Sherman Hemsley left us yesterday and that sucks.
In the late 90s we were releasing our product ACID to the market and getting ready to hit COMDEX and NAMM (our largest trade shows). One day our head of marketing Roy Elkins came up to me and said that he was considering using Sherman Hemsley as our spokesperson at the tradeshows. Roy had been long time friends with Sherman and what many people didn’t know was Sherman was a musician. Roy had hooked him up with a copy of ACID and Sherman was loving making his own music with it.
At COMDEX we had these giant laminated 10 foot tall head shots of Sherman. When we came back I remember that one of those hung on the wall of our shipping department for years. Every day you’d roll through there would be a giant Sherm staring at you. There was something right about that. One of the guys from that shipping department works in sales today at Sonic Foundry. A couple years ago I asked him if he knew whatever happened to that poster. He wasn’t sure and we both were a little bit bummed that it’d been lost. I have know idea where I’d ever hang it but I really wish I still had it.
A good friend of mine Steve who worked for Creative Labs, the makers of the Soundblaster card, came up to me one day during the convention. As he stood looking over at Sherman he said, “You guys really have Sherman Hemsley as your spokesperson for ACID. Man, I love you guys, you’re so weird!” He then quickly rushed over to meet him.
Later that evening Roy, Rimas, and I were sitting at a black jack table in the casino of our hotel. Sherman had told Roy that he wanted to come down and hang with us for a while. It was pretty apparent when Sherman had hit the casino. I swear that every single table in that casino turned and looked when he went by. You could hear people saying “Hey! isn’t that George Jefferson?”.
I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with Sherman, but from what I did I noticed a humble, sincerely nice man. His voice always quiet and a huge smile as he met with adoring fans. He loved music, and he loved making music. I am lucky to have met him.
I have a lot of mementos from my days at Sonic Foundry, but this is one of my favorites. At the shows we handed out CD’s with 3 tracks that Sherman had created using ACID. His vocals are buried quietly in the tracks, much like the gentle soul that he was. His simple message of “peace”, so representative of the man. So where ever you are are Sherman Hemsley, “Peace”.