'American Idol' bandleader Rickey Minor heads to 'The Tonight Show'

rickey-minor-idol-320.jpg "American Idol" music director Rickey Minor is moving over to "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," taking over as bandleader from the departing Kevin Eubanks.

Minor is scheduled to begin his "Tonight Show" gig on Monday, June 7, 10 days after Eubanks' May 28 departure (with, presumably, a week of reruns in between). "Idol" ends its season on May 27.

"It is a privilege for all of us to have Rickey on board," "Tonight Show" executive producer Debbie Vickers says. "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]."

There had earlier been some speculation that Max Weinberg, Conan O'Brien's long-time bandleader, would join up with Leno, but Tuesday evening's (April 13) annoucement puts the kibosh on that.

NBC's announcement says that "Minor will continue to consult and work with 'American Idol' creator Simon Fuller on various projects," but there's no word yet on whether he'll continue his full-time "Idol" job. The logistics of juggling the two jobs would be a bit tough, to say the least.

Minor is a three-time Emmy nominee for outstanding music direction, most recently for the 2009 Grammy Awards. He's also worked with artists like Christina Aguilera and Whitney Houston and Alicia Keys.

Eubanks announced on Monday's "Tonight Show" that he would be leaving at the end of May.

Follow Zap2it and Zap2itRick on Twitter and Zap2it on Facebook for the latest TV, movie and celeb news.

Related:

Kevin Eubanks announces 'Tonight Show' departure

Photo credit: FOX