VIDEO: Kevin Eubanks Leaving Tonight Show In May

Apr. 13 2010, Published 9:40 a.m. ET

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Kevin Eubanks has made it official: the jazz guitarist and band leader is leaving The Tonight Show with Jay Leno after 18-years, can report.

Eubanks’ rumored departure from the show was first leaked months ago, but on Monday’s The Tonight Show,  Eubanks, 52, confirmed his last day with the program would be on May 28th.

Eubanks joined Leno on the couch to break the news, and when Leno asked why he was leaving, Eubanks explained: "After 18 years, I just need a change of pace and see what else is going on," Eubanks said. "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 and the American people really love the show, and it's been a wonderful experience to be here."

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Leno praised Eubanks, saying:  "It has been a pleasure. You've been a great friend and really supportive. When those jokes die, I gotta look to you, man You’ve been great."

When Leno asked what was next for him, Eubanks jokingly said, "After 18 years of playing America in to commercials, I'm gonna go somewhere where I can finish a song."


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In an interview afterward, Eubanks said he had no specific plans and was “keeping everything open.”

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Eubanks – who’s played on more than 100 albums and founded his own record label --  first joined the Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 1992, and three years later,  was named its  musical director,  replacing Branford Marsalis.

NBC has not announced Eubanks replacement yet.



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