Wednesday night's farewell to David Letterman on The Late Show was a star-studded affair that was packed with American Presidents, a visit to Taco Bell, and a Top 10 List to end all Top 10 Lists. However, it was the closing segment, backed by the Foo Fighters, that perhaps packed the biggest emotional punch of the night. Dave Grohl and his band of brothers played the hell out of the talk show host's favorite song, "Everlong," as a montage of Letterman's best moments flashed in rhythm to the song. The 68-year-old has had some incredible musical guests over the years, from Lady Gaga to Madonna to Paul McCartney, but he certainly has the most profound relationship with the Foo Fighters — and it goes a long way back.
There are a lot of musicians who credit Letterman with their success because he had them appear on his show early in their career. On Thursday, The National thanked him for having them on their first-ever television appearance. The Dave Matthews Band, Hootie and the Blowfish, and the Counting Crows all got their television starts on The Late Show in the '90s. He has been, for a very long time, the late night curator of what is going to be the next big thing.
When it comes to bands who owe a great deal to Letterman, few come close to the relationship the Foo Fighters have with the late night legend. Not only was he an early fan, but he has also kept close, personal ties to the band members, and to their music, for more than 20 years. Here's why the Foo Fighters and Letterman mean so much to each other.
Dave Grohl Credits Dave for Some of His Early Musical Influences
Dave Grohl is one of the most wide-reaching musical artists of his generation. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Grohl shared, “I would stay up every night to see him and his band. I was an aspiring rock musician, and the Late Night band in the ‘80s was the best rock and roll band on television. Their drummer, Steve Jordan, was a huge influence on me." That's quite a big compliment, coming from the drummer of Nirvana, the band that changed rock and roll forever.
The Foo Fighters Appear on Letterman in '95 & Make their National TV Debut
This was their very first single, and Grohl's first time appearing on national television in a band that wasn't Nirvana. At the time, Grohl was considering joining as the drummer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. "I was this close to joining," he told Rolling Stone in '95. The song ending up hitting No. 2 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. It's a good thing he stuck with the band.
Letterman Has the Foo Fighters Back for His First Show After Heart Surgery
Letterman had to take months off from hosting The Late Show in January 2000, in order to have quintuple bypass surgery on his heart. Needless to say, his return to hosting after that procedure was quite meaningful. Letterman asked the Foo Fighters to be the musical guests for his first show back because their song "Everlong" meant quite a lot to him during his recovery process. According to Grohl and EW, “We dropped everything to do it. I think we canceled a tour. It was an honor to be asked.”
Dave Grohl Thanks Dave for 'Sonic Highways'
As Letterman's relationship with the band grew over the years, their connection went well beyond the Ed Sullivan Theater. Grohl credited Letterman with nurturing and encouraging his idea for Sonic Highways — an HBO documentary and album in which the band tours all over the US, recording music in different cities with different influential legends. According to Grohl, he went to Letterman first to discuss it.
Letterman Surprises the Foo Fighters With a Touching Story in 2014
After the show stopped taping for air in October 2014, Letterman asked the Foo Fighters to perform their song "Miracle" for a web-exclusive video. What the band didn't know was just how much that song happened to matter to the talk show host. In the clip, Letterman explains a beautiful skiing trip with his son that was recorded and set to this very song. According to Grohl, "We had no idea how important the song was to him. So we’re standing there listening, and just holding back tears.” When Letterman returned to thank them, you could tell he, too, had a lump in his throat.
The Foo Fighters Close Out Letterman's Last Show
You can see and hear how hard the Foo Fighters played this song for their good friend, Letterman. Now, if you'll please excuse me, I need to wipe the mascara currently streaming down my face.