Gert Scholtz en beBee in English, Music / Música BeBee Brand Ambassador • beBee 8/11/2016 · 1 min de lectura · 3,7K

The Story of Sixto Rodriguez

The Story of Sixto Rodriguez

Sixto Rodriguez. Unknown in his home country the USA for forty years after he produced his hit songs. In the seventies he composed numbers such as Forget It, Sugar Man and Crucify Your Mind. A mix of folk, rock and pop which immediately took off in the then apartheid South Africa.

I recall that at that time, everyone had a copy of Cold Fact lying close to their turntable. No party was without it. The poster of the album adorned every record shop and all knew his songs by hart. His anti-establishment themes covered at the time forbidden topics resulting in his songs being banned, which of course, added to his two albums becoming instant hits in seventies South Africa. Rodriguez was a voice from afar stirring the sentiment of young people in South Africa. “He stoked rebellion and helped children of suburbia wake up to the need for change in their own country”.

Born in Detroit of Mexican parents, Sixto Rodriguez was intimately aware of the alienation and marginalization of those not part of mainstream society. His lyrics describe the tough conditions of the downtrodden and a life without roots. Cold Fact and Coming From Reality, his first and then only two albums were commercial flops in the US and his record company closed. Rodriguez quite his music career, bought a derelict house in a government auction for $50, and took a job as a demolition laborer. In the US he was a failed musician.

In South Africa his records found immediate popularity from the start and kept on selling; to date an estimated five hundred thousand. But as time went by, there was no news on this enigmatic singer and no new albums reaching the shores of South Africa. His fans here later believed he had passed away. That is until the late nineties when two South African music enthusiasts began investigating and ultimately after a long search found him in his flat in Woodbridge, Detroit. “Did you know you are bigger in South Africa than Bob Dylan?”

In 1998 Rodriguez came to a hero’s welcome in South Africa. Six sell-out concerts. For some time he would lead a strange double life going back to obscurity in his home city and returning to SA to perform as a music legend. He quit his demolition job, booked more concerts and composed again.

A film producer came across the story of the musician who was an unknown at home and a star in South Africa, and how he was tracked down and brought over for concert performances. The ideal story for a movie. It took years to persuade Rodriguez to take part in a planned documentary about his life. The shoestring budget for the film was not enough and the last scenes were taken on the producer’s iPhone.

Searching for Sugar Man became an Oscar winning film in 2012. 

Director Malik Bendjelloul begged Rodriguez to attend the Oscar awards but he refused saying might take the attention away from the filmmakers. Rodriguez’s popularity finally took off at home.

Now he lives the life of a full-time musician, tours internationally and earns well. Of his earnings his daughter says: “He takes pleasure in giving it away, especially to people that supported him when he wasn’t a commercial success. I do really wish he’d spend some of the money on himself though”.

Sixto Rodriguez today lives in the same modest Detroit home he bought forty years ago. 

 A remarkable man.

Source of quotes: Rolling Stone

debasish majumder 18/11/2016 · #17

nice post to read. enjoyed immensely @Gert Scholtz! thank you very much for sharing such lovely post.

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Jim Murray 17/11/2016 · #16

#5 Synchronicity was what I was thinking too, @Gert Scholtz. Your was more of a review. Mine was more of a story about discovering this film. Nice piece. Been busy packing and haven't been reading as much as usual.

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CityVP 🐝 Manjit 17/11/2016 · #15

Searching for Sugar Man is probably one of the best documentaries I have ever watched. Even when I know the end result (and I am of that ilk that does not like to engage in a spoiler alert - and that horse bolted here some time ago) it is the kind of documentary that I can watch multiple times. The chief reason is the music, if not also the man. It is a documentary that hits home what one group of people may feel and how another culture cannot connect those dots, as well as a story that speaks across a generational timescale. Indeed having read this buzz, I feel the inkling to watch that film again soon. It is that good.

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Gert Scholtz 10/11/2016 · #14

@David B. Grinberg His story must be one of the most remarkable in the music industry - perhaps a lesson in life. Thanks for reading and commenting David - always appreciated.

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Gert Scholtz 10/11/2016 · #13

@Henri Galvão The movie is excellent - do watch when you can. His music is unique and his lyrics that of a poet and philosopher. Thanks for your comments Henri.

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David B. Grinberg 9/11/2016 · #11

Nice buzz, Gert. He certainly has an interesting back story and has admirably remained close to his roots.

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Henri Galvão 9/11/2016 · #10

#5 thank you for the mention, Gert! I still don't know his music, as I want to watch the movie first :-D

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Ken Boddie 9/11/2016 · #9

And to think I almost missed this buzz and @Paul Walters' amazingly coincidental comment. Great spotlight, Gert, on the dice throw that can be the music industry.

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