As previously reported, Oklahoma music megastar Garth Brooks, who celebrated his 52nd birthday today, was the musical guest Thursday night on the final “Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
A longtime pal of Leno’s, the Owasso resident played his seminal hit “The Dance” at the late-night host’s request.
Before performing, Brooks called Leno “the dearest friend to entertainment.”
“If you were an entertainer and needed a friend and a way to the people, you were always it,” Brooks said. “I love you with all my heart.”
Billy Crystal, Leno’s first-ever guest on the venerable late-night program, also returned for Leno’s last show. Others who appeared to pay homage to Leno included Carol Burnett, Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Crow, Kim Kardashian, Jim Parsons, Chris Paul and Jack Black. President Obama even contributed a video tribute, and slew of celebrities, from Miley Cyrus and Matt Damon to Mark Wahlberg and Tyler Perry, offered their advice on what Leno should do next in another video.
Leno got emotional during his final speech, as he said the show’s team became his family after his parents and brother died in his early years of his run as “Tonight Show” host.
“Boy, this is the hard part. I want to thank you, the audience. You folks have been, just, incredibly loyal. This is tricky. We wouldn’t be on the air without you people. Secondly, this has been the greatest 22 years of my life. I am the luckiest guy in the world. I got to meet presidents, astronauts, movie stars. It’s just been incredible,” Leno said.
“In closing, I want to quote Johnny Carson, who was the greatest guy to ever do this job. He said, “I bid you all a heartfelt goodbye.”
Leno then added, “Now that I’ve brought the room down, hey, Garth, you got anything to liven this party up?” Brooks then launched into a singalong of his iconic smash “Friends in Low Places.”
Will Smith and U2 will be the guests for new host Jimmy Fallon’s Feb. 17 debut as host of ‘The Tonight Show.”