Now that we know that Jimmy Fallon is officially taking over The Tonight Show from Jay Leno in 2014, there's one big question remaining: Will the Roots go with him? The Grammy-winning band has been one of the integral parts of Fallon's success since The Roots are a) undeniably good, b) undeniably cool, and c) frequent participants in Fallon's sketches. They help him slow jam the news. They comprise the members of Black Simon and Garfunkel. They play classroom instruments with famous singers. They once made Michele Bachmann mad. In a column back in July, James Poniewozik of Time called The Roots "accompanyists, co-conspirators and a kind of musical Greek chorus" for Fallon. Dan DeLuca of The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote, when wondering whether The Roots would come to The Tonight Show last month, "the reason Mr. Fallon's show has so much cred basically boils down to The Roots." Anyone who watches Fallon will tell you that the show would be far inferior without The Roots.
One would assume that Fallon knows how much The Roots mean to his brand, and would not choose to take on something like The Tonight Show without them following him, but it was not clear from NBC's official statement whether or not The Roots would be coming along. Bill Carter's story on the subject also didn't mention the band. Rebecca Marks of NBC publicity told the Atlantic Wire: "We have no announcements at this time" regarding the subject. This lack of confirmation has concerned some on Twitter.
As for the band itself? Members have been tweeting in vague terms. After news of Fallon's succession broke Questlove said:
What's this about The Tonight Show?— Questo of The Roots (@questlove) April 3, 2013
Damon "Tuba Gooding Jr." Bryson, meanwhile, has simply been retweeting Fallon's good news from a variety of sources:
Keyboardist James Poyser had this to say:
Times a'changing....— JamesPoyser (@jamespoyser) April 3, 2013
All of which perhaps suggest The Roots are in fact going to The Tonight Show—if you want to read it that way—but none of it explicitly confirms it.
It wouldn't be unprecedented for a band to come with a host to a new gig. Paul Shaffer, for instance, followed David Letterman from NBC to CBS when he moved from Fallon's current slot to the 11:35 hour. Max Weinberg also went with Conan O'Brien from his edition of Late Night to The Tonight Show, even though he is not currently on the host's TBS show.
NBC and Fallon would be silly to attempt The Tonight Show move without The Roots. One reason? Note the folks on Twitter hoping they are part of the new gig:
If Fallon leaves The Roots behind, he leaves behind some of what's best about Fallon.