TORONTO - "Late Show" bandleader Paul Shaffer says his friendship with convicted murderer Phil Spector has not wavered in the wake of the music producer's incarceration.
The late-night TV sidekick said Friday that he even plans to visit Spector in prison as soon as he gets the chance, noting they've been friends for 20 years.
"We went out to hear jazz together and I got to be in the recording studio with him watching him work," Shaffer said during a brief stop in Toronto to promote his recently released memoir, "We'll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives."
"I think of all the things that I've gotten to do, all the wonderful people that I've played with, being in the recording studio with Phil Spector tops them all. And of course now he is in prison. I hope to visit him, I still consider him a friend and what can you say? A terrible way for a guy like that to be remembered. He is a great artist, still."
Shaffer said he hasn't spoken with Spector since before the songwriter was charged in the murder of actress Lana Clarkson. Spector was convicted earlier this year and is serving 19 years to life in a California prison.
Still, Shaffer says he considers himself "a loyal friend."
"When he and I were hanging out he was a great friend and a great supporter of mine and came to my aid in a number of places that I can remember," said Shaffer, who is originally from Thunder Bay, Ont.
Spector's musical influence on Shaffer is one of the many anecdotes included in the light-hearted book, which steers clear of divulging any dirt or touching on well-publicized celebrity scandals.
The memoir includes stories from Shaffer's days at "Saturday Night Live" providing the musical backdrop for comics including Gilda Radner and John Belushi, his longtime friendship with fellow Canucks Martin Short and Eugene Levy, and backstage encounters with musical legends including Bob Dylan and Ray Charles.
It also delves into his early days as bandleader of NBC's "Late Night with David Letterman," and later on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman."
On Friday, Shaffer steered clear of commenting on any of the recent controversy surrounding Letterman, who admitted to sexual relations with female staffers on the CBS talk show.
Shaffer said he's been told that he cannot speak about it while legal proceedings are underway.