Wednesday night was the 6,028th show of David Letterman’s late-night comedy career, and the final episode of his beloved CBS program, “Late Show with David Letterman.” By this point, late-night comedy fans may take for granted Letterman’s perennial Jewish sidekick and bandleader, Paul Shaffer.
Shaffer, 65, is a Canadian Jew who grew up going to an Orthodox congregation. Reportedly he is a member of the Mount Kisco Hebrew Congregation in suburban New York’s Westchester County.
He has worked with a wide range of famous artists (did you know he co-wrote the song “It’s Raining Men”?) and played live with dozens of all-time greats on Letterman’s shows. After Letterman’s “Late Night” run on NBC, Shaffer went with him to CBS, and the two have developed a legendary friendship.
Below are five of Shaffer’s greatest moments as Letterman’s trusted music man.
1. Rocking out with Sly Stone’s synthesizer (1983)
2. Playing with Bruce Springsteen on Letterman’s final show on NBC (1993)
3. Backing up and singing with Warren Zevon, who had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer (2002)
4. Replicating a song by punk band the Orwells as soon as they finished playing it (2014)
5. As a “guest” last week, giving a great James Brown impersonation and being called a “musical genius” by Letterman (2015)