Longtime bandleader exits gig after 17 years

When Conan O’Brien returns to latenight in November, it won’t be with longtime bandleader Max Weinberg.

O’Brien announced Monday that he and Weinberg had parted ways after 17 years.

Jimmy Vivino has been tapped to replace Weinberg as the band director on the upcoming TBS yakker “Conan.”

Vivino has often subbed for Weinberg as band leader, since, as a member of the E Street Band, Weinberg occasionally took leaves of absence to tour with Bruce Springsteen.

“Conan” has not yet announced the name of O’Brien’s house band, previously known as “The Tonight Show Band” during O’Brien’s stint on that show, and before that as the Max Weinberg 7.

“Max has been a huge part of my life for the past 17 years and he is an incredible band leader and musician,” O’Brien said. “I hope he can find time to stop by the new show, sit in with the band, and pretend to find my monologue funny.”

Announcment was not a surprise. Weinberg’s new big band had previously announced concert dates that had coincided with the launch of “Conan.”

“Seventeen years — a lifetime on TV. Conan and I met on a New York City street corner in the spring of 1993 and my association with Conan, his staff, and crew has been a deeply rewarding experience for me,” Weinberg said. “And, 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 wish Conan and his show the best and I do look forward to dropping by.”

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