Kevin Eubanks

Kevin Tyrone Eubanks (born November 15, 1957)[1] is an American jazz and fusion guitarist and composer. He was the leader of The Tonight Show Band with host Jay Leno from 1995 to 2010. He also led the Primetime Band on the short lived The Jay Leno Show.

Kevin Eubanks
Eubanks performing at the 2011 National Cherry Blossom Festival
Eubanks performing at the 2011 National Cherry Blossom Festival
Background information
Birth nameKevin Tyrone Eubanks
Born (1957-11-15) November 15, 1957 (age 64)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
GenresJazz, rock
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
Years active1982–present
LabelsMack Avenue


Eubanks was born into a musical family. His older brother, Robin Eubanks, is a trombonist, and his younger brother Duane Eubanks is a trumpeter.[1] Two cousins are also musicians, the late bassist David Eubanks and the pianist Charles Eubanks. Kevin studied violin and trumpet before settling on the guitar.[citation needed]

As an elementary school student, Eubanks was trained in violin, trumpet, and piano at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia. He later attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts,[1] and then moved to New York to begin his professional career.[citation needed]

Eubanks is a pescetarian and maintains a diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, egg whites, and fish.[2]


Kevin Eubanks performs at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, Half Moon Bay, California, October 1988.

After Eubanks moved to New York, he began performing with noted jazzmen such as Art Blakey (1980–81), Roy Haynes, Slide Hampton and Sam Rivers.[1] Like his brother Robin, he has played on record with double bassist Dave Holland.[3] In 1983, while continuing to perform with others, he formed his own quartet, playing gigs in Jordan, Pakistan, and India on a tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

In 2020, Eubanks appeared as a guest on the Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip marathon fundraiser episode of The George Lucas Talk Show.

In the fall of 2021, Eubanks returned to working with Leno, as a sidekick on a revival of the TV game show You Bet Your Life.


His first recording as a leader, Guitarist, was released on the Elektra label when Eubanks was 25 years old. It led to a seven-album contract with the GRP label and four albums for Blue Note. In total, Eubanks has appeared on over 100 albums. In 2001, he founded the label Insoul Music on which he has released six albums.


Eubanks has taught at the Banff School of Fine Arts in Canada, at Rutgers University, and at the Charlie Parker School in Perugia, Italy. In 2005, Eubanks received an honorary doctorate degree from his alma mater, Berklee College of Music. He has served as an active member of the Artistic Advisory Panel of the BMI Foundation since 1999.

The Tonight ShowEdit

In 1992, Eubanks moved to the West Coast to play guitar in The Tonight Show Band. He composed "Kevin's Country," the closing theme music for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.[4] In 1995, he replaced Branford Marsalis as leader of the band.

When NBC moved Leno's show from late night to prime time, Eubanks moved with the band to continue conducting music for the short-lived The Jay Leno Show. Eubanks appeared on the new show as The Primetime Band.

On April 12, 2010, Eubanks announced on the show that he would be leaving The Tonight Show following its 18th season. His last show was on Friday, May 28, 2010. He indicated in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer that he wanted to concentrate on music, adding that his leaving was not provoked by any problems with Leno or NBC.[5] Following his departure from The Tonight Show, he began touring with bandmate Marvin "Smitty" Smith on drums, Bill Pierce on saxophone, and Rene Camacho on bass.


On his website, Eubanks states his preference for Abe Rivera guitars, Mesa/Boogie amplifiers and D'Addario guitar strings.[6]


Kevin Eubanks in 1978

As leaderEdit

  • Guitarist (Elektra Musician, 1983)
  • Sundance (GRP, 1984)
  • Opening Night (GRP, 1985)
  • Face to Face (GRP, 1986)
  • The Heat of Heat (GRP, 1987)
  • Shadow Prophets (GRP, 1988)
  • The Searcher (GRP, 1989)
  • Promise of Tomorrow (GRP, 1990)
  • Turning Point (Blue Note, 1992)
  • Spirit Talk (Blue Note, 1993)
  • Live at Bradley's (Blue Note, 1994)
  • Spirit Talk 2 – Revelations (Blue Note, 1995)
  • Zen Food (Mack Avenue, 2010)
  • The Messenger (Mack Avenue, 2012)
  • Duets with Stanley Jordan (Mack Avenue, 2015)
  • East West Time Line (Mack Avenue, 2017)

As sidemanEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 138. ISBN 0-85112-580-8.
  2. ^ Falcon, Mike (November 4, 2002). "Kevin Eubanks beefs up without meat". USA Today.
  3. ^ Scott Yanow. "Kevin Eubanks". AllMusic. Retrieved January 27, 2009.
  4. ^ "Lights, Camera, Reaction! Kevin Eubanks" Archived October 17, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, International Musician, July 2007
  5. ^ Chinen, Nate (May 30, 2010). "Sidekick No More: Eubanks Starts Post-Leno Life". The New York Times.
  6. ^ [1] Archived March 29, 2010, at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit

Media offices
Preceded by The Tonight Show bandleader
Succeeded by
Preceded by The Tonight Show bandleader
Succeeded by