Recently, The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon has been in the process of getting into the Grateful Dead, thanks in large part to his friend, fellow talk show host, and avowed Deadhead Andy Cohen. Fallon began to publicize his Cohen-assisted descent down the Dead rabbit hole back in September, when he tweeted that he would attend his first-ever Dead & Company show on Halloween and asked for suggestions on what songs he should listen to in preparation.
— jimmy fallon (@jimmyfallon) September 20, 2019
Cohen began to give Fallon three Grateful Dead songs at a time to get his feet wet, and in early October, he welcomed Fallon as a guest on his show, Watch What Happens Live, to quiz him on what he’d learned so far with an amusing “Name That Dead Song” segment. You can watch that clip below:
Andy Cohen Tests Jimmy Fallon’s Grateful Dead Knowledge on Watch What Happens Live
Following the Halloween night show, photos from Jimmy Fallon’s first-ever live Dead experience began to surface online. Below, you can check out some of the posts documenting Jimmy’s first show via John Mayer, Cohen, and Fallon himself, who promised in his post that he’d talk about the experience on The Tonight Show the following Monday:
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I couldn’t ask for a better person to go see my first Dead show with. Thank you @bravoandy and @deadandcompany for an unforgettable time! Truckin’, Uncle John’s Band, Sugar Magnolia and an epic Eyes!!! (At my 1st show?!?!) The Dead fans were next level fun and helpful and really made the experience for me. Thanks to everyone who works @thegarden and my glam squad @cyndieloumakeup and @jakoby for the faces. I’ll talk about it on the show Monday. #ReadyForDead
On the following Monday’s show, true to his word, Fallon issued his review of the Dead & Co Halloween experience, during which he showed the audience the photo of him and Andy in full makeup pictured above. “I went… It was unbelievable,” Jimmy began. “I went with my friend Andy Cohen. He told me to go to the show and [I] was like, ‘I can’t, I’m just gonna be a poseur, I don’t really know all the songs.’ He was like, ‘I’ll give you three songs every week for the next two, three months, and get you ready for this concert—Halloween night, Madison Square Garden.’ And most of them, they played, so I knew almost all the songs. It was totally great, I wore full-on makeup. Cynthia and Jacob did our makeup here, on The Tonight Show. … So it was so fun! I kinda went to this concert and no one knew who I was, [they] couldn’t recognize me. So it was really an interesting concert for me. I loved it, and I gotta say, the band was fantastic. They were just on point that night. John Mayer is just phenomenal, this guy’s unbelievable. They all—I mean, Bob Weir, Mickey [Hart]… everyone was great.”
Fallon continued, “I will say, the thing that made it great was the fans. And I know people talk about that, but the community that they have, they’re so nice. Sure, they’re probably on something [crowd laughs], but they are so nice. They had no idea it was me, and they were like, ‘What’d you think the next song’s gonna be?’ And I didn’t really know, so I just kept saying, ‘Fire on the Mountain’? And they go [nodding], ‘That’s a good call, that’s a good call, bro! That’s cool, bro, I like that idea! I like what you’re thinkin’, man!’ They were so nice, and dancing, and it was Halloween, so people were, like, dressed up, and it was just… What an experience! I haven’t ever had an experience [like that]. If you get a chance, go see Dead & Company. They were fantastic.”
After thanking the band and the Tonight Show makeup artists, Jimmy Fallon closed by thanking Cohen and confirming his newfound fandom: “I wanna thank Andy Cohen for kinda changing my life there. I’m a Deadhead now, I love it.”
In the time since, Fallon has continued to wade into the waters of Grateful Dead fandom. In early 2020, he jumped on stage with fan-favorite tribute band Joe Russo’s Almost Dead at The Capitol Theatre for a medley of un-Dead covers including Neil Young‘s “Fuckin’ Up”, Bruce Springsteen‘s “Born To Run, and The Beatles‘ “Hey Jude”. In February of 2022, he surprised local cover act Stolen Faces at Brooklyn Bowl Nashville to lead the crowd through “Tennessee Jed“.
Welcome to the team, Jimmy. You may not be a full-fledged “Deadhead” yet, but you’re on your way. Here’s to many more life-changing Dead experiences…
— jimmy fallon (@jimmyfallon) November 1, 2019
[Originally published 11/6/19]