“I hear you like to get wet”
“I dont know about allah that, but your face sure is fucking melting…”
As the world mourns the passing of Sherman Hemsley, aka television icon George Jefferson, at age 74, we’d like to reflect on the Sherman Hemsley most of the world DIDN’T know – the prog rock fanatic who’d rather be tripping balls and rocking the fuck out to a 10-minute keyboard solo.
And personally, I think that’s how he should be remembered.
Not only did Hemsley have a thing for weird-ass prog rock, he had a VERY big thing for LSD – the guy apparently had an acid lab in his basement, meaning a good chunk of acid bought in LA in the 70′s came right from George Jefferson.
Yeah, keep in mind we’re still talking about George Jefferson here. Yeah, it’s kind of awesome.
Hemsley’s freaky side went further than that, taking his prog/LSD obsession as far as to cut an album with YES singer Jon Anderson called “Festival of Dreams” (which, unfortunately, has never been released to the very-much-not-ready public). Tell me you wouldn’t want to hear THAT.
Most of what we know about George Jefferson, drug head and prog rock fanatic, comes from an interview with Magnet Magazine from Daevid Allen, lead singer of the prog band Gong, who Hemsley loved SO FREAKING MUCH he did everything in his power just so he could hang out with the dude. About his Jeffersonian experience, Allen said:
“It was 1978 or 1979, and Sherman Hemsley kept ringing me up. 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.’
I thought, ‘Well, even if he’s a nut case at least he’s coming up with the goodies.’ The tickets arrived and we had this great honeymoon in Jamaica. Then we caught the plane across to L.A. We had heard Sherman was a big star, but we didn’t know the details. Coming down the corridor from the plane, I see this black guy with a whole bunch of people running after him trying to get autographs. Anyway, 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?’
Inside the front door of Sherman’s house was a sign saying, ‘Don’t answer the door because it might be the man.’ There were two Puerto Ricans that had a LSD laboratory in his basement, so they were really paranoid. 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.
We went up to the top floor and there was this big room with darkened windows and “Flying Teapot” is playing on a tape loop over and over again. There were also three really dumb-looking, very voluptuous Southern gals stoned and wobbling around naked. They were obviously there for the guys to play around with.
[My girlfriend] Maggie and I were really tired and went to our room to go to bed. The room had one mattress with an electric blanket and that was it. No bed covering, no pillow, nothing. The next day we came down and Sherman showed us a couple of [The Jeffersons] episodes.
One of our fans came and rescued us, but not before Sherman took us to see these Hollywood PR people. They said, ‘Well, Mr. Hemsley wants us to get the information we need in order to do these Flying Teapot billboards on Sunset Strip.’ I looked at them and thought they were the cheesiest, most nasty people that I had ever seen in my life and I gave them the runaround. I just wanted out of there. I liked Sherman a lot. He was a very personable, charming guy. I just had a lot of trouble with the people around him.”
Yeah, so in summary: Sheman Hemsley was THE MAN, and had the fucking sweetest pad ever. Dude was like a drug lord from Breaking Bad, but without all the violently-murdering-all-his-enemies burden. Just peace, love, LSD, naked chicks and weird-ass prog rock. All that good shit.
So let’s all remember George Jefferson, the man we knew and loved, but also Sherman Hemsley, the man we never truly got to know and love; an LSD addicted prog rock head who was probably tripping his face off and hearing Peter Gabriel-era Genesis in his head during every single episode of the Jeffersons. And while you’re at it, smoke weed to THIS (or drop acid, or PCP, or crack, or jeezus whatever) the song Hemsley loved so much he had an entire room in his house dedicated to it:Tweet