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Paul Shaffer to speak, play at the Grammy Museum on Wednesday night

October 20, 2009 |  4:48 pm

Shaffer_mug The ever-upbeat shiny-headed sidekick and bandleader Paul Shaffer will be giving an intimate talk Wednesday at the Grammy Museum.

The pianist, who first made it big on "Saturday Night Live," will be speaking about his musical career, life working on that little late night show with David Letterman, as well as his new book, "We'll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin' Showbiz Saga." Shaffer will take questions from the audience, perform a few songs, and sign copies of the book. Perhaps some current events will be addressed.

Shaffer's book is actually quite a delight. Lighthearted, funny, insightful and intentionally disjointed, Paul gracefully jumps from his early days playing classical pieces to the delight of his -- very hip -- parents while in Thunder Bay, Canada, to his more wild nights leading the Blues Brothers band from city to city.

After the jump peek into Shaffer's world as he explains meeting the poet laureate of rock 'n' roll, Bob Dylan. Turns out Mr. Zimmerman's agenda while being the musical act on the Letterman show was definitely not meeting the keyboardist.

Shaffer_bookFrom Shaffer's book:

After Dave and Liberace worked up a soulful soufflé, Dylan came on with a borrowed band. Nonetheless, his three-song set was powerful. His “License to Kill” killed. Afterward, I couldn’t keep from knocking on heaven’s door. I had to bond with Dylan.

When I stuck my head in his dressing room, I saw that he was with his lovely and talented girlfriend at the time, singer Clydie King.

“Hi, Bob,” I said and, offering Clydie a smile, quoted Dylan himself: “What’s a sweetheart like her doing in a place like this?”

Bob nodded in my direction. He didn’t say a word.

“You know, Bob, you grew up just 130 miles to the south of my hometown in Canada. We’re linked by Highway 61. And I gotta tell you something else, man. Just like you, I spent my growing-up years with my ear pressed against the transistor listening to those faraway southern radio stations. Just like you, I learned to love rhythm and blues. And hey, Bob, how about that Bobby Vee? You played piano with him, I could sing both parts to ‘Take Good Care of My Baby.’ We’re soul brothers.”

I waited for his response, but none came. He just seemed to be staring into space. But I kept going.

“When you sang Roy Head’s ‘Treat Her Right’ in rehearsal today, Bob, it sounded just great. I wish you’d record it.”

Finally Bob looked me in the eyes. I’d obviously made a connection.

“Paul, do you think you could introduce me to Larry ‘Bud’ Melman?” he asked, referring to the lovable nerd who was a running character on our show.

I thought Dylan was kidding.

But he wasn’t.

Pop & Hiss will have more with Shaffer in the coming days.

-- Tony Pierce

Top photo of Paul Shaffer by the Associated Press

Paul Shaffer at the Grammy Museum, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., Wednesday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20, and available in advance via Ticketmaster.