There’s an online rumor that the Roots will retire from touring in March 2009 to become comedian Jimmy Fallon’s house band when the SNL vet replaces Conan O’Brien as the host of NBC’s Late Night next year. According to the Internet grapevine, the Philadelphia hip-hop band’s drummer/producer, Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, reportedly broke the news in Chicago last week. A YouTube clip featuring Ahmir talking about the announcement has been yanked off the site. There was also a recent post about it on the Roots’ website, but that too has mysteriously vanished, suggesting that things are not fully decided just yet. In addition to that disappearing post, there was a long thread on the band’s Okayplayer message board earlier this week, where Ahmir was explaining/clarifying some stuff to worried fans. Basically, he saying that they weren’t totally retiring, just scaling back touring by a lot, so that they could do the Fallon gig and settle down a bit. (Fair enough, considering they’ve been on the road for, like, 13 years straight with no breaks.) Anyway, now that message board thread has been deleted as well.
So, what’s the deal? In response to my request for comment, an NBC rep told me the rumor is “not confirmable,” which leads me to believe this announcement was a little premature, or the network wasn’t ready to go public with it, or whatever. Perhaps they’re still in some sort of negotiations about the terms and Ahmir just spilled the beans before he was supposed to. I’m waiting find out if the band’s rep at Island Def Jam can get me on the phone with Ahmir to clarify this matter. If that happens, I’ll be sure to update this post ASAP. (Additional reporting by Simon Vozick-Levinson and Leah Greenblatt)