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
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.