Max Weinberg: Heart Surgery Influenced My Decision To Leave Conan Show

10/07/2010 05:06 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Max Weinberg, Conan O'Brien's former bandleader, revealed in an interview with Fancast on Thursday that a major heart operation contributed to his decision not to join O'Brien's new TBS talk show.

Weinberg, whose wife and children are still based in New Jersey, said that family considerations played the chief role in his departure as the leader of O'Brien's house band. But, he said, it was an operation to repair a damaged valve--just two weeks after O'Brien's stint on the "Tonight Show" ended--that also got him thinking about staying closer to home.

I can tell you - I can make a little news here, which I haven't talked about to anybody, but on Feb. 8, I came to the end of a 26-year watchful, waiting odyssey that culminated in 12 hours of massively invasive open heart surgery,,,I found out about this 26 years ago and I knew about it and I monitored it. At the time, there was not much they could do and it wasn't as serious as it became. As I got older, it got worse...two years ago, it became life-threatening... Did it play into my decision to remain where I am? Maybe. I mean I had three months of very difficult recovery.

Before announcing he was stepping down in September, Weinberg, who is also a longtime member of the E Street Band, had led the "Max Weinberg 7" since 1993--first on "Late Night" and then on the "Tonight Show," where the band was dubbed "Max Weinberg and the Tonight Show Band." It has been announced that band member Jimmy Vivino will take the reins when "Conan" premieres on TBS in November.

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