The 300th episode of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” airs Tuesday, July 28th. The late-night talk show, which recently nabbed three Emmy nominations, has been running for about a year and a half. But the show’s house band, The Roots, have been on board with Fallon since before his first hosting gig in 2009.
In a recent interview with Brooklyn Magazine, “Tonight Show” musical director and Roots band member, Questlove, recalled the quirky encounter he first had with Fallon in 2008:
“He was able to disarm us in seconds. Usually people are conscious of it: Oh, the nerdy white guy and a bunch of black guys. They’re a little quiet or whatever. Like, he was silly and was just proud of it. And was so silly that it made us silly. Like, we rock $US500 sneakers. I’m not getting my knees dirty on the grass at UCLA to do a human pyramid! Like, imagine the Wu Tang Clan decided to play in a playground. That’s what it looked like. And I’m looking at my manager and we just stared there shaking our heads. I was just like, we’re stuck with this guy, aren’t we. And he just looked like, I’m afraid so.”
Questlove goes on to admit that something about that interaction with Fallon strengthened the band’s bond:
“And that’s when I knew, I instantly knew. And what was even crazier was that every show after that show, it was as if that was the moment The Roots started. Whatever happened before, I don’t even count no more because suddenly we weren’t afraid to be — we weren’t guarded with each other anymore, for some silly reason. Suddenly, we became friends again.”
The Roots have had a rotating roster of band members since the band’s conception in 1987, but their hip-hop/neo-soul free styling has proved timeless. Since meeting Fallon, The Roots have won two Grammy awards and been nominated for another five.
Even more, “The Tonight Show” boasted a season high earlier this month at 4.139 million nightly viewers — far surpassing its late night competitors.
Of course, Fallon’s charisma and social media prowess have helped skyrocket his viewership, but there’s also something to be said for the house band’s popularity. The Roots star alongside Miley Cyrus in one of “The Tonight Show’s” most viewed YouTube videos of all time with over 31 million hits.
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