Steve’s Music Store is usually a joyful place, where anyone can pick up an instrument and give it a try. But an undeniable wave of sadness has washed over the famous store these days.
Longtime general manager Sheldon Sazant died on Thursday. He was 58 years old.
“I was obviously devastated,” said Mario Gervais, an employee at the store.
“It’s a huge shock and a huge cloud over the Montreal music scene today because of his loss,” said store manager Jason Hart.
By all accounts, Sazant was far more than just a salesman. To many, he was the face of Steve’s, and all his colleagues looked up to him.
“Everybody knew Sheldon,” said Hart.
“Sheldon was able to help and make everybody feel special.”
“He would always say ‘we’re here to sell dreams’; he didn’t have that ‘sell, sell, sell’ vibe,” said Gervais.
“He truly had a passion for this field and it really showed in the way he interacted with people.”
Sazant started working at Steve’s as a teenager more than 40 years ago, at the iconic old location on Saint Antoine.
“I grew up in this store,” he told Global News in 2017, before Steve’s moved to Ste. Catherine Street.
“Obviously a lot of emotions, blood, sweat and tears have been put into this location.”
Michael Kirman, the son of late Steve’s founder Steve Kirman, has known Sazant since he was a toddler.
“I’m going to miss him. He’s my adopted big brother,” Kirman told Global News on Friday.
“His impact was incredible on the Montreal music scene and the entire Canadian music scene. Everyone knew Sheldon. Everyone was Sheldon’s friend.”
Sazant’s late-night, show-saving assists for professional musicians were legendary.
“I cant tell you how many times we’d walk into Steve’s and say ‘oh we need this,'” recounted Jason Rockman, lead singer of the metal band Slaves on Dope.
“He’d say ‘take it! Bring it back in good shape.’ He was that kind of guy. He would put his neck out for you.”
Rockman said when his teenaged son recently showed interest in playing guitar, he brought him to to Steve’s to meet Sheldon.
“One of my greatest pleasures of the past couple years was walking into Steve’s with my son, and having Sheldon tell him the exact same thing he told me: ‘Kid, I’ve known your dad forever, and you’re family now.'”
To Sazant, it didn’t matter if you were a star. Aspiring musicians were just as important.
“Regardless of your level of knowledge or music he would take the time — with a smile and make you feel part of it, really make you feel like a musician and a rock star when you walked through those doors,” said Pierrefonds-Roxboro mayor Jim Beis, who said he had been a Steve’s customer since he was a teenager.
Many were blindsided by the news. Few knew Sazant had been battling cancer for the past few months.
Those close to him believe his legacy of kindness will live on.
“I talked to his brother yesterday, and we just summed him up as one word, and that’s love. That’s how I’m going to remember,” said Kirman.
The funeral will be held on Sunday, and according to Steve’s staff a tribute concert is already in the works.