Kevin Eubanks to leave ‘Tonight Show’

Leno's longtime band director to exit in six weeks

Kevin Eubanks, Jay Leno’s longtime band director, has set a date for his exit.

As had been expected, Eubanks is planning to depart “Tonight” in order to pursue other musical endeavors. On Monday’s “Tonight,” Eubanks confirmed that he would depart in six weeks.

“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.”

Leno told Eubanks that his tenure had been “ed: “a pleasure. You’ve been a great friend and really supportive. When those jokes die, I gotta look to you man.”

Eubanks took over as Leno’s bandleader in 1995 after the exit of his original “Tonight Show” band leader, Branford Marsalis.

Although rumors have surfaced of potential replacements — gossip has ranged from Hootie and the Blowfish singer Darius Rucker to Max Weinberg — no replacement has been named.

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