Jimmy Fallon Lands on ‘Rolling Stone’, Show Proves to Be A ‘Late Night’ Hit

Posted January 10, 2011 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

Jimmy Fallon proves to be the champ amongst young adults with ‘Late Night’, lands on cover of ‘Rolling Stone’

Jimmy Fallon has one of the best bands in the land to back him every night, but part of the success of  ‘Late Night’ surrounds his ingenious knowledge of music. He’s not quite a walking encyclopedia of music, but his love for great music – along with his God-given ability to do spot-on impressions of most rock and pop legends like Neil Young, Elton John, Justin Bieber, Bruce Springsteen and dozens of comedians  – has giving him a new lease of life.

The now-infamous “History of Rap” skit, where Fallon goes down memory-lane on hip-hop’s genesis, along with Fallon’s incredible boldness to devote an entire week of airtime in May 2010 to the Rolling Stones’ expanded re-issue of Exile on Main St. along with a special “Stones in Exile” documentary, instantly made ‘Late Night’ the place to go to for avid music lovers, even pushing ex-MTV veejay Daily Carson further into the sea of forgetfulness. Fallon’s show has become a serious favorite amongst music connoisseurs since Bruce Springsteen made a guest appearance on the program on November 16, singing a Neil Young-styled cover of Willow Smith’s Top 20 hit “Whip My Hair.” His website, according to reports from Billboard, garnered 511,000unique visitors in November, up 49% from a year earlier and much higher than his late-night competitors, including Jay Leno and David Letterman. ‘Late Night’ also is a big winner with young adults between the ages of  18-34, emerging as the leading competitor with over 429,000 viewers versus last year’s 320,000. Part of the reason why more traffic has plunged Fallon’s way is due to the extra content that performers give the show for the website. The show’s producers encourage musical acts to perform exclusive material to help increase hits online.

According to Billboard reports on Fallon in a January 3 article, they stated “its appeal to young viewers, as well as its willingness to feature performances of album tracks and older tunes, have earned the program the reputation of a hip, artist-friendly environment in late night, which in turn has helped attract marquee names.”

Since Springsteen stopped by to plug his The Promise album and exclusive box set, super musical performances have lit the airwaves from Fallon’s studio. Paul McCartney saluted John Lennon with “Here Today,” R. Kelly performing “Ignition (Remix)” and his latest R&B throwback “When A Woman Loves” and the Roots doing their in-house duties while also teasing the audiences with their impressive musical abilities.

In a video interview conducted by Rolling Stone, Fallon shared a moment about the Roots’ ability to wow listeners, even the Boss:

“They can do anything. They are the hardest working guys ever. I can give them anything. When Bruce was on the show, we were going through an old paylist from the ’70’s and he goes, “There’s a song called ‘Wiggle Wobble’ [Les Cooper]. Hey Roots, you’d be great with this song called “Wiggle Wobble.” They cut to ?uest and he was like “I don’t know what “Wiggle Wobble” is.” As the interview went on, ?uestlove got the song off of YouTube, played it in his headphones, figured out the key and talked to everybody in the band during the interview. And if you watch Bruce’s face, the Roots play “Wiggle Wobble” and like a five year old he’s like, “That’s “Wiggle Wobble!”

The Roots, Fallon’s back-up band, is committed to giving the show that spark and extra punch. With their hip-hop seasoning and raw infection, the band has teased viewers with a variety of tunes. During the holidays, they delivered a lush rendition of Mel Torme’s holiday classic “The Christmas Song” with Roots’ rapper Black Thought providing a delicate lead vocal inspired by Nat “King” Cole. 2010 was also the year when The Roots delivered their ninth studio album How I Got Over and collaborated with John Legend on the critically-acclaimed Wake Up! album. Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson and his bandmates continue to tour and perform on the road, but are quite committed to giving Fallon the big ratings as late-night’s most versatile backing bands.

Jimmy Fallon graces the cover of the January 20, 2011 issue of ‘Rolling Stone,’ available on newsstands now.’ “”This is actually happening,” Fallon states with such amazement on his two-year ride on late night. He’s come a long way from the on-air disaster of his first-ever show guest Robert De Niro. Now a very grateful Fallon is once again climbing his way to the top.


Bruce Springsteen Interviewed on Jimmy Fallon [November 16, 2010]
On the intro, listen to The Roots singing the theme song of “Who’s the Boss?”


Bruce talks about sessions of ‘The Darkness’, guitarist Steve Van Zandt joins in and The Roots play “Wiggle Wobble”



How ‘Jimmy Fallon’ Whips Its Late-Night Music Competition – Billboard.com
Jimmy Fallon’s Big Adventure – Rolling Stone

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine

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