Country star Garth Brooks wound down "The Tonight Show" on Jay Leno's last night as host Thursday after 22 years.
Brooks sang “The Dance” at Leno’s request, and then closed out the show with “Friends in Low Places.”
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Many of Leno’s friends in the entertainment business showed up to bid him farewell, including Oprah Winfrey, Billy Crystal — who was the very first guest Leno had on the show when he started more than two decades ago — and Sheryl Crow.
Brooks offered Leno his warm thanks for being “the dearest friend to entertainment,” and told him, “If you were an entertainer and needed a friend and a way to the people, you were always it. I love you with all my heart.”
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Leno became emotional at the end of the show, his voice breaking as he thanked the crew and viewers for their support and being his family for 22 years. He borrowed a line from Johnny Carson, repeating that famed host’s last words, “I bid you all a heartfelt goodnight.”
Jimmy Fallon will take over the hosting spot on the long-running evening talk show.
Many fans were sorry to bid Leno farewell. One wrote on a Taste of Country story: “Jay finishes on top and went out with class. The Dance was a perfect song. Bittersweet, but time to pass the torch. Loved how at the very end, he said, 'I'll be right home, honey.' Jimmy Fallon is an unbelievable talent. He's witty, charming, sings and dances. Love him, too.”
Millions tuned in to bid Leno goodbye, the Los Angeles Times said
, reporting that preliminary numbers put viewership at 14.6 million — the largest audience Leno has had in 15 years.
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