While others shine bright in front of the lime-light, such as sex machine James Brown or sex bomb Tom Jones, other have received a gift probably far greater. And have earned a title which many couldn’t even imagine at its real level – one man show. It’s the case of Paul Shaffer, for which the instruments seem to no longer hold secrets, but who is also a born soloist.
He composes, writes, dances, accompanies. And the list can go on, because he’s trump cards seem to never end and we stop and note only showman and producer. Some may have seen him with David Letterman, be it on the Late Show or Late night, where he was the artistic director for 33 years. Others may have seen him in his own show. The famous Caesar’s Palace always holds his show, for three days. And if we’re speaking of Las Vegas, ladies and gentlemen, let’s meet Paul Schaffer.
Las Vegas, Caesar’s Palace, Cleopatra’s Barge. Red and gold. The opulence of a floating bar, as well as a boat on the Nile. An intimate show hall, destined for an artist that targets the soul with… entertainment.
Here, Paul Shaffer and his crew, The Shaf Shifters, can be admired in three shows, for three days, in a show dedicated, pay attention, only to the greats. For 90 minutes, music – pop, funk and R&B, classic songs or covers – shall intertwine with the anecdotes and the stories gathered in the 40 years of work alongside heavy names in music, film and television.
The Evolution of a Genius
How did Shaffer become such a complex musician? Maybe “it’s the fault” of the hours spent studying piano, which he started in his childhood, doubled by inspiration and intuition, as well as by his augmented studies at the University of Toronto or the in clubs where he sang jazz music until he got his Master’s in sociology. And he showed off his talent in Toronto, in a Godspell production in 1972 which helped him make the leap to Broadway in 1974 as a pianist for “The Magic Show”. He was a pianist for five years, composer for the “Saturday Night Show”, with a small break in 1977, when he played a role in the comedy series “A year at the Top”, produced by Norman Lear and Don Kirshner. Once he came back to the “Saturday Night Show”, he collaborated with Gilda Radner as to write the songs for her show on Broadway.
Once he ad a taste of success there where only the best impose themselves, he had a natural continuation. He was musical director for the Blues Brothers – John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s project – for their triple platinum album and the national tour. His passion for television never ceased. He appeared on “Ed”, “The Sopranos”, “Law and Order” and on “How I met your mother”. Recently, he played alongside Bill Murray and was also musical director for the series “A Very Murray Christmas” on Netflix, directed by Sofia Coppola and which brought him an Emmy nomination.
Besides the albums he recorded, “Coast to Coast” (1989) and “The World s Dangerous Party” (1993), Shaffer also collaborated with various artists such as Diana Ross, Yoko Ono and Robert Plant’s band, Honeydrippers, in which he played the piano.
He composed “The Late Show” theme and, alongside Paul Jabara, he wrote “It’s Raining Men”, the ‘80s hit sung by Weather Girl and recorded by Geri Halliwell for the soundtrack to “Bridget Jones’s Diary”, who remained at the top of British charts in 2001. In 2002, he received a Grammy for the best instrumental country music for the Earl Scruggs & Friends album. He was co-producer in the avant-garde album of jazz music created by his mentor, Tsziji Munoz. On his last album, Paul Shaffer and World Most Dangerous Band, launched on July 17th, 2017, he sang alongside great industry names such as Bill Murray, Darius Rucker, Jenny Lewis, Dion, Shaggy. and Valerie Simpson.
Acting, An Accomplished Passion
He always had a weakness for appearing on the small and the big screen, proof to that being his episodic appearances in various movies, alongside Bill Murray, in “Scrooged” or John Travolta in “Look who’s talking”. He was the voice of Hermes in the Disney animated production “Hercules”.
Leader Among Stars
Shaffer was the musical director and producer for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony since its beginning in 1986. He led the orchestra for “We are the World” at the end of Live Aid, Shaffer hosted the New Year’s ceremony in 1994 in Times Square, New York, produced by CBS and in 1999, he was musical director for “The Concert of the Century” at the White House, which had as guests Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Gloria Estefan, ‘N Sync. He was musical director for Paul McCarthy in “Concert for New York”.
Paul Shaffer’s book of memoirs, entitled “We’ll be here for the rest of our lives” was published by the Random House and shortly became a best seller.
He has two honorific PhD titles, and in 2008 he received Canada’s Order, the highest distinction in his country. Now, he lives in New York with his wife and two children.
Las Vegas succeeds in attracting quality people, scholar, true doctors in their field of activity. Well, one of these people is Paul Shaffer. Vegas can be proud.