Over three decades and across two different networks, Late Night/Late Show host David Letterman has invited literally thousands of musical acts to appear and perform on his program. Of course, not all entertainers are equal, and some have fared much better before the unforgiving lens of the television camera than others. Echoing one of Letterman’s most beloved bits, Pigeons & Planes has compiled its own chronological top 10 list of the greatest musical moments to take place under the watchful eye of the sardonic host.
Some of the moments compiled are noteworthy for the incredible nature of performance like Tom Waits in 1983, Weezer in 1995, and Janelle Monáe in 2010. Other moments make the cut for their historical significance like the Beastie Boys in 1992 or the Strokes a decade later. And some are just plain strange, like Captain Beefheart’s showing in 1982 where he mocks Letterman and proceeds to ramble on semi-coherently for most of the interview or the time Bob Dylan showed up with the Post-Punk outfit the Plugz to back him up for a three song set.
All of the clips are fascinating, and the full list is here.