Late Show Shocker: Jon Batiste Leaving After 7 Seasons as Bandleader — Find Out Who's Replacing Him

Major shakeup at The Late Show: Stephen Colbert announced Thursday that Jon Batiste would be stepping down as bandleader, effectively immediately, ending his tenure off screen.

“Sharp-eyed viewers may have noticed that Jon hasn’t been here this summer. Well, I have an update: Jon has decided to leave the show,” Colbert said. “But it’s for all the best reasons, including to continue to share his art with the world. We wanted to give him a big, in-person sendoff, but Jon’s not in town. I hope he’s cutting his new album, and I hope it’s called ‘More Grammys Please.’

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“We’ve been so lucky to have a front row seat to Jon’s incredible talent for the past seven years,” the host continued. “And will we miss him here? ‘Yeah!’ But we’re happy for you, Jon, and I can’t wait to have you back on as guest with your next hit record.”

In turn, Stay Human fixture Louis Cato, who has served as interim bandleader this summer, will take over on a permanent basis when The Late Show returns for Season 8 on Tuesday, Sept. 6 — at which point Stay Human will be renamed The Late Show Band. He will be joined by Joe Saylor, who has been with the show since its 2015 launch, along with longtime house band members Louis Fouché, Jon Lampley, Endea Owens and Nêgah Santos.

Stephen Colbert, Louis Cato
Stephen Colbert, Louis Cato

“Louis has done a great job this summer,” Colbert said. “And he is very humble, so he won’t say this, but I will: He’s a musical genius. He can play basically every instrument over there. Give him an afternoon, he’ll learn how to play Mozart on a shoehorn.”

Added Cato: “It has been one of the great honors of my life to work on this show, alongside some of the most talented musicians and creatives I know. Watching and learning from both Jon and Stephen for these past seven years, I’m genuinely excited to continue the tradition of excellence they’ve established.”

Batiste’s star has steadily risen over the past couple years. In 2020, he co-composed the score for Pixar’s Soul (along with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross), for which he received an Oscar, a Golden Globe Award, a Grammy Award and a BAFTA Film Award. He took home four additional Grammys in 2022, including Best Music Video (for “Freedom”) and Album of the Year (for “We Are”).

Late on Friday, Batiste acknowledged his Late Show departure, simply tweeting: “Thank God for Stephen Colbert ♥️.”

Will you miss Batiste on The Late Show? Sad to see him go without a proper, on-screen sendoff? Hit the comments with your reactions to the news.

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