Rickey Minor leaving American Idol to join Jay Leno

American Idol musical director Rickey Minor is leaving one mediocre show for even more mediocre show: he’ll become the band leader on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, replacing Kevin Eubanks, who announced he was leaving yesterday.

NBC announced that he’ll start work June 7, a few weeks after American Idol 9 ends, and said that “Minor will continue to consult and work with ‘American Idol’ creator Simon Fuller on various projects.” The Tonight Show’s executive producer, Debbie Vickers, said in a statement, “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.”

Minor’s role—or at least, visibility—on Idol has become, yes, minor over the past few seasons, especially since the redesigned stage moved the band up into the rafters where they might as well be on tape for all we can tell.

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