This week, Ira spoke with Paul Shaffer.
Legendary bandleader, instrumentalist, singer, composer and comedian Paul Shaffer, performing with The Shāf-Shifters in Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesars Palace December 21-23 & 28-30, and January 4-6, served as David Letterman’s musical director and sidekick for 33 years.
Shaffer began his career in 1972 as musical director of the Toronto production of “Godspell.” He played piano in “The Magic Show” on Broadway in 1974, then spent the next five years with the original “Saturday Night Live,” where he played keyboards, composed special musical material and, in 1980, became a featured performer.
In 1977, Shaffer took a brief break from the show to star in the CBS comedy series “A Year at the Top,” produced by Norman Lear and Don Kirshner. After his return to “Saturday Night Live,” he collaborated with Gilda Radner on the songs for her Broadway show, in which he also appeared. He served as musical director for the Blues Brothers – John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd – for their triple platinum album and national tour. His guest starring television appearances include “Ed,” “The Sopranos,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Schitt’s Creek” and “How I Met Your Mother.”
Shaffer starred with Bill Murray in and was musical director for the Netflix special “A Very Murray Christmas,” directed by Sofia Coppola, for which he received his fourth EMMY nomination.
In addition to recording his own albums, Coast to Coast (1989) and The World’s Most Dangerous Party (1993), Shaffer recorded with such diverse artists as Diana Ross, Yoko Ono and Robert Plant’s Honeydrippers. He composed the LATE SHOW theme song and, with Paul Jabara, wrote the Number One ’80s dance hit “It’s Raining Men,” performed by the Weather Girls and re-recorded by Geri Halliwell for the “Bridget Jones’s Diary” soundtrack, topping the British pop charts in 2001. In 2002, he received his first GRAMMY, “Best Country Instrumental,” for the Earl Scruggs and Friends album, and co-produced an avant-garde jazz album for his mentor, Tsziji Munoz. His latest album, Paul Shaffer & The World’s Most Dangerous Band, was released on March 17, 2017 and features such diverse guest vocalists as Bill Murray, Darius Rucker, Jenny Lewis, Dion, Shaggy, and Valerie Simpson.