The Saturday Night Live Band (also referred to as The Live Band) is the house band of the NBC television program Saturday Night Live (SNL).
The band has featured many studio musicians from New York, including Paul Shaffer (1975-1980), Lou Marini (1975-1983), David Sanborn (1975), Michael Brecker, Ray Chew (1980-1983), Alan Rubin (1975-1983), Georg Wadenius (1979-1985), Steve Ferrone (1985), and Tom "Bones" Malone, who served as leader of the band from 1981 to 1985. Guitarist G. E. Smith was director from 1985 until 1995. Drummer Matt Chamberlain (1991-1992) is also the former drummer for Pearl Jam. Guitarist Lukasz Gottwald, the guitarist since 1997, left the band in 2007 and became a producer. In 1991, Christine Ohlman, otherwise known as the "Beehive Queen" joined the band as their lead vocalist.
Role on Saturday Night Live:
The band consists of mostly jazz, R&B, and some rock musicians and features a strong horn section. They normally play the opening theme music (after the cold opening), musical pieces in between commercial breaks, and the closing theme music. Occasionally, the band will provide the music to a sketch when necessary.
Band leaders and musical directors:
Howard Shore served as the original band leader and musical director from 1975 until 1980, when he was succeeded by jazz musician Kenny Vance for the 1980-1981 season. David Spinozza was the conductor in 1980 and guitarist in 1981. During the 1975-1980 period, the band was sometimes referred to as "Howard Shore and his All-Nurse Band". On two occasions, the almost entirely-male band appeared on camera in women's nursing uniforms as they accompanied songs performed by guest hosts (Lily Tomlin singing "Saint James Infirmary" with the band also performing back-up vocals; and Jill Clayburgh singing "Sea Cruise"). Original band member Tom Malone took over leadership duties during executive producer Dick Ebersol's tenure from 1981 to 1985. Keyboardist Cheryl Hardwick co-directed the band with Hall & Oates guitarist G. E. Smith from 1985 until 1995. Upon Smith's departure, longtime band saxophonist Lenny Pickett (who has been a member of the band since 1985) became co-director, then became the sole musical director upon Hardwick's retirement in 2000. Longtime SNL band-member and keyboardist Leon Pendarvis (who has been a member of the band since 1980) was promoted to second musical director.
Sanborn returned to SNL as the show's lead saxophonist for the 1979-80 season, and was featured as a musical guest in the latter half of said season. He returned seven years later, while Shaffer hosted the show in 1987. Shore, Shaffer, Hardwick, and Smith are also among those band members who appeared in sketches during their tenures.
Mariah Carey utilized the horn section of the Saturday Night Live Band (Lew Delgatto, Lenny Pickett, George Young, Earl Gardner, and Steve Turre) for her performance of "If It's Over" during her 1992 MTV Unplugged special.
Katy Perry used the Saturday Night Live horn section on her 2013 song "Birthday" (a song she says was inspired by Mariah Carey).
As of the 2011-2012 season, the members of the Saturday Night Live Band are:
Ron Blake - Baritone Saxophone, Flute,
Alex Foster - Alto Saxophone,
Earl Gardner - Trumpet,
James Genus - Bass Guitar,
Valerie Naranjo - Percussion,
Leon Pendarvis - Piano, Organ, Co-Musical Director,
Shawn Pelton - Drums,
Lenny Pickett - Tenor Saxophone (1985-present), Co-Musical Director (1995-present),
Jared Scharff - Electric Guitar,
Steve Turre - Trombone,
Tuffus Zimbabwe - Piano, Organ,
Alto Saxophone - Howard Shore, David Sanborn, Lawrence Feldman, George Young,
Tenor Saxophone - Lou Marini, Michael Brecker,
Baritone Saxophone - Mauricio Smith, Lew Del Gatto, George Young, Ronnie Cuber, Lino Gomez,
Bass Saxophone/Tuba - Howard Johnson, (from season 6 using only 3 saxophones),
Trumpet - Alan Rubin, Tom Malone,
Trombone - Tom Malone,
Bass Guitar - Bob Cranshaw, Marcus Miller, Neil Jason, Tom Barney, Tom "T-Bone" Wolk, Tony Garnier, Paul Ossola,
Electric Guitar - Bert Jones, Georg Wadenius, David Spinozza, G. E. Smith, Yoshiko Hirashige, Dr. Luke,
Keyboard 1 - Paul Shaffer,
Keyboard 2 - Cheryl Hardwick, Ray Chew, Chris Palmaro,
Drums - David Shaw, Steve Jordan, Buddy Williams, Steve Ferrone, Chris Parker, Matt Chamberlain,
Vocalist - Christine Ohlman,
Musical Director - Howard Shore (1975-1980), Kenny Vance (1980-1981), G. E. Smith (1985-1995)
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