Life is full of surprises, and one unexpected moment changed the trajectory of David Tolley’s life. On December 19, 1985, he was a member of the studio audience for Johnny Carson’s
Tonight Show when the unexpected occurred. Carson revealed that the intended guest, Horatio Gutierrez, a classical pianist, had damaged his hand and would be unable to perform. Carson wondered if anyone in the audience could play the piano without missing a beat.
Tolley, who had been playing the piano since infancy, jumped right in. He ascended the stage and sang «Memory» from the hit musical Cats. The impromptu performance garnered him a standing ovation from the audience as well as newfound fame.