johnny carson piano player

Imagine being in the audience of The Tonight Show. 20+ million people are watching. Famed classical pianist Horacio Gutiérrez is unable play one night on the show because of an accident he had with his hand. Johnny Carson asks the audience if there is anybody who can play piano.

A man by the name of David Tolley, maybe sitting a few seats down from you, raises his hand. He’s brought down and given the opportunity to play.

Check out what happens:

That was amazing. And it DID change his life. Tolley is now music professor at the University of Delaware, but this chance happening allowed him to play at The White House, tour Europe with Jon Anderson from the band Yes, write music for Disneyland Paris, and more.

Let’s Go For Round 2!

Even better – Johnny brought him back to The Tonight Show, as a guest! Carson was so impressed he just had to have Tolley back. And even better than that, Johnny tells David that since he’s a guest and will get to perform again, he will actually get paid!

(He also told the audience that Tolley did get a couple dinners on the house in payment for his first amazing performance.)


This man is a virtuoso on the piano, and he got a once-in-a-lifetime chance to shine thanks to Johnny Carson.

You can read more about Tolley and how this appearance on The Tonight Show changed his life in a tell all he did! It’s pretty amazing what can happen when you least expect it!

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