I wasn’t sure what to write about Jack, but I wanted to make sure I said something before the news cycle moved on.
Jack was a very kind and open man who was always patient with me and my annoyingly specific questions. He didn’t have to give me the time of day, and yet he gave me that and so much more.
Anthony called him a “unique dude” in the band’s Instagram post, and that’s a pretty good descriptor. Some things about him I found, honestly, bizarre; he was a real stickler for grammar and spelling, and he seemed to have a kind of strange hobby in noting celebrities birthdays on his Facebook page, even the most D-list nobody. That I never quite figured out, but I always found endearing.
Jack was a fantastic guitarist, and a loving husband and father, and I’m going to miss seeing him pop up on my Facebook feed. He has left us far too soon, and I wish him and his family well.
I knew Jack, and we had a nice relationship, but there were others in the RHCP community who were much closer to him. One of those people is Max Elfimov, who was one of the first people I thought about when I heard Jack had passed. Jack himself was also a big fan of Max:
I thought it would be nice to ask if Max wanted to write something about his friend Jack, and what he replied with is part biography, part memoir, and part passionate defence of Jack’s place in the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
And if you’re looking for a soundtrack to read this with, might I suggest this.
The rest of this newlsetter is Max’s words. All I’ve added is the odd link here and there.
Jack Sherman, Flea, Anthony Kiedis, Cliff Martinez, May 1984.
On Tuesday, August 18, 2020, at the age of 64, Jack Morris Sherman, the guitarist of The Red Hot Chili Peppers between December 1983 and February 1985, died suddenly and unexpectedly. He died of a heart attack - 11 days before that Jack’s mother had passed away, and, most likely, the musician could not survive it.
For many years, the large “family” of former and current members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers lived relatively calmly and without any losses. 32 years have passed since the tragic death of Hillel Slovak, and the death of Sherman is the first truly tragic moment in the history of the band since Slovak’s death. The first two guitarists are gone now. The early members of the group will no longer be able to get together to discuss the affairs of the past and forget old grievances and misunderstandings. Now, under the Chili Peppers videos from 1984, there are unbearably sad comments like “RIP Jack Sherman”, and soulless sellers on eBay are already selling Jack Sherman 1956 - 2020 T-shirts, although yesterday they did not even know about the existence of the musician.
Sherman was literally deleted from the history of the group for years; his photo was not included on the cover of “What Hits?”, where half of the songs were written with his participation; he is barely mentioned in all documentaries about the group, many fans associate Jack exclusively with Fingerease and the ridiculous stories described in autobiography of Anthony Kiedis.
Who was Jack Sherman really? A quiet family man who, in happier circumstances could have been one of the best guitarists of our time? The man who saved The Red Hot Chili Peppers at the band’s most critical moment? Let’s hear the story.
Jack Sherman, 1958.
Jack Morris Sherman was born on January 18, 1956 in Miami, Florida. In childhood, Sherman and his family moved first to New York, then to California. At the age of 8, Jack saw the legendary performance of The Beatles at the Ed Sullivan show, became fanatically interested in the work of the Liverpool band, and picked up a guitar. A couple of years later, he traded a worn-out Beatles disc for a new album by The Rolling Stones and plunged deeper into the jungle of rock music. In San Diego, he began playing in the groups Funky Demon, Pagan Tumor, Boilerhouse, Redemption, and Search.
Jack Sherman and Redemption, 1974
At the same time, Sherman became seriously interested in funky music and George Clinton discography. In the fall of 1977, he moved to Los Angeles, where he worked in a number of musical groups, in particular - with former Jethro Tull bass player Glenn Cornick. In December 1983, Jack’s older sister, Gail, who was then a singer, called Jack and said that two young men she knew from the Hollywood scene needed a guitarist, and they had a contract with EMI.
After that, Jack called Flea, and the future colleagues had a very pleasant conversation, as a result of which the musicians agreed on the time and place of the audition. The audition took place at the house of Addy Brick, the girlfriend of Hillel Slovak. Already during this meeting, the basis for the future song True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes appeared, the manager of the band Lindy Goetz was impressed by Sherman’s performance, but they were not sure about their readiness to take Sherman into the lineup.
Then a second audition took place, as a result of which, in the evening, Jack heard a message on his answering machine in which Anthony, Flea and Cliff, in the spirit of The Three Stooges, sang “You got the gig, you got the gig, you got the gig”. The group began intensive rehearsals, and already in January 1984 the first versions of new compositions appeared. Photographer Ivy Ney captured the updated RHCP lineup, and soon the images appeared in local Los Angeles newspapers.
The first photo session with Jack & Cliff, Ivy Ney, late December 1983/early January 1984
Jack made his stage debut with The Red Hot Chili Peppers on January 19, 1984 at the Music Machine. During the performance, according to Sherman, at the most unexpected moment, Anthony and Flea, knowing that Jack was on a macrobiotic diet, began throwing yogurt and cottage cheese in the guitarist. From that moment on, tension began in the relationship, since Sherman did not accept the group’s harsh humor and took it personally, after which Anthony began to treat the newcomer with great irritation. Anthony’s habit of jumping on other band members and pouring water or beer on stage did not go well with Jack’s discipline, who spent a lot of time adjusting the equipment, wanting to achieve the highest quality sound. The humor of the participants was also different - Sherman joked a lot from the stage, but the jokes turned out to be soft and, at times, naive, which annoyed Anthony and Flea.
**Jack & Anthony, UCLA, February 28, 1984
Meanwhile Jack and Flea were coming up with new song material. Sherman and Balzary wrote the song “Buckle Down” sitting opposite each other with their instruments in chairs. The idea for the cover of “Why Don’t You Love Me” was suggested by Jack Sherman, who wrote most of the music - technically, it was a new composition with old text by Hank Williams. Already at a daytime concert in UCLA on February 28, 1984, the band presented not only new songs, but also rough versions of the tracks “Battleship” and “Yertle the Turtle”, which were to be included in the band’s second album “Freaky Styley”.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers with Alan Thicke, early March 1984
In early March 1984, the group filmed their debut television appearance on Thicke of the Night with Alan Thicke (who also suddenly died of a heart attack in 2016). This aired on March 16, 1984, where the group energetically performed a new composition “True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes”, and the already proven concert number “Get Up & Jump”, which was then quite similar to the version from the 1983 demo tape. A little later Jack remade the verse riff (Sherman himself said about this: “At first I played the parts of Slovak, but then I became not interested in copying someone else’s style and I came up with my own”).
In late March and early April 1984, the band went into Eldorado Studio to record their debut album. Before the recording, the musicians promised each other not to shave until the album was ready; a photo with the unshaven band members, taken during the album sessions, was published in Jack’s official obituary on August 22, 2020.
Jack, Cliff & Anthony, debut album sessions, late March/April 1984
Various candidates were considered as a producer, including Jimmy Page, but in the end the choice fell on Andy Gill. Andy’s relationship with Anthony and Flea went poorly from the very beginning, while Jack listened to the advice of an experienced musician and agreed on certain points. According to Jack, the most creative part of the work began when Anthony left the studio - Flea listened more to Andy’s advice, Cliff and Jack experimented with sound effects. Jack recorded different guitars in different keys for several songs. A Guild acoustic guitar was rented specifically for the recording, which was nearly smashed by Anthony Kiedis, who protested against the use of the instrument on the album in a fit of anger. “If not for Andy Gill and the attempts to work through the material, the album would have lasted 15 minutes,” Jack recalled.
The track “Mommy Where’s Daddy” was born during a jam by Flea and Jack – the band quickly finished the song, and Anthony came up with the lyrics. To this day, “Mommy Where’s Daddy” is the only song in the history of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, performed by all lineups and members. Until the last day, Jack was very proud of this track.
Keith Morris as a Chili Peppers lead singer & Jack Sherman, May 12, 1984
Work on the album was completed by May 1984, and the band began concerts. On May 12, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ historic performance was held at the Grand Olympic Auditorium, notable for the fact that Anthony Kiedis did not appear. He had disappeared before going on stage. The situation was saved by Circle Jerks vocalist Keith Morris, who replaced Anthony and yelled into the microphone to the music of the group. Jack Sherman recalled this performance as one of the funniest and most unusual.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers debut album photo session by Howard Rosenberg, May 1984
At the end of May 1984, the official photo shoot for the debut album of The Red Hot Chili Peppers took place - photographer Howard Rosenberg took a series of pictures where the participants appeared in strange outfits. Jack Sherman donned his “ape suit” - the grey jacket with long black hair that he wore at most concerts and, in particular, appeared in it in the video for “True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes”. The suit now belongs to his son Robin. Jack used a toy lobster and a deflated beach ball as a headgear. The photos appeared on the inner sleeve of the first edition of the debut album. Since 1988, there have been no photos and no mention of Sherman on the reissues of the disc, historical justice was restored when the album was reissued on CD in 2003 - Rosenberg’s photos were used in the booklet.
Chili Peppers t-shirt by Edward Colver and Bad Otis, this copy belongs to Jack’s son Robin
The main inner sleeve photo used on the stickers, T-shirts and posters was taken by Edward Colver and edited by artist Bad Otis, who later created the famous Red Hot Chili Peppers logo. Colver said he asked the band members to shake their heads in all directions. Many shots were taken, and the funniest ended up in the picture. The photo was a reference to an old poster for The Three Stooges - favorites of Anthony, Flea, Cliff and Jack.
In the summer of 1984, shortly before the release of his debut album, Jack Sherman got married. This was perhaps the most joyful moment for a musician at that time. The newlyweds spent a little over a month together, on August 10 (according to other sources - 11), 1984, their debut album appeared on the shelves of record stores, and in September 1984 a long grueling tour began.
In the month before the tour, the group went to New York for a music seminar (according to some sources, it was Jack Sherman who initiated this trip). Anthony and Flea gave their first interview to MTV, while Jack met his idol, George Clinton. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were already thinking about Clinton’s candidacy for the role of the producer of the second album. Earlier, Sherman, who was very fond of funk, introduced Flea and Anthony to the discography of P-Funk, which ultimately played a significant role in the music of RHCP. According to some reports, an ugly story happened during a music seminar in New York - when the group faced Clinton, one of the group members (Flea or Anthony) pulled Jack Sherman’s pants down. This was one of the many episodes of humiliation of the musician.
Then, in August 1984, the MTV film crew came to rehearsal at The Red Hot Chili Peppers to shoot a short clip for the Cutting Edge program. Filming took place at The War’s rehearsal area on Sunset Boulevard opposite the old Guitar Center building (RHCP rehearsed there regularly at that time). Only Anthony, Flea and Jack were interviewed. The band performed “Buckle Down” and “Get Up & Jump” - one of the only two known available live video performances with Jack Sherman to date.
The band performing live at The Roxy, September 26, 1984. Photograph by Ann Summa.
Jack during the video shoot of “True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes”
On September 26, 1984, a large-scale presentation party took place at the Roxy Club, dedicated to the release of the debut album of The Red Hot Chili Peppers. On the same days, the group filmed the first video in their videography - “True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes”. The shooting took place in the same outfits and decorations that were used for the presentation concert. Jack Sherman was provided with a plastic fake guitar, which, in his recollection, was completely meaningless and ridiculous. During the filming, Jack was actively involved in generating ideas, in particular - the scene where the group jumps backwards into the sand was Sherman’s idea. The video was finished by October 10, 1984 and aired on MTV and Night Flying in late October 1984.
The tour, which began in October 1984, turned out to be the most difficult and exhausting for the group. If in California the group was already well known and loved, in other states the Red Hot Chili Peppers were nobodies, and local viewers did not always welcome the musicians with enthusiasm. Sherman suffered double stress - in addition to attacks from drunken and aggressive spectators, Anthony periodically attacked him on stage, deliberately trying to knock down the guitarist’s serious mood and make him nervous. On this tour, the band rode in two old vans - the first carried the equipment, the second - the musicians. 60 performances in 64 days is not an easy task even for experienced musicians. The band members also slept little on the tour - the enterprising manager of the group, Lindy Goetz, upon arrival in a new city, led the group to all local TV channels and radio stations, trying to get into at least some kind of program and announce The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
2 hours before a concert, Jack would set up his equipment, causing Anthony and Flea to ridicule him; the band wanted to put on a punk show, and the perfectly tuned pedals did not fit into the concept of punk frenzy. Ironically, 5 years after that, John Frusciante also diligently set up his equipment before concerts, earning the respect of the rest of the group. After the concerts, Anthony, Flea and Cliff would go out to hang out and celebrate if the concert was successful. Jack almost always went to the hotel right after the show to call his wife and sleep. All of this created a big chasm between Sherman and Kiedis with Flea. Only occasional joint trips to the cinema during breaks helped to reduce the tension.
During the tour, the band started writing new songs. The compositions “Battleship” and “Blackeyed Blonde” entered setlists, unfortunately, the appearance of other songs from the forthcoming album “Freaky Styley” is not yet known, given that only two audio recordings of the tour are in the hands of fans. Around the end of 1984 and beginning of 1985, the band recorded demos of new songs, after which the tape went to Detroit to George Clinton. The legendary funk musician liked the demos and agreed to work on the new album. Meanwhile, Sherman, despite his conflicts with Anthony, grew more and more accustomed to the group and began to enjoy the concerts; by the end of the tour, the group had a small but loyal group of fans.
But Sherman’s plans for the future in the group were not destined to come true - in February 1985, after the band had performed in New Orleans at Mardi Gras, Hillel Slovak called Flea and expressed a desire to return to the group. It should be noted that in August 1984 What Is This, in which Slovak and Irons played, gave a joint concert with The Red Hot Chili Peppers. And during the encore performance, Sherman and Martinez gave up their seats to Slovak and Irons - the group performed for the only time in 1984 in its original lineup. According to eyewitnesses, all viewers, including Slovak, were impressed by how strong and professional The Red Hot Chili Peppers have become over the past six months. It is quite possible that this influenced Slovak’s desire to return to his former colleagues.
The Numbers nightclub, Texas, December 13, 1984
Contrary to popular information, Sherman did not know about the return of Hillel. He was preparing for the recording of the album “Freaky Styley” in Detroit and was looking forward to meeting his idol - George Clinton. But one day in February 1985, colleagues knocked on his door. Anthony and Flea, according to Jack - in a not very sober state, shouted with laughter: “You’re fired! Bye!”, and they ran away, jingling cups on their jackets and rolling with laughter. Nothing more. No serious conversations, no monetary compensation. This situation upset Jack so much that he spent the next six months with a psychologist. The band had just gone through the hardest tour in their history, full of humiliation and danger, things began to gradually go uphill and suddenly - a sudden dismissal.
However, just a week later, Flea contacted Jack again. This time - politely and over the phone. As it turned out, Hillel Slovak was having difficulty learning “True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes” - the guitarist did not understand how to play the song correctly. Jack, in turn, did not refuse and helped Slovak. After that, communication between Sherman and former colleagues gradually faded away. Jack, however, once found himself at a rehearsal for Flea, Hillel and Cliff.
In subsequent years, Sherman was a guest at Flea’s wedding (Jack walked down the street, Flea saw him when he was driving to the wedding in his car and called right from the window), sang in the choir on “Higher Ground” and “Good Time Boys”. In 1996, Jack and Flea met for the last time at a restaurant in LA. Since then, of his former colleagues, Sherman has maintained relations only with Cliff Martinez, who periodically visited him in Savannah.
Jack returned to his professional career in 1985/1986 as a session guitarist for George Clinton and Bob Dylan, then as a concert guitarist for Charlie Sexton. By the late 1990s, Sherman gradually retired from an active musical career, and on July 10, 2003, he moved to Savannah, Georgia, where he lived until his last day and sometimes performed in local clubs with the main local blues pros.
Sherman married at the end of July 1984 and lived with his wife Ann for 36 years. On August 20, 1986, Sherman had a daughter, Sarah, and on December 14, 1990, a son, Robin, who followed in his father’s footsteps and became a musician.
Jack & Cliff, 2013
Until his last days, Jack talked with fans of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, highly appreciated Frusciante’s talent as a composer, respected Flea, and was friends with Cliff.
***You can’t sit with us
“Freaky Styley” first pressing label
Unfortunately, as stated earlier, the role of Jack Sherman has been significantly diminished since 1985 in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It got to the point that by the early 2000s, very few fans knew about such a guitarist, while many were sure that Hillel Slovak played on the debut album.
The trend started in August 1985; in the first edition of Freaky Styley, Sherman is nowhere listed as a co-author. All songs were written by Red Hot Chili Peppers. Only on the collection “What Hits?” Jack was first credited with a number of songs for the second album.
In September 1988, the first two Red Hot Chili Peppers albums were released on vinyl, cassette and CD. This was the first digital appearance of albums, and the disc inserts on the centerfolds were blank. So there were no photo of Sherman or any information on the CD. This could be considered an accident, if not for the fact that the cassette reissue of “Freaky Styley” contains photos from the cassette first edition of 1985 on the centerfold, while the cassette reissue of “The Red Hot Chili Peppers” has all the photos and names of the participants completely removed.
“What Hits” booklet collage, 1992
In the fall of 1992, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ first notable collection of songs, “What Hits?” was released, bringing together the brightest songs from the first four albums + the fresh hit “Under the Bridge” as an attractive bonus. If you look closely at the cover, there is no Jack Sherman in any of the many archived photos. Again - can be mistaken for an accident. But on the inner sleeve there is a collage, which shows almost all the band members from 1983 to 1991. Everyone except Jack. This could be attributed to litigation, but the collection was released in the fall of 1992, and according to various sources, Sherman only filed a lawsuit against the group in 1993.
In 1999, when the band embarked on the Californication tour, John Frusciante shared his plans for a repertoire and noted that songs from the first album would be performed live. At the same time, he clarified that the songs will be performed “in the correct version, as Hillel Slovak played them, and not Jack Sherman.” Another unnecessary joke about a former member.
In the fall of 2004, Anthony Kiedis’ long-awaited autobiography “Scar Tissue” appeared on the shelves of bookstores, where the RHCP frontman honestly and frankly tells the story of his life. And if the author talks about most of the heroes of the narrative with warmth and respect, one of the most unpleasant and awkward figures in the book is Jack Sherman. “Reading this book was like being lowered with your head into the toilet,” Jack later said. Largely because of this book, young fans began to dismiss Sherman and joke too much about Fingerease.
In 2012, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The condition for including members was: 1. A member - the founder of the group, 2. A member who worked on at least two albums, 3. A current member of the group. Jack Sherman was left out. Although, firstly, Sherman worked on “Freaky Styley”. Secondly, he took part in the recording of “Mother’s Milk” as a backing vocalist. But again, the participant was thrown overboard.
In 2020, the dark news came through the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ official social media accounts. A small post became the only dedication of the band members to a former colleague. Considering how many years Sherman was ignored during his lifetime, perhaps reticence is now the most sincere decision on the part of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The only time Jack has received positive media praise in his lifetime was in Oral / Visual History, Flea praised Sherman and admitted that the guitarist was in a tough spot and was a funny, smart guy among the dickheads.
Jack’s contributions to the Red Hot Chili Peppers
In a year and 2 months of participation in the RHCP, Sherman has done more than many others would have done if they were in his place. He not only performed songs written with Slovak with dignity, he actively created and invented, participated and generated new ideas. Here is just a small list of what Jack did for the band during his time:
Jack came to a group that had only 6 songs + 3 strange short comic tracks like “Bone”. In a very short time, he helped the group finish the material for the debut album, coming up with 4 completely new compositions (True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes, Buckle Down, Mommy Where’s Daddy, Grand Pappy Du Plenty), finalizing the Baby Appeal and, in fact, writing the melodical basis of Why Don’ t You Love Me - the lyrics were by Hank Williams, but technically it was a completely new song (it was Jack who initiated and wrote this tune).
Sherman, despite constant quarrels with Anthony Kiedis, managed to insist that the band play more seriously and professionally. He and Cliff Martinez set the bar high for the band’s live performances. If we compare the live recordings of 1983 and 1984, the progress is more than obvious. And if in 1983 the guitarist Hillel Slovak perceived the group more as a joke, then, having visited as a spectator at their performance with a renewed line-up with Sherman & Martinez, he was surprised how powerful and serious they began to sound. This also influenced Slovak’s desire to return to the group.
Jack Sherman immersed the other band members in funky music. If before that Anthony and Flea had a fairly general idea of funk, then Sherman introduced them to the full discography of George Clinton and Sly Stone. He also proposed Clinton’s candidacy for the position of the producer of the second album. Flea also mentions that in “Oral/Visual” book.
Jack was a member of the group during the toughest tour. If the performances of 1983 were held in Los Angeles for acquaintances and friends who always greeted the group with enthusiasm, and by the summer of 1985 RHCP had formed a small but confident audience, then 1984 was very difficult - the band was still unknown, in a number of States the audience did not like the RHCP music and, at times, the musicians had to literally flee from the stage from drunken jerks. 60 performances in 64 days - is a serious challenge for any musician.
Sherman was the first in the band to pay attention to the sound and condition of the equipment. Before each performance, he spent 2 hours fiddling with the pedals to make them sound right. A similar approach will begin to be practiced by John Frusciante in the future, earning the respect of colleagues, but in 1984 Sherman was laughed at because of his perfectionism.
While on that hard tour, Jack helped the band write 80% of the material for their second album, “Freaky Styley”. The group was simultaneously touring with their debut album in the States, while already preparing the second.
Sherman initiated a number of scenes in the video for “True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes” - in particular the scene where the band jumped backwards into the sand.
Jack, at his own risk, suggested that the band use an acoustic guitar in the recording of their debut album. “No, this f— instrument won’t be on my f—ng album,” Kiedis yelled at him then and nearly broke the guitar (sources - Jack himself, Andy Gill, Dave Jerden). Nevertheless, Sherman got his way. The next time the acoustic guitar on the RHCP album will sound only in 1991 on the track Breaking The Girl.
Sherman strove to give out as much music as possible at the concert. Previously, the group made huge pauses between songs, when Slovak accidentally broke the strings, and then took a long time restringing them. For this, Sherman began using Fingerease - it helped to keep the strings in good condition and turned out to be changed much less often. Alas, this fact was misinterpreted by Anthony Kiedis in his biography “Scar Tissue”, as a result of which many fans to this day consider Jack a sissy and idiot who “just kept his fingers from calluses.”
When Jack was thrown out of the band one day, it turned out that Slovak was unable to figure some compositions co-written by Sherman, in particular - True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes. And if Flea and Kiedis were saying goodbye to Jack, shouting in his face: “You’re fired, bye, hahaha” and jumping off clanking cups, then a week later Flea called Jack and asked him to help Hillel choose the right chords for “True Men”. Sherman, despite the previous situation, agreed to help.
Songs written with the participation of Jack Sherman
True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes - written in late December 1983/early January 1984. Jack and Flea wrote the basis of that song when Jack was passing the audition for the band. Their jam was the rudimental form of this song.
Buckle Down - the band needed some more new songs for a debut lp and Jack and Flea sat down in chairs in front of each others, stared in the faces of each other and began writing the song.
Baby Appeal - basically it’s Hillel Slovak’s song but it was finished with Jack Sherman and the band gave him credits (the only song where both Slovak and Sherman were credited)
Why Don’t You Love Me - a song with lyrics from Hank Williams but a new tune written mostly by Jack
Mommy Where’s Daddy - result of Jack and Flea’s studio jam which became the only song that was performed by all Chili Peppers lineups.
Grand Pappy Du Plenty - psychedelic jam by Sherman/Martinez/Gill that was made during the final sessions of debut album after they smoked some weed and listened to The Band’s old lp.
Battle Ship - the number that was planned to be released as a single in early 1985, but this never happened. The song was played during the debut album tour.
Blackeyed Blonde - a new song that was played during late 1984 shows to support debut album.
Millionaires Against Hunger - late 1984 irony about 1984 charity songs by all-stars. The song was played live before “Freaky Styley” was released.
Jungle Man - the song was written in late 1984 and most likely demoed at that time with Jack - those demos were sent to George Clinton in Detroit in February 1985.
The Brothers Cup - the song was written in late 1984 and most likely demoed at that time with Jack - those demos were sent to George Clinton in Detroit in February 1985.
American Ghost Dance - the song was written in late 1984 and most likely demoed at that time with Jack - those demos were sent to George Clinton in Detroit in February 1985.
Catholic School Girls Rule - the song was written in late 1984/early 1985 and most likely was demoed at that time with Jack - those demos were sent to George Clinton in Detroit in February 1985.
Lovin’ & Touchin’ - a small joke number which was also credited to Jack as co-writer
Yertle The Turtle - the rudimental version of that song was played even before the debut album sessions, the band finished the song in early 1985.
Bonus: Human Satellite - an unreleased track from debut album sessions that was recorded but never released. Cliff and Jack told several times that it was a lame commercial rubbish. Probably was planned to be released as a bonus track for debut re-issue in 2003, but was rejected.
Also Nevermind - a song originally written with Slovak and Irons was polished by Sherman and Martinez. The polished version appeared on “Freaky Styley” album with Hillel on guitar.
Each person has a memory of one day from his youth, which seems to be a special, definite turning point, and until the end of days this day is remembered in color and detail. For me, this day was Saturday, April 19, 2003. Me, the person who laughed at my classmates who listened to “Californication”, a huge fan of Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and Frank Zappa, suddenly discovered the album “Freaky Styley”, amazing and completely different from what the modern Red Hot Chili Peppers did. This was the stage of infatuation, when listening to another album could extinguish your interest instead of strengthening it. And on April 19, 2003, I bought the CD with the debut album of The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I turned on the disc and seemed to be transported to another dimension - unrestrainedly energetic, slightly aggressive, chaotic, unlike anything else, the music captured me. It was a splendid half hour of listening, which went by in an instant. I didn’t switch any songs and as soon as the disc finished I realized that I could officially consider myself a fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
From that day on, I plunged headlong into the history of the group, and for 17 years now I have continued to study, be happy and sad, surprised and disappointed, discuss and argue. And, of course, having loved the band’s debut album with all my heart, I realized that in many ways the guitarist Jack Sherman was behind this sound - a man about whom it was almost impossible to find any information at that time. Not a single official biography of the Red Hot Chili Peppers had been released - neither “Oral / Visua”l, nor Scar Tissue, and the guitarist’s name was hardly mentioned in unofficial publications. From the very beginning, when watching the video for True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes, I felt sympathy for the guitarist in a gray “ape” suit with a plastic prop guitar, realizing that he was responsible for many songs on the album. Two years later, I read the biography of Anthony Kiedis, Scar Tissue, and was unpleasantly surprised by Anthony’s memories of Jack — hardly a single good word.
From the very beginning, I suspected something was wrong and subconsciously sided with the guitarist, who in the book was exposed as a sissy and boring person who did not fit into the group at all. In 2006, a truly unique, priceless, one of the best live recordings of the Red Hot Chili Peppers - Columbus 1984 surfaced in the Internet. After listening to it, I was shocked how great Jack is on the guitar, then it became clear which of the many RHCP guitarists is my favorite … Jack’s bold, bright, expressive, emotional solos made me feel goosebumps. Since that time, I diligently searched for information about the mysterious RHCP member, collected bit by bit all the available photos, a few videos (which were not in the Internet at all until 2006), and each new find only confirmed how great Jack played. After a while, I was surprised to discover that most of the songs for “Freaky Styley” (my favorite album) were written with Jack. It was only after delving into the history that it became clear that this is the obvious truth - the band began recording the album “Freaky Styley” in early March 1985, while Sherman was fired in mid-February 1985 - too little time to write new songs. Also, if you compare Freaky Styley with the debut album and with The Uplift Mofo Party Plan, it becomes clear that the first two are similar, while Freaky and The Uplift are not very similar. The existence in nature of concert versions of “Battle Ship” and “Blackeyed Blonde” with Sherman is another proof of this information.
In 2013, I found Jack Sherman’s Facebook page and couldn’t resist writing him a few kind words. He quickly replied that he was pleased, and the dialogue ended there. After a while, I asked Jack a question about the history of the unreleased demos for the second album, and as a result we started a dialogue. “Why don’t you add me as a friend?” Sherman asked suddenly. “Because it’s somehow uncomfortable, you already have too many friends, I don’t want to intrude,” I replied then, burning with awkwardness. Jack then adds me as a friend with the words: “If you are interested in music in general and my period in RHCP - welcome!”. At first, I practically did not write to Sherman, not wanting to bother him about any nonsense. Jack periodically posted old photos of the Red Hot Chili Peppers with his participation, but when asked by fans of the group “when was the photo taken?” could not give an answer. Of course, I tried to answer such questions. After that, Jack wrote me a personal message: “Where does this information come from?” And again we got to talking. He was surprised how I manage to recognize the year and month of almost every photo, and from a certain moment he began to send me old photos and ask when it was taken. At some point he even joked: “If you don’t know, then I certainly won’t remember!”
Then my story with Paul McCartney happened (Sir Paul McCartney invited me and my mother on the stage in Munich in 2016). Since Jack has been a Beatles fan since 1964, he couldn’t resist asking how it happened. He asked to write in all details. I did. After which he replied that reading the story he shed a tear. Then he added that I have a beautiful mother. After that, we struck up a long conversation about the history of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, he enthusiastically talked about how he got records of these groups, exchanged with friends, discovered new music for himself. On all significant holidays, we congratulated each other, I remembered that we also congratulated each other on the New Year 2020. If we only knew then that this year would be his last … At the same time, I watched Jack from the sidelines - he didn’t like it when fans of modern RHCP, making friends with him, constantly posted videos with John in the comments, constantly quoted late songs and did not particularly delve into his publication. Given his difficult and challenging history with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jack didn’t like being interviewed about the band, but in 2018 I decided to take a chance. Then the group turned 35 years old and I was preparing a lecture for library 215/1, dedicated to the first year of the group’s existence. If Jack mentioned RHCP, it was often with a negative tone. I wrote to him and asked: “I have a lecture soon. Can I do an interview about this? Only on the condition that it will be built solely on good memories.” Jack said he agreed. For two days he answered my questions, somewhere he forgot an answer, somewhere with my help he restored the chain of certain events. But the interview turned out to be interesting, and at the very end Sherman said that he was very pleased to remember the bright side of that difficult period and that the phantom pains of many years seemed to recede. The only thing that then Jack recalled with resentment was how Kiedis and Flea periodically doused him with yogurt during concerts. To which I told him how Hillel and John were poured with juice, and a vat of pasta was dropped on Chad. Sherman was unaware of this and was surprised that things weren’t really that bad. In this matter, he also felt better.
Jack asked me to visit him. I dreamed about this trip until last Saturday, hatched plans, before my eyes I had a green courtyard in front of the house and Jack, friendly coming out to meet me. He called me repeatedly, to which I replied that I would be happy, but I needed to get an American visa. He once wrote: “Don’t delay your arrival.” These words were disturbing, and I thought: “What if he is ill and therefore hurries?” Nevertheless, until recently, we discussed this possibility with him, and for 2021 I was planning a trip to the United States. Sherman promised to show me the city of Savannah, where he lived since 2003, play the guitar and sign everything that I bring him for his signature - CDs, records, books and photos.
Last year, while lying in the hospital, I sent him a rare photo from Texas 1984, which he was very happy about. Upon learning that I was in the hospital, after the operation, he wished a speedy recovery, joked and wondered where I got such rare pictures from. Then, when I started recording my fourth album “Ledokol “T.”, Sherman helped me with the lyrics of the song “Morning Sun” - he read the lyrics and advised what to edit, and what is ok. One night, he and I began to discuss the murder of John Lennon and the myths associated with this. Not so long ago, Chernobyl and Pripyat were discussed - he was shocked by the pictures of the ghost town, where life stopped in 1986. We also discussed a box turtle crawling into his garden - he was surprised to learn from me that these creatures live for 150 years or more.
This year, we increasingly identified archival photos of the Red Hot Chili Peppers - not only the dates, but also the location. Our last conversation was about Flea’s book “Acid for the children” - I shared with Jack that I was working on a Russian translation and wrote a whole paragraph about him in the section with extra notes. To which he replied: “I hope you will be adequately rewarded for such work.” We wished each other a good day. After that, we communicated only in the comments to his publications.
When my wife and I were returning on the night from Friday to Saturday from St. Petersburg and at 4 am I saw a notification from my Hungarian friend, a RHCP fan, for some reason intuitively felt that this was not good. Usually I am calm about this, but there was definitely a feeling that something was wrong. I went to Instagram, in the official RHCP account - a rare photo with Jack and the mention of his name in the text, which also practically never happened. I went to Facebook and .... REST IN PEACE, JACK SHERMAN. Like an electric shock. Sadness and pain… My wife returned from a train bath while I was sitting and almost crying. I didn’t want to believe it. Even now, as I write all this, I do not fully believe in it. It seems to me that I will write to him: “Let me come to Savannah in a year!” and he will answer: “Yes, it’s high time!” But no, he will not answer. And I won’t go there.
Last night I went to Jack’s photo album with friends & family, where he posted photos of his wife, children, mother. And among these photos I found … myself. Picture made in Library 215/1, right after the lecture. And I felt very warm inside. He knew that I really respect him and appreciated it. And I really appreciated our communication. There is a lot more to remember, but that’s all for now.
God bless you, Jack Morris Sherman.
1956 - ∞
Max Elfimov, Moscow, August 26, 2020