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The CBS Orchestra is the house band that plays for David Letterman's CBS late-night talk show, Late Show with David Letterman. "CBS Orchestra" may also refer to one of several orchestras once heard on the CBS Radio Network, including the CBS Symphony Orchestra, the CBS Pan American Orchestra, the Columbia Concert Orchestra, and, simply, the CBS Orchestra, as well as local CBS Orchestras.

Late Night and Late Show house band

The CBS Orchestra in its current form was previously known as The World's Most Dangerous Band during the group's tenure as the house band for NBC's Late Night with David Letterman from 1982 to 1993. The group was forced to rename itself when NBC claimed that the name "The World's Most Dangerous Band" was its intellectual property. The current name alludes to the NBC Orchestra, which was the house band for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

The band has no direct relationship to the former CBS Orchestras, and is not featured on CBS programming outside of The Late Show.

For the April 6, 2001, show, the band expanded to 50 players to become the CBS Giant Orchestra with 16 violins, 8 violas, 4 celli, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, 1 bass trombone, 4 saxophones, 2 harps, 1 keyboard, and 1 percussionist.

The World's Most Dangerous Band

Beyond the Late Show

Besides being the house band for The Late Show, the group has also been the house band for the Rock and Roll Hall of Famemarker induction ceremonies since 1986. In 1999, the group was the back-up band for the Concert of the Century at the White Housemarker, In 2001, they also served as the backup band for the The Concert for New York City where they performed with David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy, Macy Gray, and James Taylor.


  • 1989: Paul Shaffer, Coast to Coast (Capitol Recordsmarker)
  • 1993: Paul Shaffer & the Party Boys of Rock 'n' Roll, The World's Most Dangerous Party (SBK Records, Capitol Records)



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