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Top 5 Favorite Classic Rock Performances on ‘Letterman’

As we all brace ourselves for David Letterman’s final show helming the desk at CBS’ Late Show, we can’t help but look back at some of the stellar musical performances that have occurred over the years.  While there were countless incredible classic rock moments, here are five of our favorites:

Ted Nugent, “The Christmas Song,” 1987

In Letterman’s take on those cheesy Christmas specials of old, Ted Nugent, in role of “neighbor/friend who happened to be in the area,” stopped by to sing “The Christmas Song,” but we have a hunch that’s not Letterman’s real singing voice.

Heart/Foo Fighters, “Kick It Out,” 2014


As part of the Foo Fighters’ weeklong residency on The Late Show, Ann & Nancy Wilson joined the band and performed “Kick It Out,” which absolutely brought the house down.

Elvis Costello, “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding,” 2003

Costello pulled double-duty in 2003 filling in as host for Letterman and musical guest.  Costello even introduced himself before his performance of “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding,” much to everyone’s delight.

Warren Zevon, “Roland the Headless Gunner,” 2002

Zevon was Letterman’s only guest that night on October 30, 2002 shortly after he revealed he was diagnosed with an inoperable form of lung cancer.  Per Letterman’s request, he played “Roland the Headless Gunner,” in what was one of the most emotional episodes of The Late Show in its history.

Bruce Springsteen, “Glory Days,” 1993

This was the final musical performance on Letterman’s first late night show, NBC’s Late Night with David Letterman.  Letterman famously tried to get Springsteen on his show for the entirety of its 11 year run, which makes his “Better late than never” intro all the more perfect.


Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock reporter who never leaves home without her iPod, because to her, there’s something very comforting about carrying around every piece of music she’s ever owned in her life.