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    Weinberg, Max (13 April 1951 – Present)

    Drummer from Newark, New Jersey, who was performing publicly by the time he was seven years old.  As he grew older, he became involved in the budding Jersey shore music scene, playing covers of Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, The Rolling Stones and The Young Rascals.  In 1964, he played the New York World’s Fair with The Epsilons.  He graduated from Columbia High School in 1969 and was in the studio a year later with a group called Blackstone to record a self-titled album.  He continued his formal education at Adelphi University and Seton Hall, where he studied film.  In the meantime, he continued drumming in at bar mitzvahs, in bars, and at weddings, then wound up in the orchestra pit for a Broadway run of Godspell. 


    On 7th April 1974, he opened for Bruce Springsteen as a member of The Jim Marino Band in a concert at Seton Hall University.  When The Boss advertised an opening in The Village Voice, Max applied and aced the audition.  By 23rd August, he was officially a member of the E Street Band.  His first performance with them was at a place called The Main Point, located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, on 19th September.  His first recording with them was 1975’s Born to Run. 


    In 1977, he appeared on Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell, drumming on hits such as the title track, “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”, and “You Took the Words Right out of My Mouth”. 


    His drumming slowed down on the somber 1978 recording, Darkness on the Edge of Town.  It may have messed with his pacing a little bit, because shortly thereafter he had a case of drummer’s block and had trouble just keeping time.  The fact that he had developed tendonitis couldn’t have helped.  Eventually he had a total of seven hand and wrist surgeries to deal with the problem.  He also did some rehab work with Joe Morello, who taught him how to play through the pain. 


    Max got married in 1981 to a schoolteacher named Rebecca Schick. 


    In October 1983, he could be heard drumming on the top two songs on the Billboard chart, “Making Love out of Nothing at All” by Air Supply and “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler. 


    Other artists and groups he worked with include Gary U.S. Bonds, Peter Gabriel, Ian Hunter, Carole King, Sir Paul McCartney, Natalie Merchant, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, Ringo Starr, Sting, Barbra Streisand, and Pete Townshend. 


    In 1984, he appeared on The Boss’s blockbuster album, Born in the U.S.A.  He could also be found on the bookshelves as the author of The Big Beat:  Conversations with Rock’s Greatest Drummers. 


    In 1985, he was dubbed Best Drummer in a Pop and Jazz Music Poll conducted by Playboy; He received the same honour in 1986, courtesy of the critics at Rolling Stone. 


    He also started a one-man, multimedia presentation called “Growing up on E Street”, replete with film shorts produced by Max and a Q&A session. 


    In 1987, he was supplanted by a drum machine on several tracks of Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love, but on the road, he was irreplaceable.  He was also irreplaceable at home, as he and Rebecca welcomed their first child, Ali, into the world. 


    Max continued his education in 1989 at Seton Hall.  On 18th October, he got a phone call from Bruce saying he was breaking up the band.  Just as well Max had gone back to school.  Later that year, he graduated with a B.A. in Communications.  He went on to attend the Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, but dropped out in a little over a month. 


    In 1990, the Weinbergs had their second child, Jay, and Max supplemented his income by giving motivational speeches to companies.  He also spent time volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters and they bestowed their HERO Award upon him in October.  It is hard to believe he had time to start up a production company and record label.  Hard Ticket Entertainment was launched in 1990 and a year later they had already released an album, Scene of the Crime by Killer Joe.  In 1991, The Big Beat:  Conversations with Rock’s Greatest Drummers, was republished. 


    During this time of wearing many hats to make ends meet, Max donned another one, working at Music Master as an executive.  He would also take drumming jobs wherever he could, including bar mitzvahs.  In 1992, he did a guest stint with 10,000 Maniacs when their drummer was out with an injury.  Things were beginning to turn around for Max, who found himself performing at President Clinton’s 1993 inauguration gala.  He auditioned to play in the pit band for the Broadway re-working of Tommy, but was relegated to second alternate substitute percussionist.  (No one wants to be second alternative substitute percussionist.) 


    In July, he bumped into comedian Conan O’Brien, who was just getting ready to start his own late-night TV show.  Max shared his vision of what the music should be like, and Conan invited him to audition.  He slapped together The Max Weinberg 7 and the septet won the audition.  Max was named Music Director and has been the bandleader ever since. 


    By 1994, he had the clout to put his name on the CD collection, Max Weinberg Presents:  Let There Be Drums. 


    In spite of his newfound television success, he didn’t stop touring the college circuit, but tweaked the title of his show to “E Street to Late Night:  Dreams Found, Lost and Found Again”. 


    In 1995, Bruce briefly re-assembled the band for some new material to be included on a Greatest Hits album.  Max also contributed his talents to a pair of tracks on Johnnie Johnson’s CD, Johnnie Be Back.  All in all, it was a busy year, including performances at the Grammys and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Gala Concert.  He was back at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in December and performed at President Clinton’s second inauguration gala the next month.  In 1998, he was Music Director for Comic Relief 8 at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall. 


    Max’s schedule became a little more complicated in 1999 when The Boss decided to get the band together.  Fortunately, his other boss, Conan, has been very good about giving Max time off to go on the road.  For the most part, Max has been allowed to moonlight ever since, rarely missing a beat.  His connection with an international E Street Band tour could not hurt the TV shows, however.  He was temporarily replaced by James Wormworth, with Jimmy Vivino taking over band-leading duties.  The Boss was equally flexible to work around Max’s schedule, and tried to keep the extended tour confined to weekends, allowing his drummer to appear on TV during the week. 


    In the year 2000, The Max Weinberg 7 issued their eponymous debut on compact disc.  The album included covers of songs the band had played on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. 


    In 2002, Max appeared on The Boss’s 9/11-themed The Rising, and performed on the subsequent tour.  Again, Conan gave him a leave of absence so he continued to divide his time between the show and the road.  His neighbours were not so understanding when he decided to turn his 65 acres of property into a subdivision. 


    In 2004, he campaigned unsuccessfully for presidential wannabe, John Kerry. 


    A song by The Max Weinberg 7, “R.C.4” was included on the soundtrack of the 2005 remake of Bewitched. 


    The Boss made his third appearance on Late Night in 2006 just as plans were in the works for another album, Magic.  It resulted in another tour and more time off for Max. 


    Bruce and the E Street Band famously played the half-time show at Super Bowl XLIII in 2009, and members of The Max Weinberg 7 were also included in the once-in-a-lifetime performance. 


    Shortly thereafter, Max was informed that he and the rest of the Max Weinberg 7 would indeed be accompanying Conan on his next big adventure, The Tonight Show.  They added a musician and became known as The Tonight Show Band.  It was not the best timing for Max, who was just getting ready to go back on the road with the E Street Band on Bruce’s Working on a Dream tour. 


    Max’s moonlighting became comic fodder for O’Brien, who used his drummer’s frequent departures as a running gag on the show, sending him off in mock pageantry, flying to the rafters like an angel or travelling down the New York streets on a float, with hilarious consequences.


    Bruce Springsteen recordings

    Held up without a Gun (Bruce Springsteen)

    Hungry Heart (Bruce Springsteen) 



    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Weinberg
    2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Weinberg_and_The_Tonight_Show_Band
    3. http://www.drummerworld.com/drummers/Max_Weinberg.html
    4. http://www.rollingstone.com/rockdaily/index.php/2009/03/20/max-weinbergs-son-to-sub-in-at-a-handful-of-springsteen-gigs/
    5. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0918136/bio











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