Conan O’Brien closed his final “Tonight Show” by playing rhythm guitar while Will Ferrell sang “Freebird,” then made his guitar skills a key part of his live tour, going so far as to record a song with Jack White in Nashville this summer, which they played together last night on Conan’s first TBS show. All of this runs counter to what O’Brien told Carson Daly on “Last Call” in 2002:
Said O’Brien then: “I remember when I was really interested in comedy and I was in high school, Alan Thicke had a talk show, and they had all these posters up everywhere like, ‘He’s coming, it’s gonna be better than Johnny Carson’ … and I watched his first show, and it was like, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, here he comes, Alan Thicke,’ and the doors opened, and he came running out, and the band’s rocking out, and he runs down to the band and he picks up a guitar and he starts rocking out with the band, and I was sitting there and I was 14 and I’m like, ‘You’re an ass.’ Click. I always knew that as a lesson, that [guitar playing] is my hobby, and I don’t like it when celebrities inflict their hobby [on the audience] … It’s one of those things that I’m very careful not to do.” [via NY Mag, video below]
Couple things here. First, Alan Thicke has some legitimate musical chops, as he wrote the theme songs to “Diff’rent Strokes” and “Facts of Life” (he also wasn’t one-tenth the TV host that Conan is). Second, in Conan’s defense, no one should be held accountable for what they say on “Last Call with Carson Daly.” And finally, if I had to guess, playing onstage with White likely served as a bookend to the musical interlude that began with “Freebird,” not as a signal of what’s to come.
Nevertheless: YouTube archives 1, Conan 0. YA BURNT.
Jack White and Conan onstage: