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10 Fun Facts About the Legendary Paul Shaffer

  • News

While most people know Paul Shaffer as a musical director and David Letterman’s sidekick, there is so much more to this multi-talented Canadian musician…

  • Shaffer began playing piano at age six in his hometown of Fort William / Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.
  • He got his first big break in 1972 when composer Stephen Schwartz hired him as musical director for the Toronto production of “Godspell.” The cast included the then unknown Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Victor Garber, and the late great Gilda Radner.
  • In 1975, another Canadian, Lorne Michaels, came to New York and hired Shaffer to play piano in the band and compose special musical material for the original cast of “Saturday Night Live.” In SNL’s fifth season, Shaffer also became a featured performer.
  • Shaffer composed the “Late Show” theme song.
  • He was awarded a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame and, in 2008, he received the Order of Canada.
  • Shaffer has served as musical director and producer for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony since its inception in 1986.
  • Shaffer has recorded with such famous artists as Diana Ross, Yoko Ono, Cher, John Mayall, Robert Plant, Barry Manilow, Blues Traveler and Burt Bacharach.
  • He was musical director for Paul McCartney’s 9/11 “Concert for New York” which honored and raised money for the victims.
  • Shaffer played Artie Fufkin in Rob Reiner’s cult classic, “This Is Spinal Tap.” He’s appeared in the Mike Nichols directed “Gilda Live,” the Bill Murray movie “Scrooged,” and with John Travolta in “Look Who’s Talking, Too.” Shaffer is the voice of Hermes in Disney’s animated feature “Hercules” and the television series based on the film.
  • Paul Shaffer will headline this season’s final Pops! concert this Friday and Saturday night with special guest star Valerie Simpson.