Sherman Hemsley – Sister Sledge, Jazz, Rock and LSD?

Sherman Hemsley
Sherman Hemsley

Legendary actor and performer Sherman Hemsley, who died on July 24, 2012, was much more than the hilarious roles he played and hit television series like “All in the Family,” “The Jeffersons,” and “Amen.”

Sherman Hemsley was a seasoned performer, who launched his career in Philadelphia, as an actor.

Hemsley was a member of the 20th Street gang, before he moved to New York as a Post Office worker and eventually joined the cast of the play “Purlie.”

Sherman Hemsley starred in the play “Purlie” alongside singers Melba Moore and Linda Hopkins.

Throughout his career, Hemsley, who was also a Jazz keyboardist, was always into a variety of music.

In one episode of “The Jeffersons,” George Jefferson even attempts to manage a group name The Satins, which is actually Sister Sledge.

Sister Sledge
Sister Sledge

After he left “The Jeffersons,” Sherman Hemsley fronted a standup/singing/comedy act in Atlantic City in June of 1988.

One of the most interesting facts about the musical side of Sherman Hemsley was that he was a fanatic for the Spanish, Psychedelic rock group Gong.

The actor was a huge fan of Gong, a pioneering Psychedelic rock group from Europe started by Soft Machine founder Daevid Allen.

Hemsley even went as far as flying the group in to his Hollywood mansion, at the height of his fame.

In the book “The Boy Who Cried Freebird: Rock & Roll Fables and Sonic Storytelling,” Daevid Allen recounted an alleged encounter with Sherman Hemsley.

“It was 1978 or 1979, and Sherman Hemsley kept ringing me up,” Daevid Allen said.

“I didn’t know him from a bar of soap because we didn’t have television in Spain (where I was living). He called me from Hollywood saying, ‘I’m one of your biggest fans and I’m going to fly you here and put flying teapots all up and down the Sunset Strip.’ I thought, ‘This guy is a lunatic.’ He kept it up so I said, ‘Listen, can you get us tickets to L.A. via Jamaica? I want to go there to make a reggae track and have a honeymoon with my new girlfriend.’ He said, ‘Sure! I’ll get you two tickets.’”

The tickets arrived and Daevid Allen spent sometime in Hollywood, before he eventually met Sherman Helmsey at the airport.

Sherman Helmsey
Sherman Helmsey

A throng of fans surrounded Helmsey as he ushered Daevid Allen to a limo that was waiting near by.

What’s transpired afterwards is almost unbelievable.

“We get into this stretch limousine with Sherman and immediately there’s a big joint being passed around. I say, ‘Sorry man, I don’t smoke.’ Sherman says, ‘You don’t smoke and you’re from Gong?

When Sherman Hemsley and Daevid Allen arrived at Hemsley’s Los Angeles house, the scene was wild.

“There were two Puerto Ricans that had a LSD laboratory in his basement, so they were really paranoid,” Daevid Allen said. “They also had little crack/freebase depots on every floor. Then Sherman says, ‘Come on upstairs and I’ll show you the Flying Teapot room.’ Sherman was very sweet but was surrounded by these really crazy people.”

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