Paul Shaffer

Paul Shaffer

Infobox actor
name = Paul Shaffer

birthname = Paul Allen Wood Shaffer
birthdate = birth date and age|1949|11|28
birthplace = Fort William, Ontario
spouse = Cathy Vasapoli (1990-)
grammyawards = Best Country Instrumental Performance
2002 "Foggy Mountain Breakdown"

Paul Allen Wood Shaffer, CMcite web|url=|title=Paul Shaffer to received (sic) Order of Canada|date=2007-12-28|accessdate=2008-04-23|publisher=Lake Superior News] (born November 28, 1949 in Fort William, now Thunder Bay, Ontario) is a Canadian musician, actor, voice actor, author, comedian and composer currently seen as the bandleader on the "Late Show with David Letterman".

Musical career

Shaffer began his musical career in 1972 as the musical director for the Toronto production of "Godspell". The production starred Victor Garber, Gilda Radner, Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Dave Thomas and Andrea Martin. He went on to play piano for a Broadway show called "The Magic Show" in 1974, then became the musical director for NBC's popular "Saturday Night Live" television program from 1975 to 1980, though briefly leaving the series in 1977. Though Shaffer was at the piano and appeared to actually be directing the band's actions, Howard Shore was credited as musical director on SNL during the 1975-1980 time frame. Shaffer eventually made regular appearances in the show's skits.

Shaffer occasionally teamed up with the Not Ready for Prime-Time Players off the show as well, including work on Gilda Radner's highly successful Broadway show, and a time spent as the musical director for John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, whenever they recorded or performed as "The Blues Brothers". Shaffer also appeared in "Blues Brothers 2000" movie from 1998. He was to appear in the original "The Blues Brothers" in 1980, but he was appearing with Radner in "Gilda Live!" at the time of filming.

Since 1982, Shaffer has served as musical director for David Letterman's late night talk shows: as leader of "The World's Most Dangerous Band" for "Late Night with David Letterman" (1982–1993) on NBC, for which he also composed the theme song, and as leader of the CBS Orchestra for the "Late Show with David Letterman" (1993—) on CBS. Letterman consistently maintains that the show's switch to CBS was because NBC "fired Paul for stealing chalk" or some other facetious reason. Shaffer has also guest-hosted the show a few times when Letterman was unavailable, including during Letterman's January 2000 medical leave that resulted from his quintuple heart bypass surgery, and during the birth of Letterman's son, Harry Joseph, in November 2003.

Shaffer has served as musical director and producer for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony since its inception in 1986 and filled the same role for the 1996 Olympic Games closing ceremonies from Atlanta, Georgia. Shaffer also served as musical director for "Fats Domino and Friends" a Cinemax Session with Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis and Ron Wood.

Shaffer has released two solo albums, 1989's Grammy nominated "Coast to Coast", and 1993’s "The World's Most Dangerous Party". Shaffer has also recorded with a wide range of artists, including Donald Fagen, Grand Funk Railroad, Diana Ross, B.B. King, Cyndi Lauper, Carl Perkins, Yoko Ono, Blues Traveler, Cher, Chicago, Robert Burns, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Robert Plant, Scandal, Late Show regular Warren Zevon, jazz trumpeter Lew Soloff, jazz saxophonist Lou Marini and bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs. He wrote and produced, with Paul Jabara, the song "It's Raining Men" which was a #2 hit in England for The Weather Girls in 1984 and a UK #1 remake for Geri Halliwell in 2001. Shaffer and The World's Most Dangerous Band perform the Chuck Berry song "Roll over Beethoven" for the 1992 film "Beethoven".

Other activities

Shaffer has appeared in a number of motion pictures over the years, including a small role in Rob Reiner's "This is Spinal Tap", "Blues Brothers 2000", a scene with Miles Davis in the Bill Murray film "Scrooged" and as a passenger in John Travolta's taxicab in "Look Who's Talking Too." In addition, Shaffer lent his voice to Disney's animated feature and television series "Hercules," as the character Hermes.

In 1977, Shaffer left "SNL" for a few months to co-star with Greg Evigan in "A Year at the Top", a short-lived CBS sitcom in which Shaffer and Evigan play two musicians from Idaho who relocate to Hollywood where they are regularly tempted by a famous promoter (who is actually the devil's son), played by Mickey Rooney, to sell their souls in exchange for a year of stardom. Though the series only lasted a few episodes, a soundtrack album was released.

Following the series' cancellation, Shaffer returned to "SNL". In the fall of 1979, Shaffer became the first person to utter the "F"-Word on SNL. That year, SNL parodied the Troggs tapes with a medieval musical sketch featuring himself, Bill Murray, Harry Shearer, and a "special guest appearance" by John Belushi (who had left the show the previous spring). In the middle of a long tirade which featured numerous repetitions of the word "flogging", Shaffer inadvertently uttered the forbidden word. It not only escaped the censors in the live broadcast and the West Coast taped airing, but also reappeared in the summer rerun, and even in the syndicated versions of the show, for several years, making it if not the definitive first, at the very least the most repeated, appearance of the swear word on network broadcast TV.

In 1977, Shaffer was also present on the Mark & Clark Band's hit record "Worn Down Piano". In 1995, he also appeared in Blues Traveler's video for the song "Hook".

In 2001, Shaffer hosted the VH1 game show "Cover Wars" along with a co-host, DJ/model Sky Nellor. In this show, cover bands would compete against each other to become the ultimate winner of the series. Each week Paul would sign off by saying "Just because you're in a cover band, it doesn't mean you're not a star." The show lasted thirteen episodes and featured celebrity judges like Kevin Bacon, Nile Rodgers, Cyndi Lauper, and Ace Frehley.

In 2002, a street which surrounds the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium in his hometown was renamed "Paul Shaffer Drive". Shaffer has also received two honorary doctorates.

Since 2002, he has been the national spokesperson for [ Epilepsy Canada] .

On September 29, 2005, Paul Shaffer made a major contribution to Lakehead University to dedicate the fifth floor ATAC boardroom to his father Bernard Shaffer, inaugural member of the Board of Governors.

In June 2006, he received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.

On Wednesday, July 11, 2007, The New York Times reported that Shaffer is currently working on his memoir, which will be published by Flying Dolphin Press (an imprint of Random House Inc.'s Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group) in 2009. []

Personal life

Since 1990, Shaffer has been married to Cathy Vasapoli, with whom he has two children: Vicki (born 1993), Willie (born 1999).


External links

* [ Paul Shaffer Bio at CBS - Late Show]
* [ Late Show UK - fansite]
*imdb name|id=0787322|name=Paul Shaffer
* [ Paul Shaffer] at NNDB
* [ Paul Shaffer] at []

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