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Genre: Adult Contemporary
Price: Under $50,000
Availability: Generally Availability
Demographics: 18-25,25-35,35-50,50 +
Best known for his longstanding gig as David Letterman’s sidekick and musical director, classically trained pianist Paul Shaffer began his career in the early 1970s as the musical director for the Toronto production of Godspell after graduating from the University of Toronto and performing at different venues around the area.
Godspell starred Gilda Radner, Victor Garber, Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Dave Thomas and Andrea Martin, perhaps priming Paul Shaffer for his later work with Radner and other Saturday Night Live cast members. Paul Shaffer became a member of Saturday Night Live’s house band after a stint on Broadway playing piano in a show called The Magic Show in 1974, continuing with the Saturday Night Live band until 1980. Paul Shaffer honed his acting chops by regularly appearing in Saturday Night Live sketches with such characters as the pianist for Bill Murray’s Nick the Lounge Singer and Don Kirshner, and served as musical director for John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s Blues Brothers recordings and performances.
But Paul Shaffer’s real break, making him an instant celebrity, came in 1982 when he became the musical director/bandleader of the World’s Most Dangerous Band on Late Night With David Letterman, also composing the theme song for the show. Paul Shaffer released his solo Grammy-nominated album, Coast to Coast, in 1989, and when David Letterman and Paul Shaffer moved to CBS in 1993, Shaffer renamed the band the CBS Orchestra and released an album called The World’s Most Dangerous Party that same year.
Paul Shaffer has served as musical director, producer and writer for several notable projects, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony (since its inception in 1986) and the 1996 Olympic Games closing ceremonies from Atlanta, Georgia. Shaffer has worked with a host of talented artists over the years, including Donald Fagen, Ronnie Wood, Grand Funk Railroad, Diana Ross, B.B. King, Cyndi Lauper, Yoko Ono, and Cher, just to name a few. Paul Shaffer also wrote and produced the song “It’s Raining Men” with Paul Jabara, which became a hit in the UK for both the Weather Girls and later for Geri Halliwell.
Paul Shaffer released his memoir, We’ll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin’ Show-biz Saga, in 2009. In 2015, he left his tenure on the Late Show with David Letterman after the show wrapped its run with Letterman at the helm. Most recently, Shaffer reunited with his band to record the album Paul Shaffer & the World’s Most Dangerous Band. An extensive tour of performances followed the release of the album, including one for Stephen Colbert after Colbert took over for Letterman for the show, now titled Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
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