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Paul Shaffer and the World’s Most Dangerous Band to Sub for The Roots on ‘Jimmy Fallon’

Former ‘Letterman’ band to fill in this Friday while Questlove and company attend the Grammys

Thirty years after David Letterman and Paul Shaffer departed the NBC airwaves, the Late Night bandleader and his longtime backing band are returning to 30 Rock to sub in for the Roots on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. The one-night-only performance will take place February 3rd while the Roots are in Los Angeles to attend the Grammys.

“Paul Shaffer is one of the most important musical figures in late night history,” Fallon tells Rolling Stone. “From SNL to Letterman, he’s done it all. I’m beyond honored and excited that they’re getting the band back together.”

The idea to bring Shaffer and his band back to NBC for the night surfaced over the past couple of weeks. “What a lovely gesture on Jimmy’s part,” Shaffer tells Rolling Stone. “Questlove has always been so nice about mentioning my work with Letterman to me. He and the guys have gone ahead and blasted it into the 21st century.”

Shaffer and the World’s Most Dangerous Band were David Letterman’s house band for the entire run of NBC’s Late Night With David Letterman from 1982 to 1993. They came with him to CBS for the launch of The Late Show with David Letterman, though they renamed themselves Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra. When the CBS show ended in 2016, they reverted back to their original name. In 2017, they released an album on Sire Records.

Many band members have come and gone from the group over the years, and Shaffer still doesn’t know exactly who will be playing with him on Fallon. “We are still working on that, since people seem to be in four opposite corners of the world,” he says. “I do have the great Felicia Collins on guitar and the great Anton Fig on drums.”


The NBC building was Shaffer’s home during the long run of Late Night, and also the first five years of Saturday Night Live where he played keyboards in the house band. “There will be lots of flashbacks,” Shaffer says. “First time in the building was to go to 8H and record a demo of Howard Shore’s Saturday Night Live theme back in 1975. I got stuck in between the doors trying to leave the building at 3 AM.”

Shaffer says he doesn’t know exactly what Fallon and his team have in store for Friday evening, but he’s excited to find out. “I’m about to call Jimmy to say hello,” he says. “I used to see Dave once in the makeup room just before the show, but I have no idea how they do it now as opposed to how we did it. Can’t wait.”

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