Max Weinberg, Conan O Brien

Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage; Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

Put away your conspiracy theories. Max Weinberg's unexpected departure from Conan has a perfectly reasonable—and rather worrying—explanation.

While laughter may be the best medicine, Conan O'Brien's longtime bandleader needed something a little stronger recently, revealing that he underwent "massively invasive open-heart surgery" earlier this year, a "life-changing" event that he says led to his decision to bow out of Team CoCo's latest late-night venture.

Weinberg broke the news when he was inevitably asked about the story behind his 17-year partnership with O'Brien.

"I can make a little news here, which I haven't talked about to anybody, but on Feb. 8, I came to the end of a 26-year watchful, waiting odyssey that culminated in 12 hours of massively invasive open-heart surgery," he told Fancast.

Weinberg said it was not a bypass, but instead a valve repair, and a condition he's been aware of and monitoring for a little more than a quarter century.

"As I got older, it got worse," he said. "Two years ago, it became life-threatening and I had to do something about it sooner or later. I did it two weeks after [Conan's Tonight Show] went off the air.

"I'll tell you it was a life-changing experience emotionally and spiritually. I owe my life to these doctors…I was on the heart-lung bypass machine for close to seven hours. Did it play into my decision to remain where I am [in New Jersey]? Maybe. I mean, I had three months of very difficult recovery."

And as for the Conan-Jay Leno brouhaha, Weinberg proved himself something of the understatement king, as he called the whole scenario "very weird and awkward," particularly for the 100 or so staffers who relocated along with O'Brien to Los Angeles.

"It was very dramatic," he said. "At my age, just being in this business for as long as I've been, nothing really surprises me, particularly in the landscape of television. [But] any abrupt ending to anything is shocking."

And while their mutually admiring statements upon the announcement of Weinberg's departure pretty much proved there were no hard feelings between the talk host and his one-time right-hand man (uh, after you, of course, Andy), Weinberg said he will "absolutely" be watching his old boss when Conan debuts on TBS Nov. 8.

"I hope they do wonderfully well. I'm sure they will," he said. "[Conan] is a brilliant, hard worker. I've been fortunate to have people like Bruce [Springsteen, obvs] and Conan—you don't run into guys like that very often."

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