American Idol judge, Harry Connick Jr., dropped by The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon to talk music and promote the upcoming American Idol 14 premiere.
Harry offered some insight on why he’s such a tough judge when he shared a story about how a renowned drummer walked out of a gig because an inexperienced 15 year old Harry insisted on performing a song that was too ambitious for him.
Harry was subbing in a club for his teacher, Ellis Marsalis (father of Wynton and Brandon). He was warned not to play “Magnolia Triangle” a song composed in 5/4 time by the band’s drummer, a highly regarded musician named James Black. Harry played the song anyway. By the time the young musician finished the chorus, he was completely lost.
At that point, the drummer put down his sticks, had a drink at the bar, and then left the club, muttering, “I’m not going to play with this amateur anymore.”
Harry used it as an example for why he won’t coddle Idol hopefuls auditioning for the show.
“That’s the kind of education that we got,” Harry explained about his early years as music student in New Orleans. “That’s what allowed me to learn about music.”
“When I’m a judge on Idol now,” said Harry, “People say I’m tough on the kids. Oh my gosh! You have NO idea!”
Jimmy laughed at the image of Harry walking out of a terrible Idol audition. “I love your honesty,” the host confessed.
“If you have an opportunity to correct something,” said Harry, “We’ve got 30 seconds…we’ve got a real short amount of time…you’re going to say ‘This is what you need to work on’ and you’ve got to be real specific with them.”
Jimmy asked if Harry gets booed. “They boo me at Starbucks!” laughed Harry.
Watch the interview below. American Idol 14 premieres Wednesday January 7 on FOX.