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Report from L.A.'s Grammy Week: Rickey Minor, "Tonight Show" bandleader

Published February 8, 2012 7:14 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I am in Los Angeles for "Grammy Week," and Wednesday was devoted to the Grammy Foundation's education outreach programs, with hundreds of high-schoolers from around the area visiting the School of Music at the University of Southern California. Music veterans like Jimmy Jam were there to impart wisdom.I had a conversation with Rickey Minor, now the bandleader of Jay Leno's "Tonight" show band, and formerly the music director of the Grammys as well as "American Idol." He brought along with him a percussionist, saxophone player and guitar player from that band to talk to the students about songwriting. Accompanying his band was Lacey Brown and Didi Benami, both season 9 contestants of "American Idol."Minor used to be the music director of the Grammys award show, and after mangling my words for a good 30 seconds — hey, it was early— asked him what his successor at the Grammys was going through. "He's concerned about all the things he doesn't know," Minor said. Things change up until the show starts, Minor said, and sometimes things change after the show has already begun to air. "You have to be bendable, not breakable," he said.What Minor told the students was that they have to be versatile, and always have goals and one-year plans, two-year plans, five-year plans. I asked him what his goal was. Minor replied that he is taking classes at USC's film school, learning how to score films.I immediately felt very lazy.I did take the opportunity to walk around the School of Music, in addition to USC's famed film school, where there is a Steven Spielberg Building and a George Lucas Building. In a courtyard, I thought I saw the iconic Tommy Trojan statue, but then realized it was Douglas Fairbanks. Oops.