Saturday, April 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Questlove: 'The Funk Doc Severinsen'?

Will The Roots be the next 'Tonight Show' band?

Questlove: 'The Funk Doc Severinsen'?

FILE - This Dec. 8, 2011 file photo shows musician Questlove from the band The Roots in New York. Questlove´s memoir, ìMo´ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove,î will be published through Grand Central Publishing on June 18. (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri, file)
FILE - This Dec. 8, 2011 file photo shows musician Questlove from the band The Roots in New York. Questlove's memoir, ìMo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove,î will be published through Grand Central Publishing on June 18. (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri, file) AP

If Jimmy Fallon takes over as host of The Tonight Show from Jay Leno in 2014 in the marquee late night spot for Comcast-owned NBC, as has been widely speculated this week, does that mean The Roots will be the new Tonight Show band?

Probably. They may not change their name, but it's highly unlikely that Fallon would make the move from Studio 6B in 30 Rockefeller Center, where Late Night with Jimmy Fallon is currently produced (and where Johnny Carson made his home during his late '60s-early'70s Tonight Show years in New York) to the new state-of-the-art 30 Rock studio being built for him without bringing the Philadelphia band billed as The Legendary Roots Crew with him. 

Why's that? Because NBC is interested in moving Fallon, 38, into an earlier time slot than his current 12:35 start time to attract younger viewers, and keep ABC's Jimmy Kimmel from gaining a stranglehold on a not-yet-graying demographic, now that the 45 year old Kimmel is in direct time slot competition with Leno, 62 and David Letterman , 65. 

And how does Fallon score so well with younger viewers? Partly his show is Internet savvy, sure, and kind of because he looks like he could still get carded if he ordered a beer at the 30 Rock commissary. But also because Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, since it came on the air in 2009 has established the most aggressive and astute musical booking policy, pulling the rug out from Conan O'Brien, whose late night show used to attract all the hippest acts. 

More coverage
 
Is NBC Fallon on its own sword?
 
Fallon to take 'Tonight' chair
 
VIDEOS: 10 most popular 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon' sketches

Now, that distinction goes to Fallon, who also attracts plenty of big names, from Prince to Paul McCartney to Bruce Springsteen to Justin Timberlake, who performed on the show five nights running last week. And the reason Fallon's show has so much cred bascially boils down to The Roots, who won the became the band on late night TV immediately upon making the shrewd career move to take the job, and have pretty much become America's backing band ever since. 

So, in all likelihood, The Roots and their drummer bandleader Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson look to be in line to become the house band at the most iconic late night show on TV, with Questo stepping into the role filled by flashy dressing trumpeter Doc Severinson from 1967 to Carson's retirement in 1992.

On Twitter on Thursday, music critic and movie director Nelson George congratulated Questlove on becoming "the new Doc Severinsen." The Roots-connected music site amended that designation: "The Funk Doc Severinsen!"

Previously: WXPN Music Film Fest Follow In The Mix on Twitter  

Dan DeLuca Inquirer Music Critic
About this blog

Join Dan as he blogs about music and other forms of popular culture

Reach Dan at ddeluca@phillynews.com.

Dan DeLuca Inquirer Music Critic
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
Stay Connected