Paul Shaffer

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Paul Allen Wood Shaffer, CM[1] (born November 28, 1949) is a Canadian musician, actor, voice actor, author, comedian, and composer.


Early years

As a child, Shaffer had lessons on the piano, and moved on to playing the organ by his teenage years, in a band (Fabulous Fugitives) with his schoolmates in Thunder Bay, Ontario. 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.[2]

Musical career

Shaffer began his music career in 1972 as the musical director for the Toronto production of Godspell,[1] starring Victor Garber, Gilda Radner, Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Dave Thomas and Andrea Martin. He went on to play piano for a Broadway show called The Magic Show in 1974, then became a member of the house band on NBC's popular Saturday Night Live 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.

Shaffer occasionally teamed up with the Not Ready for Prime-Time Players off the show as well, including work on Gilda Radner's highly successful Broadway show and as the musical director for John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd whenever they recorded or performed as The Blues Brothers. Shaffer was to appear in the duo's 1980 film, but, as he revealed in October 2009 on CBS Sunday Morning, Belushi dropped him from the project. In a nasty memo to fellow SNL colleagues, Belushi said that he was unhappy that Shaffer was spending so much time on a studio record for Radner. Belushi said that he had tried to talk Shaffer out of working on the album in the first place in order to avoid sharing Shaffer's talents with another SNL-related project.[3] Shaffer later reported that he was in (unrequited) love with Gilda Radner.[4] He would go on to appear in 1998's Blues Brothers 2000.

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