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Paul Shaffer

Paul Shaffer

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Also Known As: Paul Allen Wood Shaffer Died:
Born: November 28, 1949 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Fort William, Ontario, CA Profession: performer, musical director, conductor, composer, voice actor, arranger, producer, actor, screenwriter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

The least likely hipster since Sammy Davis, Jr. was drafted into the Rat Pack, Paul Shaffer made not only a lifetime but an industry of spinning his shortcomings into bold career moves. The only son of a Thunder Bay attorney with a passion for jazz, Shaffer was trucked by his parents on vacations to Las Vegas, where he developed an early taste for dazzle and ring-a-ding-ding. A rock-n-roll worshipping teenager, Shaffer joined a boy band called the Fugitives, playing keyboards at sock hops and hockey games. Long distance radio broadcasts from the United States and chance encounters with kindred souls led Shaffer to try his hand as a freelance musician. Despite never being able to read music well, Shaffer lucked into a job as a musical director for the Toronto production of "Godspell," whose success and connections brought him to New York City in 1974. Hired for the "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) band its first season, Shaffer forged a solid reputation for himself as an innovative musician with an incomparable personal style - traits that he parlayed into a long-term gig as the band leader for talk show host David Letterman on both of the late night comedian's programs. The recipient of multiple...

The least likely hipster since Sammy Davis, Jr. was drafted into the Rat Pack, Paul Shaffer made not only a lifetime but an industry of spinning his shortcomings into bold career moves. The only son of a Thunder Bay attorney with a passion for jazz, Shaffer was trucked by his parents on vacations to Las Vegas, where he developed an early taste for dazzle and ring-a-ding-ding. A rock-n-roll worshipping teenager, Shaffer joined a boy band called the Fugitives, playing keyboards at sock hops and hockey games. Long distance radio broadcasts from the United States and chance encounters with kindred souls led Shaffer to try his hand as a freelance musician. Despite never being able to read music well, Shaffer lucked into a job as a musical director for the Toronto production of "Godspell," whose success and connections brought him to New York City in 1974. Hired for the "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) band its first season, Shaffer forged a solid reputation for himself as an innovative musician with an incomparable personal style - traits that he parlayed into a long-term gig as the band leader for talk show host David Letterman on both of the late night comedian's programs. The recipient of multiple awards and international honors, and a celebrated composer and comic actor, Paul Shaffer carved a niche for himself in American pop culture by realizing the impossible dream of getting paid to love music.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Blues Brothers 2000 (1998) Marco
2.
 Hercules (1997) Voice Of Hermes
3.
 Look Who's Talking Too (1990) Taxi Businessman
4.
 Light Years (1988) Voice Of Optilow
5.
 Scrooged (1988) Street Musician
6.
 This Is Spinal Tap (1984) Artie Fufkin
7.
 Gilda Live (1980)
8.
 Unseen Untold: The Blues Brothers (2004) Interviewee
10.
 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, The (2003) Musical Presenter
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Studied classical piano from age 6
1964:
Performed with the rock band The Fabulous Fugitives in home town of Thunder Bay
:
Landed job as musical director of Toronto production of "Godspell"; met its composer-lyricist Steven Schwartz who invited him to play piano on Broadway for "The Magic Show" (1974)
1975:
Was the original band member of NBC's "Saturday Night Live"; played keyboards, composed special music material and acted in skits
1976:
Worked on the Broadway production of "Godspell"
1977:
Took time off from "SNL" to star in the short-lived comedy series "A Year at the Top" (CBS)
1979:
Was the musical director for Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, performing as the Blues Brothers, for their US tour and on the albums, <i>Briefcase Full of Blues</i> (1978) and <i>Made in America</i> (1980)
1979:
Collaborated with Gilda Radner on songs for her Broadway show, "Gilda: Live from New York"; also played keyboards
1980:
Received screenwriting credit for the feature "Gilda Live"; also performed
1982:
Served as music director for "Late Night with David Letterman" (NBC); leader of The World's Most Dangerous Band
1984:
Played Artie Fufkin, the promo man, in Rob Reiner's parody of a rock documentary, "This Is Spinal Tap"
:
Was the musical director for the first 10 induction ceremonies for the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame
1987:
Executive produced and played himself in the Cinemax special, "Viva Shaf Vegas" (also wrote theme)
1988:
Appeared with Miles Davis as part of a street musicians scene in "Scrooged," starring Bill Murray
1989:
Released the solo album, the Grammy nominated, <i>Coast to Coast</i>
1990:
Had cameo as harried passenger in John Travolta's cab in "Look Who's Talking Too"
1990:
Contributed music to the feature "Postcards from the Edge"
1993:
Moved with Letterman to CBS becoming music director for "The Late Show with David Letterman"; leader of CBS Orchestra
1993:
Released second solo album, <i>The World's Most Dangerous Party</i>
1996:
Was the musical director for the concert finale at the closing ceremonies of the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta
1997:
Seen as part of the "Blues Brothers Bash" during the Super Bowl XXXI half-time show
1997:
Heard as the voice of Hermes in Disney's animated feature "Hercules"
1998:
Performed in "Blues Brothers 2000" with Dan Aykroyd and John Goodman
2001:
Hosted the VH1 game show "Cover Wars" along with co-host, DJ/model Sky Nellor
2009:
Published his memoir, <i>We'll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin' Showbiz Saga</i>
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Education

University of Toronto: - 1971

Notes

Received and honorary doctorate of fine arts from Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada in 1988

About the song selection the CBS Orchestra played to introduce Al Gore: "It was hilarious, actually. During rehearsals, one of the Secret Service agents pulled me aside and said in a low voice, 'Um, what are you going to play to welcome the vice president?' Before I could answer, he said, 'How about Arrested Development's "Tennessee"?' It was perfect since Al Gore is from there . . . And the lesson to be learned here, of course, is that one should never underestimate the Secret Service. Because one day they could have your job." --Paul Shaffer quoted in US, April 1995

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Cathy Vasapoli. Booking agent. Married c. 1990.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Bernard Shaffer. Attorney.
mother:
Shirley Shaffer. Appeared on "Late Night with David Letterman" (NBC) and sat in band area "just to make sure I'd behave".
daughter:
Victoria Lily Shaffer. Born c. 1993.
son:
William Wood Lee Shaffer. Born on January 21, 1999.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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