Jimmy Fallon’s Best Classic Rock Impressions
Remember that time we found out what it would have sounded like if Jim Morrison performed the ‘Reading Rainbow’ theme?
He’s a ‘Saturday Night Live’ veteran, Hollywood star, and one of the reigning kings of late night — in fact, Jimmy Fallon will take over ‘The Tonight Show in Feb. 2014, stepping in for Jay Leno after two successful (and mostly unbroken) decades at the helm. But he’s also a gifted musical mimic, and over the years he’s used his talents to imitate some of classic rock’s finest, both on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and on the long-running ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.’ Presented in no particular order, here are some of our favorites.
Jim Morrison’s melodramatic singing style and stage presence were almost a parody unto themselves, so to get a good laugh out of mocking the Lizard King, you’ve got to step up your game. Fallon did just that, imagining what it would have been like if Morrison performed the ‘Reading Rainbow’ theme song in his signature style.
Like Jim Morrison, Neil Young is pretty easy to make fun of — just throw on some old flannel rags, strum a couple of chords, and do your best impression of a cat in heat. But few have really gotten inside Young’s musical and vocal persona the way Fallon has, which is why he keeps returning to this routine for material — although we doubt he’ll ever top the surreal sight of seeing Fallon-as-Young singing ‘Sexy and I Know It’ and ‘Whip My Hair’ alongside Bruce Springsteen.
Comedians have been imitating Bob Dylan’s distinctive nasal whine for decades, but we don’t think anyone else has ever thought to apply it to a sitcom theme we all hate ourselves for knowing by heart.
When Fallon hosted the Emmys in 2010, everyone expected him to do a few musical numbers — and he didn’t disappoint, spoofing Springsteen in the opening number before slipping into a number of impressions (including Elton John and Green Day) during a tribute to the series that ended that year.
Not just Bowie, but Tebowie, a perfectly bizarre amalgam of the Thin White Duke and meme-triggering NFL quarterback. Here, Fallon treats his audience to a Tebowied rendition of ‘Rebel, Rebel.’
Mick Jagger has demonstrated a pretty killer sense of humor about himself on ‘Saturday Night Live‘ over the years, including the uproarious skit where he played Keith Richards while Mike Myers pretended to be Mick. This clip, which finds Fallon across from Jagger on the other side of a “mirror,” may not be as funny as its predecessor, but it comes close.
Mock Van Morrison at your own peril. Even now that he’s in his late 60s, the infamously onerous Irish bard has been known to fell foes with little more than a well-timed, basilisk-like stare — which may explain why this ‘SNL’ sketch is a little tamer than most.
If Fallon never accomplishes anything else in his career, he’ll always have this to fall back on: after debuting his ‘Barry Gibb Talk Show’ skit on ‘SNL,’ he made the idea of the erstwhile Bee Gee as a daytime host seem not only appealing, but downright necessary.
On paper, the idea of taking Pearl Jam‘s ‘Jeremy’ — a song about a homicidal kid, in case you slept through 1992 — and recasting it as a tribute to basketball star Jeremy Lin might seem misguided at best, distasteful at worst. Somehow, though, Fallon’s puppy-like enthusiasm overwhelmed our objections, earning his Eddie Vedder impression a spot on our list.