Street drummer Anthony Sheriff performs off of the back of his truck July 2020

I WAS THERE: Using His Truck as a Stage, Inglewood Resident Anthony Sheriff Drums up Cheers in Quarantine

My name is Anthony Sheriff and I go by Sheriff Drumman. I play drums on the back of my pickup truck. I've been doing that now for about four years.

When I started playing the drums when I was two years old and my grandmother's living room watching Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow. And every time the music would come on, they noticed that I knew how to play a alone drums. Here we go. I grew up in south central Los Angeles. I went through quite a few things in my life as a youngster, even before planned germs.

I was always bullied or picked on when I was twelve years old. September 16th, 1996. About seven o'clock in the afternoon here, my mom got into it and it wasn't that good. I walked away bleeding and basically I ran away from home. I didn't want to be there no more.

I ran away from home when I was 12 and ended up in foster care. I flunked out of high school just cause I want to play music. All I wanted to do was play my drums. Things got kind of rough. I became an alcoholic.  And when the second divorce hit, the only thing I can think of was my drums. And so over a period time, it was like, you know what? This is the only thing that's keeping me alive. My drums got that serious to me. It got so serious that Oh, my. Take my drums away from me I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don't know how I’m going to eat, where I'm going to sleep. Just don't take my drums away.

There has been times cops have came up to me and they would take me to jail for playing the drums. One night the police had us laid out on the ground saying they were going to beanbag as to death right there. There's been times I come home and I just lay on my pillow and just I just cry. Like there's been times on I’m like I’m not doing this no more. So I took a break. I did take a small break, but I've never considered stopping.

When this pandemic first hit, I went viral on Twitter. Tons of pictures and videos, everybody is dancing. It’s phenomenal. If I could go tto a house party at  one person's house and the entire community comes out and everybody is out there having a good time that means I’ve done my job. I came just to make this person happy. But if I made all these people assume I'm really doing my job.

Foster care, alcoholism, quarantine: his drums got Anthony Sheriff through it all. The street drummer and Inglewood resident bangs out the beats off of the back of his Ford pickup truck while offering spontaneous concerts in neighborhoods throughout the city. In this episode of I WAS THERE, Sheriff explains how his drums became a lifeline, rescuing him from despair and how he hopes they’ll do the same for others suffering through the global pandemic. 

About the Series

"I WAS THERE" is about telling a great story. This series of first-person accounts breaks current and historical events down to human scale, carefully taking the viewer behind some of Southern California’s biggest headlines.

Production team

Executive Producer: Karen Foshay 

Producers: Tori Edgar, Denise Chan, Michael Ray & Karen Foshay 

Photographers: Trevor Jackson, Karen Foshay

Editor/Graphics: Michael Ray, Andy Viner

 

Get the free PBS App

Full Episodes

Upcoming Airdates

The New Normal

California's wildfires are more severe and deadlier than ever before. Debates are raging as to what to do, who will pay for billions of dollars in damage and what can be done to lessen the destruction as California adjusts to its new normal: year-around fire.

  • 2020-09-30T22:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Out of Bounds

One of the nation's top high school athletes was on a path to the NFL, but instead became the poster child for what's wrong with L.A.'s mental health system. "SoCal Connected" documents the life and times of Dorsey High's Antonio Carrion.

  • 2020-10-06T14:30:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-10-06T18:30:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-10-07T22:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Under Pressure

Parents are willing to spend thousands to get the competitive edge in the college admissions process, but at what cost? Socal Connected takes a revealing look at the high stakes world of the for-profit education consultant business.

The following changes were made to the original episode:
Students featured in the #decisionday section were replaced with new photos.

  • 2020-10-14T22:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Life In Plastic: California’s Recycling Woes

As California deals with the fallout of a global waste crisis, plastic manufacturers continue to spread misleading information about recycling, while spending big on lobbying efforts to keep their products on the shelves.

  • 2020-10-21T22:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD