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The Tonight Show Has A New Bandleader

A few weeks ago we reported that Kevin Eubanks was leaving The Tonight Show with Jay Leno after 18 years. Now, less than 24 hours after making an official announcement, NBC has hired a replacement.

NBC hired American Idol’s musical director Rickey Minor as the new band leader of The Tonight Show. Conveniently, Eubanks will leave his position as bandleader just as Idol goes on hiatus at the end of May.

“We couldn’t be more excited,” said Tonight Show executive producer Debbie Vickers. “[The show] has a long tradition of acclaimed musicians in this role, and it’s great to now include Rickey alongside Kevin and Branford (Marsalis).”

But don’t think Eubanks is taking the move lightly. “After 18 years, I just need a change of pace and see what else is going on,” said Eubanks. “But it’s a really difficult decision because this has become my second home, as it has been for the band, and I love the audience people really love the show and its been a wonderful experience to be here,” he added.

Minor will leave Idol to replace Eubanks on June 7.

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