Now Fox and the American Idol producers will have two major vacancies to fill for next season. In addition to star judge Simon Cowell, music director Rickey Minor also will be leaving the hit reality show at the end of this season. Minor snagged the gig as the new Tonight Show bandleader. He will replace Kevin Eubanks who on Monday night’s show announced he will be stepping down on May 28 after 18 years. NBC said today Minor will make his Tonight debut June 7th. That’s just a few days after the Idol Season 9 finale airs May 26th. Emmy-nominated Minor has been a major presence on Idol, with critics and viewers heaping a lot of praise as well as some gripes over his song arrangements.

UPDATE: The Idol producers issued a statement Tuesday night: “Rickey Minor has been a valued member of our American Idol family for many years. He is an amazing talent, a dear friend, and we wish him all the best.”