April 13th, 2010
10:54 AM ET

Kevin Eubanks announces his 'Tonight Show' departure

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It’s a wrap for Kevin Eubanks and “The Tonight Show.”

The bandleader announced during Monday night’s show that he is definitely leaving after 18 years. Eubanks plopped down in the guest seat and told boss Jay Leno that he felt it was time to move on.

“It’s been 18 years,” Eubanks said. “There are some other things I want to … hopefully keep a mind open for, other things I want to get to. After 18 years, you just need a little change of place and to see what else is going on.”

He said he hopes to spend more time with family members and praised his time on the show. He'll continue on "Tonight" for the next six weeks.

Leno, in turn, had kind words for Eubanks, who often played straight man to the host, and revealed to the audience that the pair have developed a strong friendship over the years.

“Kevin and I go on our date nights,” Leno said. “We have to see, like, every bad movie.”

soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Sandra

    You are so mean...Get back to your whale....
    ....And don't come back!!

    April 14, 2010 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
  2. NormanP

    That's nothing. I haven't watched the Tonight Show since Johnny left. Jay sucks and Conan sucked when he was the host. Haven't seen anyone that can replace Johnny.


    April 13, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Musica

    Maybe Kevin will finally get to play entire songs again, instead of just 10-second segues.

    April 13, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Brenda

    This makes me sad! I love him, to me he's a big part of the show....I'm gonna cry on his lastnight he airs...for real.

    April 13, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Superviser

    Finally, I can watch “Tonight show” without Kevin’s forced laughter.

    April 13, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. "ANNIE"

    Kev, you are one of a kind. I don't think Jay willl be able to find a replacement for you . What will happen to your band and the terrific singer you have in your band ?? I wish the best for you and Jay. I think you and Jay are gentle-men. Good luck to you both !!

    April 13, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chief

    I think a few people missed one important part of the article and that was that Jay and Kevin do things together OUTSIDE of work. These are friends not just co-workers. I am sure that Kevin has been well compensated over the years and may feel (financially) comfortable enough to be able to try other things. If you don't like Jay than watch Letterman or someone else....that's why there is more than one channel on TV.

    April 13, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |

    I think Doc is still available.

    April 13, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. beast

    Jay why don't you audition former Navy SEAL Curt Campbell? He has a great band and lives here in HellA...His is known as the Beast...go to http://www.eclecticbeastband.com link music...Enjoy....

    April 13, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joe

    First off, "James" is an idiot. Nice slam against typicaladam--except calling him illiterate not only failed to make sense, but you spelled it wrong! Ahahaha! I laughed harder at that than I ever have at Leno... Congratulations to Kevin, who is apparently the only one on that set who knows when it's time to quit.
    Can't wait for November....

    April 13, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Leonard

    **"other things I want to"...it's sad that NBC and Leno curve the truth and DON'T just say they don't want to pay him.

    April 13, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Leonard

    "other things I want to"...it's sad that NBC and Leno curve the truth and just say they don't want to pay him.

    April 13, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. fran glass

    i find people's passionate defense of Jay Leno (and his "comedy") funny. Really people.. don't get so upset... it's not that serious. Jay Leno will still exist even if the rest of us realize he is not funny.
    jay leno does not care about you. don't stress out defending his honor... lol

    it will be ok. i promise. relax.

    April 13, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jim Dakis

    Kevin is very gifted what ever he dose will be great

    April 13, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Redbone Diva


    April 13, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Floyd

    Right, Jay's show, the highest rated late night show right now, is a sinking ship?

    even in the face of facts the conan fanboys can't keep their crap off the net.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  17. David B.

    Well said, James. What next? Eubanks is leaving because Tiger woods lost his temper a the master's and slept with Eubank's wife hence why Eubank's is leaving? Talking about connecting imaginary dots. People are so ignorant....

    April 13, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  18. James

    typicaladam, the occurances of two events does not prove mutual exclusivity nor provide proof that one event is the cause of another. If you're too illeterate to process this notion, keep it to yourself.

    Like you would know what it's like to leave a sweet job in show business...

    April 13, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  19. moon627

    i remember hearing the news that Kevin was leaving several months ago and i thought maybe he'd changed his mind – too bad – he's been an asset to the show and you can tell he and Jay are good buddies. Kevin will be missed.

    Is it just him leaving or the entire band ? I can see one of the other band members (Smitty) stepping in to play straightman to Jays jokes...he doesnt need a sidekick like Conan does.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Joelan3

    I'm surprised it took so long. Branford Marsalis left after a short gig on Leno claiming In an interview with Marc D. Allen of the Indianapolis Star and News, Marsalis said, The job of musical director I found out later was just to kiss the a- of the host, and I ain't no a- kisser. I didn't realize that at the time. I thought we had this rapport, that would employ a Black sensibility.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  21. John

    I don't want to be one to start rumor or gossip but if you notice that Jim Carey and Jenny McCarthy broke up and then well Kardashian and Reggie Bush now too...well now we have Kevin leaving....hmmm doesn't that seem a bit odd? We had the Tiger Woods incident... so tell me why are all the Black men leaving their women?? Is it a coincidence? I don't think so....oh wait, Carey's not black... OH well never mind. Guess you should listen to everything someone says...huh?

    April 13, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  22. typicaladam

    You don't just leave a sweet job like that in show business. It's no coincidence that he's bailing out after the Conan travesty. Weinburg wouldn't bail on Conan, Schaffer wouldn't bail on Letterman. What you have here is the first rat off a sinking ship.

    April 13, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Lloyd Herrman

    Kevin Eubanks was a successful musician before Leno, he will do just fine after Leno. If you don't like Leno, don't watch him. Some people probably think you are not very funny either!

    April 13, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Linda Patterson

    Sure gonna miss ya! Take care.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  25. peter pan the man


    April 13, 2010 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  26. peter pan the man

    Jay Leno is not funny.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  27. AJ

    Most people don't know this, but Kevin is one of the most incredible jazz guitarists on the planet. If anything, perhaps his departure will free up more time to pursue less commercial, more creative activities. We certainly haven't heard the last of him.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  28. ALEX!~

    Kevin is The ONLY Side Kick worth Anything!! Good Luck Buddy!!

    April 13, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  29. ALEX!~

    Jonas you SUCK!!

    April 13, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Ty

    I'm with Jonas on this one. If I had to sit there and laugh at Leno's dated and bland jokes night after night, I would have snapped long ago. I'm sure Kevin will be very successful in his future endeavors.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Lola

    You poor man, I don't know how you stood it as long as you did. Your face must hurt from all the fake grinning. Brandford got the hell out of Dodge and you should too. I know there must be a guitarist out there somewhere who has a Ph.D in ass kissing.

    April 13, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  32. dman

    Im kind of mad that he is going to leave the show. His laugh was so distinctive, so funny. I always laughed at his laugh. Wonder who Leno is going to get for a replacement.

    April 13, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  33. missy

    I just hope Jay doesn't get some lame guy to take Kevin's place.
    Kevin, besides being a good artist is a very likeable and personable
    person and he will be greatly missed

    April 13, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Pat Hanford

    Like Letterman thinking he's funny clearing his throat a half dozen times (this seems to amuse Letterman greatly), Leno's monologues have become very stale. Okay, maybe each of Leno's first 12,000 every night 'fat jokes' were funny, but c'mon with all the weird news out there...this is the best the 'Tonight' writers can do? As for Kevin? I think many of us like Kevin just fine. Good luck and best wishes Kevin.

    April 13, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  35. kit e. kat

    Kevin is awesome! Leno's show will NOT be the same without. His laugh is infectious

    April 13, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  36. David

    I'm sure Kevin thought he would be retiring when Leno passed the Tonight Show to O'Brien. Then Jay got his 10 pm spot. Ok so then maybe he'd go when the Jay Leno Show was cancelled. Oops...they move Jay back to the Tonight Show. I think he's been hoping to retire for some time!!

    April 13, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Raj Springfield, VA

    Kevin is wise. He see's no future in this tonight show with Jay Leno.
    Who know's probably he has signed with TBS!!!!

    April 13, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  38. K Strickland

    .. i think after 18 years he has a enough money to live comfortably sandra he just wants to do something else for a change.. good luck,and god bless KEV..

    April 13, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Head Diva In Charge

    I think that 18 years is certainly long enough. Seems that they are ending things on a good note. At this point, the press would be all over it if they didn't.

    April 13, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  40. max

    Kevin has great musical talent. Maybe he just wants to hang out, wrtie some tunes, relax with his family. After 18 yrs, I'll bet he is tired and just wants a break. Best of luck, Kevin. You will be misssed.

    April 13, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Jackie Kennedy

    not a bad move, 18 years enough time at one job. More on to bigger and better. Obviously, it's not the money, he wants to be happy. Oh how I long to be happy at my job.

    April 13, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  42. I love Sandra

    Good luck to Kevin, but I think it's a bad move for him financially. He's going to go into obscurity, but if it makes him happy, that's what ultimately counts.

    April 13, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Me

    It seemed he almost threw-up in his mouth at Jay's lame and terrible jokes.

    April 13, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Kevin

    Jonas, apparently no one told you the difference between opinion and fact. He wasnt forcing it for 18 years. The fact that you don't find Leno funny doesn;t mean Kevin doesn't, or anyone else for that matter.

    April 13, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Binghamton Area Metalfest

    Jay Leno doesn't tell jokes, he just makes fun of people. He hasn't said anyting funny since he took over the tonight show (the first time)...

    April 13, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  46. prankster

    Try Walmart-the Get A Life Department!

    April 13, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Curt

    I would have liked more Kevin and less Jay, myself.

    April 13, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  48. conanfan

    would love it if he showed up on tbs with conan!

    April 13, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  49. Deedee

    Jonas I agree 🙂

    April 13, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  50. Javid

    Please Jonas, as Prankster says, GET A LIFE!!

    April 13, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  51. prankster

    Get a life.

    April 13, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  52. Jonas

    I bet that guy is happy as hell that he can finally stop pretending to laugh 40 times every day at completely unfunny boring jokes. That had to be hell. Imagine the relief he is feeling.

    April 13, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  53. Eddie Velez

    So sad he's gone :'(

    April 13, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |

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