The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Cast Info

Jay Leno, star of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno", was born on April 28, 1950, in New Rochelle, New York, but grew up in Andover, Massachusetts.

When Jay was 14, he got his very first automobile - a 1934 Ford truck - which he restored himself. Thus began his lifelong love affair with cars. His high salary at NBC must come in handy when it comes to this hobby: Jay now owns over 30 classic cars and over 40 motorcycles. (He even writes an automotive column for Popular Mechanics magazine.)

He was graduated from Emerson College (with a B.A. in speech therapy) in 1973, and began his career as a stand-up comic. A borderline workaholic, Lay was on the road working the nightclub circuit 300 days a year. He later opened for singing acts such as John Denver and Johnny Mathis. He also did did some comedy writing for sitcoms and even dabbled in acting, appearing in the 1978 movies "The Silver Bears" and "American Hot Wax".

But he found his main success as a guest on TV talk shows, making the rounds of the Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin and Mike Douglas shows.

It was Johnny Carson who gave Jay his big break on the Tonight show, having him on as a performer for the first time on March 2, 1977. It would be ten years before Jay became Johnny's permanent guest host (in 1987), and 15 years before Jay would take the reins of the Tonight Show full-time in 1992.

In between, he also appeared frequently on "Late Night with David Letterman" - which followed the Carson show each weeknight on NBC. Jay had earlier been a writer for Dave, and had made over 40 appearances on Letterman's show. That became a bit awkward in 1992, when Johnny Carson decided to retire. David Letterman obviously wanted to fill Johnny's "Tonight Show" chair, but after a controversial struggle, the treasured desk job went to Jay instead. Letterman left NBC in a huff to begin his own show on the rival CBS network, and for a while Letterman was winning late night the ratings game. But the ratings turned around in the mid-'90s.


Rickey Minor is the third Musical Director of NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno", following in the footsteps of Branford Marsalis and Kevin Eubanks.

The Emmy-nominated Minor has worked with some of the biggest names in the music industry including Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Herbie Hancock, Alicia Keys, Kenny Chesney, Norah Jones. Mary J. Blige, Faith Hill, Beyonce, Aerosmith, Christina Aguilera and Whitney Houston.

In addition, Rickey has been the musical director for major television events such as The Grammy Awards, The Super Bowl, American Idol and "Genius: A Night For Ray Charles."

He and his wife Karen live in Los Angeles.