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John Mayer Concertgoer Questlove Filled in on Drums With ‘an Hour’s Notice’

Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Shutterstock

Not all heroes wear capes, but the good ones always carry a spare set of sticks. Questlove found himself in a curious situation on February 21, when, shortly before his friend John Mayer took the stage at Madison Square Garden, he was asked to fill in for Mayer’s touring drummer due to a positive COVID-19 test. What ensued was the Roots drummer sitting in for the back half of Mayer’s mostly acoustic Sob Rock tour stop, setting the groove to hits such as “Gravity,” “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room,” and a cover of “The Beautiful Ones,” by Prince. All the more remarkable: Mayer revealed in an Instagram post that Questlove was only asked to step in “on an hour’s notice” to “help end the show on such a powerful and definitive note,” giving the 30,000 attendees a shared concert experience that is unlikely to be replicated again.

“The brilliant musicians in this band stepped up in ways that I will never forget, and will bond us forever,” Mayer wrote, confirming that Questlove’s presence was a one-night-only affair. “Most importantly, I thank everyone in attendance whose enthusiasm and energy in the face of some disappointing news lifted us all to something far greater than I could have ever expected. It’s the honor of my life to share these nights of music with you.” In a separate Instagram post, Questlove reflected that he was looking forward to seeing Mayer and his “avengers of music” perform onstage that evening after taping The Tonight Show, and he initially felt a jolt of nerves when Mayer texted him about subbing in for Steve Ferrone, one of his drum heroes. “I got out my show clothes all exited and then I checked my phone, ‘Ferrone got COVID, can you sit in?’ … I was anxious, amped, timorous, excited, scared, and hyped,” he wrote. “Gotta say once onstage it was gravy … it was hella fun tonight!” So fun, in fact, that it made up for this letdown:

This also marks the THIRD time a circumstance kept me from seeing my idol drum (Ferrone is literally WHY I drum—-first time Petty’s unfortunate passing prevented me from seeing him drum & then I went to the 8th floor at 30 rock to watch him sit in on @latenightseth & of course 3/16/22 the world shut down so that was strike two——and now this lol—-ONE OF THESE NIGHTS imma see my hero play drums 🤣🤣😂😂

Confirming that the gravity of the experience wasn’t lost on anybody.

John Mayer Concertgoer Questlove Ended Up on Drums