The late-night talk show turnover machine keeps churning, as Tuesday brought news that one day after Jay Leno lost longtime bandleader Kevin Eubanks, he quickly picked up a replacement: "American Idol" music director Rickey Minor.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Minor will make his debut on "The Tonight Show" on June 7, just after Eubanks' departure in May and the season-nine finale of "Idol" on May 26.
"It is a privilege for all of us to have Rickey on board," said Debbie Vickers, "Tonight Show" executive producer. "We couldn't be more excited. The 'Tonight Show' has a long tradition of acclaimed musicians in this role, and it's great to now include Rickey alongside Kevin and Branford [Marsalis]."
Minor, a mostly off-camera presence on "Idol," does bring a musical pedigree, with a long résumé as a musical director for Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys and Beyoncé, among others, as well as gigs overseeing the music for the Super Bowl, People's Choice Awards and Grammy Awards. It's doubtful that Minor could juggle both "AI" and "Tonight," so it's assumed he would leave his current gig. A spokesperson could not be reached for comment at press time on who might replace him on "Idol," which will also be facing the loss of lead judge Simon Cowell at the end of this season.
Eubanks joined Leno in 1992, when the comedian took over the "Tonight Show" post, and was elevated to musical director in 1995 when Marsalis departed. On Monday, he formally announced that he'd be stepping down from the gig.