Earlier this week I received an early copy of Paul Shaffer's upcoming memoir, We'll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives, and devoured this star-studded "swingin' showbiz saga" in one sitting. Breezy and bursting with boldfaced names and industry dish, Shaffer shares how a kid from Thunder Bay, Ontario, grew up to get a gig as David Letterman's bandleader (with stops as SNL's first musical director, working with the Blues Brothers, penning the disco hit "It's Raining Men,"and appearing in This Is Spinal Tap along the way).
As a life-long Letterman fan (I remember watching his1980 NBC morning show(!) and spent far too many pre-VCR school nights staying up until 12:30AM to catch him) I smiled in recognition as Shaffer reminisced about classic Letterman moments Larry "Bud" Melman trying to read a French edition of The Night Before Christmas, Sonny and Cher performing "I Got You Babe" in an impromptu reunion, Darlene Love's annual rendition of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," and accidentally drawing blood from Mel Gibson during a bit called "May We Turn Your Pants Into Shorts?"
The book is filled with plenty of "Page Six"-style memories of Eric Clapton, Jerry Lewis, Phil Spector, Richard Belzer, Mr. Blackwell, Gilda Radner, and Martin Short but one of my favorites is Shaffer's "Sammy story." Shaffer was coordinating a Letterman appearance with one of his idols, the great Sammy Davis, Jr. ("Schmuel, it's Paul Shaffer." "Paul, what's shaking, baby?"). Shaffer, worrying too much and overthining the arrangement of Stevie Woner's "Once In My Life," insists, after much protesting from Sammy, on playing a recording of the horn arrangement for him prior to the show. "It's swinging, but think of how much more fun we could have had if I hadn't heard this tape."