Song of the Day: Doc Severinsen & The NBC Orchestra, “Last Tango In Paris”

Doc Severinsen, trumpeter extraordinaire who for many years conducted the NBC Orchestra on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, played his last concert before retiring the other night at the age of 95. Known for the “hip” clothes he wore nightly, he and the band provided music five nights a week for the 30 years Carson hosted the show, playing the opening and closing themes and providing music for the studio audience during commercial breaks, and backing the many singers who appeared as guests on the show. Sometimes Carson would set aside time during the show for the band, such as on February 16, 1972, when this performance of “Last Tango In Paris” was taped.

ETA: Best Classic Bands has a great article about Doc’s last concert.

17 thoughts on “Song of the Day: Doc Severinsen & The NBC Orchestra, “Last Tango In Paris”

    1. Leno wasn’t too bad (I really liked “Headlines” and “Mr. Brain/Iron Jay/Beyondo”), but they broke the mold after Johnny. He was as close to perfect as you can get, I think, and the camaraderie he had with Ed and Doc is part of what was so good about the show.

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    1. I would have preferred hearing Doc and the band play to some of the guests he had on, I think. Still,they didn’t call him “King of Late Night” for nothing. Jay Leno was good, Jimmy Falloin…. not worth staying up for.

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        1. I don’t watch TV after about 9 at night, and Mary’s usually in bed by 11. I won’t even mess with Colbert (his ties to Chicago notwithstanding) or Kimmel. They were idiots on Comedy Central…

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  1. Johnny Carson was the best, in my humble opinion. I can’t believe Doc just retired. Amazing and I bet he is in good shape still to be able to perform until now. It shows how much he loved his music. He was great on the show and do you remember the famous Thanksgiving episode where he sat in for Ed McMahon? He was so funny. ” Yes, Mr. Carson…”.

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    1. I don’t remember that specific episode, no, but I remember he used to sit in for Ed while Ed was off doing something, like Tommy Newsom would sit in for him. My favorites were the Friday night episodes, where Ed and Doc would tell Johnny what they would be doing that weekend, and Johnny would say something like “I’ll be sorting my socks.” They were greawt together….

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    1. Oh, I love it, too. Mary and I went to see Count Basie the Valentine’s Day after we were married (about two weeks later, actually). It was at the Park West, where everyone sat at these long tables, and we were sitting right up front, about five feet from the bandstand. Do you kmow just how loud four trumpets, four trombones, and five saxophones are? We loved it….

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    1. I don’t think they syndicated it internationally, but there are a ton of clips on YouTube from the show. Carson was a comedian who had a knack for interviewing and ran a very entertaining show.

      Doc said he practiced eight hours a day, seven days a week. That’s how he got that good…

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    2. Johnny Carson was the most famous and longest-running host of the Tonight Show, long before Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien or Jimmy Fallon. He was a comedic genius with fantastic timing and a fabulous sense of humor. Everyone loved Johnny Carson You might enjoy checking out a couple of videos on YouTube.

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