Late Night with David Letterman 5/16, 1985
Late Night with David Letterman May 16, 1985 Program #552. And May 23, 1991 program # 1476. Only three kinds of people collect this video, Letterman fans, Johnny Carson fans and last and least, Eddie Van Halen fans. In the 1985 segment, Eddie sits in with the band. He is introduced by Letterman in the beginning and isn't seen or heard from until the ending credits. Paul Shaffer introduces Eddie at the begining of the show and you can see his magic 1967 Marshall Super Lead 100 in the background sitting on an old Marshall cab (the same one Hartley Peavey copied for the 5150 cab). Eddie played with the band between the breaks. Johnny Carson even gave Eddie a nod of approval after one song, when the show came back on. Letterman even invited Eddie to sit in the next day and Eddie said "but you guys won't be here." Eddie shreds his distinctive sound for less than a minute while credits flash by.
If you are a fan of classic Johnny Carson and Dave Letterman, this tape has historic value. Johnny is nearing the end of his 25 year dominance of late night entertainment. He is an 800 lb gorilla in the late night wars and Dave is a young hungry lion whose show is produced by Johnny Carson productions and is considered the favorite to succeed Johnny to the late night throne. At this point Johnny is at the end of a 25 year reign of power, hes' only working 2 or 3 days a week and is raking in a reported 5 million per year at NBC. Johnny is a pro here,brings his own props, immediately revives the dead crowd, and saves an otherwise horrible night for Dave. Dave's guests are Lee Marvin who is dour and sarcastic, Dave struggles to get a decent interview or even a laugh here. The show continues with a visit to Mr. Nickolas of Hollywood at his tiny, old school, "Hairpieces to the stars" shop. It's bad. Los angeles Mayor Tom Bradley gives him some cards and a Towel. It's bad.
The 1991 show is strictly a collectible because Johnny is ready to retire and give up his dynasty of dominance as the absolute king of Late Night TV on NBC and slyly announces it on this show. This is a make or break career thing for Dave, Johnny has "auditioned" and courted many stars to inherit his throne, including Bill Cosby, David Brenner, Jay Leno and Joan Rivers. All four were frequent substitute hosts for Johnny in the latter years, and all were contenders. Dave knows this and sucks up appropriately. As we know now, Johnny handed over the empire to Jay Leno,and Dave eventually defected to CBS getting a reported 14 million per year. All in all this tape has little to offer a Van Halen fan. A few glimpses and sounds from EVH are all you get. For a fan of late night talk shows this is great. If you happen to be an Eddie fan as well, then you must add it to your private collection.