David Letterman’s Top 10 Musical Moments

Originally Posted on Rolling Stone

From Sonny and Cher’s reunion to Future Islands’ freakout, the most memorable performances during Dave’s 33 years in late night

David Letterman
(Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS)

When David Letterman permanently signs off the airwaves later this month, it won’t just be the end of one of the greatest comedy institutions in TV history — it’ll also close out an amazing showcase for musical talent. Nearly every episode of NBC’s Late Night With David Letterman and CBS’sLate Show With David Letterman had a musical guest, and it was the place where many Americans first saw everyone from R.E.M. and Weezer to Future Islands. We’ve put together 10 of the greatest musical moments from the shows’ history, and though the list is by no means complete — we could easily have gone to 100 — these are the performances we keep returning to over and over again.

R.E.M. – ‘So. Central Rain’ (1983)

To most people outside of Athens, Georgia and the college rock scene in the early Eighties, R.E.M. were a largely unknown band. But they did have enough buzz to earn a Letterman slot on October 6th, 1983, playing an early version of “So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)” off their sophomore albumReckoning — which wouldn’t actually hit shelves for another seven months. It was the band’s first time playing on network television, and it played a huge role in helping them reach a wider audience.

Continue reading

Advertisements

This Day in Music History — December 19

1965 : Keith Moon collapses during a Who concert in Ontario.

1975 : Ronnie Wood leaves The Faces and joins The Rolling Stones.

1980 : Nine To Five, starring Dolly Parton and featuring the classic theme song by the singer (where she uses her fingernails as an instrument) opens in theaters.

2012 : Madonna gets angry at fans at a concert in Santiago, Chile, for smoking cigarettes near her against her wishes. The singer lectures the audience: “If you’re going to smoke cigarettes, I’m not doing a show. You don’t care about me, I don’t care about you. All right? Are we going to play that game? I’m not kidding. I can’t sing if you smoke.”

2014 : Darlene Love sings “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” on David Letterman’s show for the final time, as the host has announced his retirement. When Love first performed the song on Letterman in 1986, it went so well that Dave made it a Christmas tradition, and every year she would come back to sing it.