By Josh Rottenberg
Updated April 13, 2010 at 12:00 PM EDT
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NBC announced it has hired American Idol music director Rickey Minor to serve as music director of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, replacing Leno’s longtime bandleader Kevin Eubanks, who is stepping down from the job. Minor will make his on-air debut on The Tonight Show on June 7, following the end of Idol‘s current season. Minor received Emmy nominations for Outstanding Music Direction on the Grammy Awards and a 2004 Ray Charles tribute concert, has served as music director of the Super Bowl, and has collaborated with artists such as Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, and Whitney Houston. “It is a privilege for all of us to have Rickey on board,” said Tonight Show executive producer Debbie Vickers 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 [Marsalis].” Minor will continue to consult with American Idol creator Simon Fuller on other projects. “I am honored to be a part of The Tonight Show legacy,” he said in a statement.

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