Mighty Max Blames Heart Problems For Conan Split
Ever since last April when O’Brien announced he would host a new show on TBS, speculation as to whether Weinberg would accompany the ginger-haired comic to the new digs was centered around whether the drummer’s dual career as a TV bandleader / E Street Band drummer was in conflict.
Although Weinberg took some time off from last year’s Working On A Dream tour so he could be in Burbank for the start of “The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien,” the rumor mill whispered that O’Brien was less than pleased about Weinberg splitting his time between Bruce Springsteen and the TV show. Which really doesn’t make all that much sense when you consider that O’Brien is a fan and a friend of The Boss.
Yes, sometimes the rumors are wrong, demonstrated with Weinberg’s recent revelation during an interview with Fancast.com’s Adam Buckman that it was his heart that held his fate. Specifically, a malfunctioning heart valve.
“I can make a little news here, which I haven’t talked about to anybody,” Weinberg told Buckman during the interview set to coincide with the debut HBO’s “The Promise: The Making Of Darkness On The Edge Of Town.” “But on Feb. 8, I came to the end of a 26-year watchful, waiting odyssey that culminated in 12 hours of massively invasive open-heart surgery.”
Although Weinberg lived with heart problems for nearly three decades, the drummer said his condition didn’t become life-threatening until two years ago, resulting in heart surgery on Feb. 8, only two weeks after Conan’s last “Tonight Show” aired on NBC.
As to the entire Leno mess involving the magnificently jawed comedian handing over reins of the “Tonight Show” over to O’Brien only to take them back a few months later, Weinberg did say the stress resulting from the NBC / O’Brien conflict may have contributed to his heart condition.
“It was very dramatic,” Weinberg said. “At my age, just being in this business for as long as I’ve been, nothing really surprises me, particularly in the landscape of television. [But] any abrupt ending to anything is shocking. It was very weird and awkward and, of course, I felt really bad for some of the people who moved out there – over a hundred people from New York who really took the hit, people who had purchased homes.”
As O’Brien prepares for the November launch of his new show on TBS, the bandleader role will be filled by guitarist Jimmy Vivino. Meanwhile, Weinberg is touring with his 15-piece big band as well as looking forward to what the future might bring.
“I’m playing better than I ever did,” Weinberg said during the Fancast.com interview. “I’m not looking backward. I feel wonderful about where I’m at – physically, personally, professionally.”
Click here for the complete interview on Fancast.com and here for Max Weinberg’s official website.