Max Weinberg quit Conan over health issues

Max Weinberg, long-time band leader for “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” – and briefly, “The Tonight Show”, says he won’t be returning to beat the sticks on O’Brien’s new TBS show because of “heart issues”.

The 59-year-old, also the drummer for Bruce Springsteen’s ‘E-Street Band’, tells Fancast : “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,”.

Weinberg says he “had valve repair. I found out about this 26 years ago and I knew about it and I monitored it. At the time, there was not much they could do and it wasn’t as serious as it became. As I got older, it got worse. Fortunately, the protocols for dealing with it became much more advanced and I found a wonderful doctor in New York who specializes in repairing valves. Two years ago, it became life-threatening and I had to do something about it sooner or later. I did it two weeks after [Conan’s ‘Tonight Show’] went off the air.

I’ll tell you it was a life-changing experience emotionally and spiritually. I owe my life to these doctors. If you can remember back to how moved David Letterman was when he got back on the air [in February 2000] – he had quintuple bypass surgery. [In valve-repair surgery] they stop your heart. I was on the heart-lung bypass machine for close to seven hours. Did it play into my decision to remain where I am? Maybe. I mean I had three months of very difficult recovery. When I say it was life-changing – I’ve always been a person who smelled the roses, but everything looks a little brighter. Everything looks a little bit more manageable. Nothing is really that big a deal to me anymore. I’ve never felt better. I thought I had energy before [but] I’m a thousand percent better. I’m playing better than I ever did. I’m not looking backward. I feel wonderful about where I’m at – physically, personally, professionally.”

Weinberg , who said you will likely see him on TV again some day, said his family also played a part in his decision not to be a part of “Conan”, which launches next month.

“Frankly, I do prefer living in New Jersey and that was one of the problems I had. I love playing in L.A., but my kids and my wife are back east, and we live part of the time in Italy, so it was hard to structure my life [and have a job in Los Angeles],” he explained.

The gifted musician also spoke about the demise of Conan’s incarnation “Tonight Show” saying, “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,” he said. “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.”

So long as Max is back with the E Street Band pumping out great hits like this, that’s all that matters! Tour again please! Clint and I will definitely be there!