always stops by Letterman’s show when he releases an album. In 2005 Beck stopped by The Ed Sullivan Theater to perform Black Tambourine:


20. Joe Walsh looks wasted during this late ’80s version of Rocky Mountain Way. That is one helluva tie-dye on the other guitar player.


I couldn’t find copies of my two favorite Letterman appearances: The Band playing Atlantic City in 1993 and Warren Zevon’s Lawyer’s Guns and Money. If anyone has seen those clips, or has other clips to recommend, leave a link or comment below…

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9 thoughts on “The B List: The Letterman Edition

  1. Ace Cowboy Reply

    The B List just keeps getting better and better…seriously. Every week you’re diggin’ up all kind of treasure. That Blind Melon clip and that Eddie van Halen Panama are both tremendous, even though they’re all tremendous. I can’t comprehend how tremendous this B List is. Stop it.

  2. Chilly Jackwater Reply

    It’s about time this f-in’ blog grew a set and started posting some f-in’ Motorhead!

  3. tedrockwell Reply

    The ‘other’ guitarist in that Joe Walsh video is Sid McGinnis, the guitar player in the Most Dangerous Band (Letterman’s house band). Nice B list this week! I would add an honorable mention though – Outkast performing Hey Ya! on Letterman. This version happened 3 days after the album was released and SETS THE STANDARD for live versions of this song. SUPER TIGHT!
    Take a look https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blEKJ58quhs

  4. Nate I. Reply

    Great list…Letterman also loves Pearl Jam and they have been on the show numerous times…always giving a good performance….

    Here they are in 2004 performing Dylan’s “Masters of War”
    https://youtube.com/watch?v=hG443N7lo4Q

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  6. The Mad Hatter Reply

    That looks like ?uestlove playing drums with Beck. Bonus points.

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  8. Greg Crueger Reply

    “The Band playing Atlantic City in 1993″…my favorite Letterman performance of all time, too. (The Levitating Jerry Garcia segment is cool too 🙂 “Jericho” is perhaps the best Band album ever, largely due to Levon hitting this song out of the park, on both vocals and mandolin. Please, NBC, post the Letterman performance.

    I had the pleasure of seeing Levon, Larry Campbell, and Larry’s beautiful wife Theresa Williams play this song at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta a few years ago. It’s hard not to cry at the legacy of the Band.

    Robbie Robertson screwed ’em all; Rick Danko and Richard Manuel are Too Soon Gone; and Levon battled throat cancer and couldn’t sing or even talk for a decade. But their legacy is one of enduring musical brilliance.

    “Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact. But maybe everything that dies someday comes back.”

    …and I’m not even a huge Springsteen fan, who wrote this song. Levon and the Band’s version is definitely the definitive version…

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