Lawrence Welk’s charming leadership of The Tonight Show band with Johnny Carson

Lawrence Welk and Johnny Carson

Lawrence Welk is one of America’s most beloved band leaders. His unique style and love for music were infectious to TV viewers over three decades. There was a famous night when Lawrence took over ‘The Tonight Show’ band.

 Lawrence Welk

Lawrence walks out to the theme song of his show that the ‘Tonight Show’ band plays for him. Lawrence compliments their playing, and he jokes, saying they are auditioning just in case the ‘Tonight Show’ falls through.

Johnny asks how long Lawrence has been working on television, and he responds, “I started in ’51 at KTLA for 4 years, and July 2nd, 1955, we went Coast to Coast. We’ve been on television ever since.”

 Lawrence Welk and Johnny Carson

Johnny says it’s remarkable that it is their 20th year of having the show. Later in the interview, Johnny asks what was Lawrence’s favorite show to be a part of, and he says it was the one where they paid tribute to Duke Ellington.

Lawrence said he got ‘Goose pimples’ all over himself while watching and listening. He said the band played tremendously, and it was an amazing thing to see. Johnny asks if Lawrence would like to have the opportunity to lead the ‘Tonight Show’ band. Earlier, Lawrence said it was something he had always wanted to do. So Lawrence smiles, gets up in shock, and walks to the band.

 Lawrence Welk and Johnny Carson

Lawrence asks if they have anything with a swing feel to it. The band leader says they have a song called ‘Nifty Rip.’ Lawrence counts them off, saying, “A-1-e-and-a-2-e-and-a.”

The band begins to play, and Lawrence waves his hands. In the middle of the tune, Johnny and band leader, Doc Severinsen, start to dance around in a goofy way, and the crowd laughs.

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Lawrence Welk\'s charming leadership of The Tonight Show band with Johnny Carson