I wish I'd known more about Sherman Hemsley while he was alive, because he was really out there . . . and apparently NOTHING like his George Jefferson character.

Back in the '70s, Sherman was a HIPPIE.  The website BadAssDigest.com says he loved PROG ROCK and even recorded an album with Yes singer Jon Anderson.

It was called 'Festival of Dreams' . . . but sadly, it remains unreleased.

And Daevid Allen of the band Gong has a crazy story of meeting Sherman in the late '70s.

He says there was a sign inside Sherman's door that read, "Don't answer the door because it might be THE MAN."  He soon found out WHY Sherman was worried about being hassled.

Allen says, quote, "There were two Puerto Ricans that had an LSD laboratory in his basement, so they were really paranoid.  They also had little crack / freebase depots on every floor."

He also showed Allen a room in which the Gong track "Flying Teapot" was playing over and over again on a loop.

The room had darkened windows and there were, quote, "three really dumb-looking, very voluptuous Southern gals stoned and wobbling around naked . . . who were obviously there for the guys to play around with."

Meanwhile, the website Gawker.com says there have been, quote, "longstanding rumors" that Sherman was GAY.  They don't seem to be based on any real evidence though.

But a lot of people are jumping on the fact that Sherman was never married and had no kids.

One last note . . . The coroner's office in El Paso, Texas says Sherman died of natural causes, and no autopsy was needed.

Wow . . . don't you suddenly wish you knew more about Sherman after all these years?  What did a guy like this do in his spare time?  Why didn't he share his weirdness with the rest of us?  I feel so cheated.