Iconic drummer/Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band member Max Weinberg has revealed the real reason he stepped down as Conan O'Brien's band leader: to deal with a heart issue he's grappled with for the last 26 years. In an interview with Fancast.com for a supplemental piece attached to tonight's (October 7) HBO debut of Springsteen doc The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town, Weinberg candidly reveals the details of the open-heart surgery he underwent earlier this year.
"I can make a little news here, which I haven't talked about to anybody, but on February 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 in the interview.
In 1984, Weinberg was told he had a valve issue in his heart but was simply instructed to monitor it. "Two years ago, it became life-threatening and I had to do something about it sooner or later," Weinberg explained. "I did it two weeks after [O'Brien's Tonight Show] went off the air."
Weinberg implied that the unprecedented Conan/Jay Leno late-night fiasco with NBC might have exacerbated his condition. "It was very dramatic. 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. 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."
TBS announced last week that when Conan debuts on November 8, guitarist Jimmy Vivino will take over as leader of the former Max Weinberg 7. This followed months of speculation that Weinberg was leaving O'Brien, precipitated by a particularly nasty allegation that, in the aftermath of the aforementioned late-night shake-up at NBC, Weinberg offered his services to Leno, as the new bandleader on The Tonight Show, infuriating O'Brien in the process.
All that seems like noise now, as Weinberg takes it easy until called upon to drive down E Street with the Boss once again. "I'm playing better than I ever did. I'm not looking backward. I feel wonderful about where I'm at - physically, personally, professionally."
You can read the entire interview here at Fancast.com.