Tonight Show's Jay Leno Bids Goodbye After 22 Years: ‘These have been the greatest 22 years of my life’

11:28 PM EST 2/8/2014 by Virginia Favis, Celebeat Reporter

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Veteran US television host Jay Leno has taped his final episode for The Tonight Show after being a host of the show for 22 years, NBC reported.

The 63-year-old appeared emotional as he thanked viewers for their loyal support. He was joined by high-profile celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Billy Crystal, Garth Brooks and Kim Kardashian. Leno will be replaced by 39-year-old Jimmy Fallon who will take over the show on February 17. This move is believed to be an attempt to get younger viewers (18-49 demographic), of which Kimmel is well-liked.

Before he said his goodbye, he said to a cheering audience: "You're very kind ... I don't like goodbyes. NBC does. I don't care for them."

Leno said that his time as the host had been the "greatest 22 years" of his life. He also said that he considers himself "the luckiest guy in the world" when he inherited the throne from Johnny Carson in 1992.

"I want to thank you guys. You folks have been just incredibly loyal," he said. "I got to meet presidents, astronauts, movie stars. It's just been incredible ... when I started hosting, Justin Bieber wasn't even born yet!

"That's why we called those 'The good old days.'"

He also said that in his time as a host, his mother, father and brother all passed away.  "After that I was pretty much out of family," he said. "And the folks here became my family."

"It's fun to kind of be the old guy and sit back here and see where the next generation takes this great institution.... It really is time to go and hand it off to the next guy. It really is."

Even though goodbyes are usually sad, this one wasn't that sad especially when Billy Crystal, a good friend of Leno and his first guest, led a star-studded rendition of Sound of Music's 'So Long, Farewell" which starred Jack Black, Kim Kardashian, NBA star Chris Paul, Sheryl Crowe, Jim Parsons, Carol Burnett and Oprah.

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