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Questlove Says David Letterman Made New York Cool

Questlove. Photo: Patrick McMullan

There’s been a lot of turnover recently in late night, but nothing more seismic than David Letterman’s announcement that he will soon retire. When Vulture caught up with Tonight Show bandleader Questlove last night at the Edible Schoolyard NYC Spring Benefit, we asked the music man for his thoughts on the shocker. “What can I say?” replied Questlove. “We’re part of his generation. My parents were Carson’s generation; I’m Generation X. Letterman was our guy … Even now, I still go to all his old YouTube clips and watch them. Not to mention I take a lot of pride in the walk-on songs chosen for the guests that come on. Paul [Shaffer] is the godfather of the walk-on song. They made New York cool. They make everything so cool. I wish them the best of luck. He laid a mighty foundation down.”

As for Questlove’s own new gig, moving from Late Night to The Tonight Show alongside Jimmy Fallon, he had only positive things to say about the transition. “It’s better than any of us could have ever expected,” said Questlove. “It almost feels like Late Night was just us going to college and getting our degree and now we have adult jobs. The spirit of the original show is still intact — we’re still a bunch of 14- and 15-year-olds playing pranks and games behind mom and dad’s back.”

Questlove on Letterman: He Made New York Cool