David Letterman Announces 2015 Retirement
R.E.M.'s Mike Mills may have broken the news from the set via Twitter
David Letterman announced his pending retirement from The Late Show, and it seems that none other than former R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills, who was on set to perform with the Baseball Project, broke the news. “Dave just announced his retirement #2015 #muchlovedave,” tweeted Mills, with entertainment reporters confirming the news soon after.
After 11 years behind the desk at NBC’s Late Night, Letterman jumped to CBS after NBC declilned to promote him to fill Johnny Carson’s vaunted role on The Tonight Show, instead opting for Jay Leno. The Late Show gig competed directly with Leno, with Letterman opting for slightly edgier, goofier humor, including his nightly Top 10 lists and recurring segments like “Stupid Pet Tricks.”
When it comes to music, Letterman has had countless memorable moments. In 1994, Madonna made a controversial appearance in which she said “fuck” 14 times, gave Letterman a pair of her underwear (etc.), smoked a cigar, and refused to leave the set. They later reconciled on air. In 2004, an under-the-influence Courtney Love imitated an earlier incident with Drew Barrymore by standing on Letterman’s desk and flashing him. She later admitted she was at a low point in her struggle with drugs, and wrote him an apology letter from rehab. Then, in 2009, there was Joaquin Phoenix’s awkward interview about quitting acting to become a rapper, which was later revealed as a performance-art hoax for his I’m Still Here flick.
In 2010, CBS started the Live on Letterman online concert series in which artists performed shows from the Ed Sullivan Theater stage. Adele, Gorillaz, Lorde, Queens of the Stone Age, and Phoenix are among the many acts to take part. Paul McCartney performed a short concert on the Sullivan Theater marquee, while Jay Z and Eminem played the building’s roof.
Letterman has arguably had some of the best musical bookings in recent years, mixing classic rock artists with emerging talent. In February, the show celebrated the Beatles’ historic 1964 Ed Sullivan performance with a week-long tribute series featuring Broken Bells, Lenny Kravitz, and the Flaming Lips with Sean Lennon. Future Islands, Dum Dum Girls, Le1f, the Hold Steady, and the Orwells also recently appeared on the show. His most recent musical act was Lady Gaga, who impressed Bill Murray, the first guest to appear on both of Letterman’s talk shows.