In 1985, an Appearance on Johnny Carson’s Show Changed a Man’s Life

April 10, 2019 Updated: July 5, 2019

A man was sitting in the audience during Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” in 1985 when his life was forever altered.

Carson said, “Horatio Gutierrez (a classical pianist) couldn’t come tonight because he accidentally shut his hand in a car door and didn’t want to chance playing the ‘Tonight Show.'”

“Can anybody here play the piano?” he then asked.

The man in the audience, named David Tolley, volunteered and played “Memory.”

After that, he received a number of phone calls—naturally.

Tolley has since performed at the White House, written and recorded music for Euro Disney and other corporate clients, and recorded nine albums, according to his website.

Later, he became a music professor.

Tolley once wrote of the experience, “I would have been terrified if I knew 28 million people were watching every note I played, lol. Yes, it did change my life, but I’m not exactly sure how. It made my life a lot more exciting from time to time.”

Other Notable Carson Appearances

It’s worth noting that “Super Dave” actor Bob Einstein passed away earlier this year. Carson, meanwhile, passed away at age 79 in 2005, and co-host Ed McMahon passed away at age 86 in 2009.

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Jan-Michael Vincent

“Airwolf” Actor Jan-Michael Vincent died in March. (Dan Callister
Online USA Inc. / Getty)

Luke Perry

UNDATED FILE PHOTO: Luke Perry. (photo by Newsmakers)

Peter Tork

Peter Tork of the Monkees passed away at 77 in February 2019 (Getty Images | Noel Vasquez)

Albert Finney

British actor Albert Finney died in February 2019 at the age of 82. (Lucy Nicholson/AFP/Getty Images)

James Ingram

Longtime R&B singer James Ingram died in late January. Quincy Jones, a collaborator of his, wrote: “With that soulful, whisky sounding voice, James Ingram was simply magical … every beautiful note that James sang pierced your essence and comfortably made itself at home.”

Singer James Ingram has died at the age of 66 after a battle with brain cancer, according to reports on Jan. 29. (Getty Images)

Fatima Ali

“Top Chef” alum Fatima Ali died on Friday, January 25, after a battle with terminal cancer. She was 29.

Former “Top Chef” contestant Bruce Kalman paid tribute to her: “It’s with a heavy heart we say goodbye to Fatima Ali today, as she has lost her battle with cancer,” he wrote

“Top Chef” star Fatima Ali died at the age of 29 after battling a form of bone cancer, said her family. (Instagram / Selfie)

Carol Channing

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Carol Channing in Concord, N.H. Channing, whose career spanned decades on Broadway and on television has died at age 97. Publicist B. Harlan Boll says Channing died of natural causes early in Rancho Mirage, Calif., on Jan. 15, 2019. (Jim Cole/AP Photo, File)

Bob Einstein

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Bob Einstein in Hollywood, Calif., on June 27, 2018. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

Comedian and actor Bob Einstein died on Jan. 2 after a battle with cancer. He was 76.

Daryl Dragon

Daryl ‘The Captain’ Dragon beside his ex-wife, Toni Tennille, wearing his signature captain’s hat. (Hillel Italie/AP)

Daryl Dragon, or “Captain” of pop group Captain and Tennille, died on Jan. 2 of renal failure.

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