Life is full of surprises, and one of them impacted David Tolley’s life. On December 19, 1985, he was watching Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show live when something unexpected happened. Carson stated that Horatio Gutierrez, a classical pianist scheduled to appear on the show, had injured his hand and would be unable to perform. Carson immediately inquired if anyone in the audience could play the piano.
Tolley took the initiative right away. He had been learning to play the piano since he was a child. He took the stage and sang “Memory” from the hit musical Cats. The unexpected performance earned him a standing ovation from the audience and catapulted him to new heights of stardom.
Tolley’s phone didn’t stop ringing the day after the show. People approached him about work on cruise ships, in movies and elsewhere. A accidental encounter on a late-night talk show had permanently altered his life. The story of Tolley’s unexpected success reminds us that we never know what opportunities or challenges may come our way in life, and it’s critical to be prepared to seize them when they do.