Late Night Interviews

An afternoon with Paul Shaffer

My east coast swing is winding down.I’m sitting in Paul Shaffer’s office at the Ed Sullivan Theater, headquarters for “Late Show With David Letterman.”, listening to “Johnnie B. Bad” to get me in the right frame of mind. There are autographed photos with the likes of Carl Perkins, Fats Domino, Billy Joel, and Johnny Cash.

A Lakeside cd is on Shaffer’s desk and a War cap nearby; obviously the man has wide ranging musical tastes, but we already knew that from watching him on SNL, in movies, and with the Letterman show for 20 plus years. Again, I’m moments away from interviewing someone whose career I’ve followed and enjoyed for decades. I remember Shaffer from his “Saturday Night Live” days. In college at Mizzou’s television station KOMU, the 10 p.m. weekend crew didn’t leave to hit the bars until we saw “Weekend Update” on SNL. I’ve always enjoyed Shaffer’s obvious enthusiam for music and pure joy at performing.”Even before I knew who Johnnie Johnson was I was trying to play like him. I was studying him. Back when I thought God was on the keys, I was studying him. There was no time lag between what he felt in his heart to play, what he thought about playing, and what he actually played, and when he played, he swung his ass off.”Shout out to Daniel Fetter, Paul’s assistant for several years. He’s a Cubs fan (I won’t hold that against him), so we compared notes on the Cardinals-Cubs rivalry, one of baseball’s best. Thanks for your help, Daniel. Keep rockin’, Paul!So ends my east coast trip which started at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and ended in the office of Letterman sidekick and Johnnie Johnson fan Paul Shaffer. The journey continues…literally. I’m driving back to St. Louis tomorrow and Friday with lots of great material for the documentary. The next interview: super drummer Steven Jordan on Monday in St. Louis.

Getting Sirius with Pat St. John

Yesterday I interviewed Pat St. John of Sirius Satellite Radio. My first encounter with Pat was in the summer of 2004. I was traveling with Johnnie in Fairmont, West Virginia. It was Johnnie’s 80th birthday and I was videotaping Johnnie for the documentary when Pat St. John called him, live on the radio, to wish Johnnie a happy birthday. I could only hear Johnnie’s answers; today I got to hear the entire interview because Pat brought me a copy. It’ll be in the documentary.”If I could say anything about Johnnie Johnson, it was that he was one of the sweetest men I’ve met and one of the most talented men. If you don’t have them, go out and get all his cds and re-listen to those records and other albums that he plays on. Listen with a new ear now that you’ve seen more about the man, Johnnie Johnson. Get into the music even more and realize how great this man was and how talented he was. Start with the “Johnnie Be Bad” album. It’s just fabulous from start to finish. Any of the albums he appears on, his piano playing is just uniquely Johnnie Johnson. Johnnie was a very special man and a very special musician and he deserves to have this film made about him. Love you Johnnie Johnson, miss you man.”You can hear Pat on Sirius Radio from 6 a.m. to midnight on Channel 6 “60’s Vibrations” from 6 a.m. to noon; Channel 16 “The Vault” from noon to six; and Channel 74 “Sirius Blues” from 6 p.m. to midnight. When in New York, you can check out Pat on Q104.3 FM. Thanks Pat. Art HollidayDirector, JOHNNIE BE GOOD