Paul Allen Wood Shaffer, CM ( born November 28, 1949) is a Canadian-American singer, actor, voice actor, author, comedian, and multi-instrumentalist who served as David Letterman's musical director, band leader and sidekick on the entire run of both Late Night with David Letterman (1982–1993) and Late Show with David Letterman (1993–2015).
Shaffer was born and raised in Fort William (now part of Thunder Bay), Ontario, Canada, the son of Shirley and Bernard Shaffer, a lawyer; Shaffer was raised in a Jewish family. As a child, Shaffer took piano lessons, and in his teenage years played the organ in a band called Fabulous Fugitives with his schoolmates in Thunder Bay. Later he performed with the "Flash Landing Band" at different venues around Edmonton and the Interior of B.C. Educated at the University of Toronto, he began playing with jazz guitarist Tisziji Muñoz, performing in bands around the bars there, where he found an interest in musicals, and completed his studies, with a B.A. degree in Sociology in 1971.
Shaffer began his music career in 1972 when Stephen Schwartz invited him to be the musical director for the Toronto production of Godspell, cstarring Victor Garber, Gilda Radner, Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Dave Thomas and Andrea Martin. He went on to play piano for the Schwartz Broadway show The Magic Show in 1974, then became a member of the house band on NBC's popular Saturday Night Live (SNL) television program from 1975 to 1980 (except for a brief departure in 1977). Though Shaffer was at the piano and appeared to be directing the band's actions, Howard Shore was credited as SNL's musical director, eventually turning the actual conducting of the band to sax player Howard Johnson. Shaffer also regularly appeared in the show's sketches, notably as the pianist for Bill Murray's Nick the Lounge Singer character, and as Don Kirshner...
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