Saturday Night Live Band

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Saturday Night Live Band
Also known as
  • The Live Band
OriginNew York City, New York, United States
Years active1975–present
Associated acts
Past membersSee below

The Saturday Night Live Band (referred to in the closing credits as The Live Band) is the house band of the NBC television program Saturday Night Live (SNL).

Noteworthy members[edit]

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 a former member of Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, has played drums for Pearl Jam, Tori Amos, and Fiona Apple and is a very in demand session drummer. Lukasz Gottwald, also known as Dr. Luke, was the guitarist from 1997 until he left the band in 2007 to focus on his work as a producer. In 1991, Christine Ohlman, otherwise known as the "Beehive Queen" joined the band as their lead vocalist. David Johansen (using his persona of Buster Poindexter) often appeared as a feature player with the band in the late 1980s.

Role on Saturday Night Live[edit]

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 "Closing Theme (Waltz in A)," written by Howard Shore.[1] Often, the band will provide the music to a sketch when necessary.

Band leaders and musical directors[edit]

Howard Shore served as the original band leader and musical director from 1975 until 1980, when he was succeeded by singer and music producer 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"). They also appeared once dressed in angel costumes for "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" with the cast members singing, and a rare featured bass saxophone solo. Original band member Tom Malone took over leadership duties during executive producer Dick Ebersol's tenure from 1981 to 1985. Keyboardist and founding member 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 bandmember and keyboardist Leon Pendarvis (who has been a member of the band since 1980) was promoted to second musical director.

Katreese Barnes also served as the music director for a time, around the year 2000.[2] [3]

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.

Other projects[edit]

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).



  • Gregory Bloch – violin, mandolin (1979–1980)
  • Bob Cranshaw – bass guitar (1975–1978)
  • Cheryl Hardwick – piano, organ (1975–1980, 1985–2000)
  • Howard Johnson – bass saxophone, tuba (1975–1980)
  • Bert Jones – electric guitar (1975–1980)
  • Tom Malone – trombone, trumpet (1975–1985)
  • Lou Marini – tenor saxophone (1975–1983)
  • Alan Rubin – trumpet (1975–1983)
  • Paul Shaffer – piano, organ (1975–1980)
  • David Shaw – drums (1975–1977)
  • Howard Shore – alto saxophone (1975–1980)
  • Mauricio Smith – baritone saxophone (1975–1976)
  • Lew Del Gatto – baritone saxophone (1977–1980, 1985–1995, 1998–2005)
  • Steve Jordan – drums (1977–1978)
  • Buddy Williams – drums (1978–1985)
  • Georg Wadenius – electric guitar (1979–1985)
  • Elliott Randall - electric guitar (1979-1980)
  • David Spinozza – electric guitar (1979–1982)
  • Marcus Miller – bass guitar (1978–1980)
  • George Young – alto and baritone saxophones (1979–1980, 1990–1995)
  • Ray Chew – piano, organ (1980–1983)
  • Michael Brecker – tenor saxophone (1980–1985)
  • Ronnie Cuber – baritone saxophone (1980–1983)
  • Lawrence Feldman – alto saxophone (1980–1983)
  • Neil Jason – bass guitar (1980–1983)
  • Chris Palmaro – piano, organ (1980–1983)
  • David Sanborn – alto saxophone (1980)
  • Tom Barney – bass guitar (1983–1985, 1995–2000)
  • Tom Wolk – bass guitar (1985–1991)
  • Steve Ferrone – drums (1985–1986)
  • Chris Parker – drums (1986–1991)
  • G.E. Smith – electric guitar (1985–1995)
  • Buster Poindexter – vocals (1986–1987)
  • Tony Garnier – bass guitar (1987–1989)
  • Matt Chamberlain – drums (1991–1992)
  • Paul Ossola – bass guitar (1991–1995)
  • Jane Getter – electric guitar (1995)
  • Lino Gomez – baritone saxophone (1995–1998)
  • Yoshino Hirashige – electric guitar (1995–1997)
  • Lukasz Gottwald – electric guitar (1997–2007)
  • Katreese Barnes – piano, organ (2000–2010)[2]



  1. ^ Darr, Deanna (May 16, 2013). "On the Record: 'Tapestry,' SNL songs close, but not the same". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Barnes, Katreese. "Katreese Barnes - HOME". Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "New York University – Alumni Profile: SNL Band Members". Retrieved 2014-08-22.
  5. ^ James Egolf (2008-08-15). "Live from L.A.: SNL''s Jared Scharff". Retrieved 2014-08-22.

External links[edit]