Sixto Rodriguez – A Rags to Rags Story (Part I of 3)

There are some stories that, besides being inspirational, give you the hope that those with talent will be recognized. Such is the story of Sixto Rodriguez――a Mexican-American folk musician with roots in Michigan. Sixto Diaz Rodriguez owes his name to the fact that he was the sixth sibling in his family of humble immigrants who moved from Mexico to the US in the 1920s. A large number of his songs were centered on the political insensitivity to the poor who lived in the inner cities. His lyrics were all about pervasive injustice, and these were subjects that could easily touch many youngsters in that era.  His story is now the subject of a best selling documentary Searching for Sugar Man that has received glowing reviews from all the critics.

Sixto Rodriguez started his musical career in 1967 with the stage name Rod Riguez. At that time, he put out a single called “I’ll Slip Away”. He then went silent for the next 3 years after which he was taken on by Sussex Records and changed his name to Rodriguez. In 1970, he cut two albums――Cold Fact and Coming from Reality. He did not get much of a response and the label soon let go of him and then the company finally shut down in 1975. With his music career sinking low, Rodriguez gave up on it totally and got into the construction business as a laborer. He spent a large part of his time doing demolition work for renovations as well as roofing.



Sixto Rodriguez (Part 2 of 3)

What Sixto Rodriguez had  no way of knowing was that he was gaining a steady fan following in South Africa and other nations across the oceans. These nations often received the offerings of the western world 6 to 8 months after they were gone from the entertainment world stateside. So, without Rodriguez ever knowing it, he had a fan following just as big as that of Dylan and the other greats of the Woodstock era. With his songs touching a chord with the apartheid-ridden society of Africans and touching the political discord that most white Africans felt at that point. He slowly and steadily took on the status of a cult hero. However, the local legend was that Rodriguez had actually committed suicide when on stage at a show and thus, most of his fans remained blissfully happy with his album Cold Fact.

Rodriguez’s style of music, by his own admission, has a political bent. He does not like to play romantic songs, but rather, those that touch the heart of the youth in terms of present social conditions for them. The 1960s were riddled with hedonism, sexual freedom, experimentation with drugs,  as well as freedom of creativity. All of this came into play in his songs, but they did not do well in the American market. Without Sixto knowing it, his songs went platinum in a country where imports of albums such as his showed up as much as six months after their official release.



Sixto Rodriguez (Part 3 of 3)

Sixto Rodriguez spent most of the 1970s working really hard to raise his three daughters, and he underwent all the discrimination thrown at his class and ethnic background that was rampant at that time. However, the first rays of change came in 1979 when he was invited to play in Australia. He was also a part of the support act for the group Midnight Oil in 1981; then there was silence once again.

In December of 1994, when Cold Fact was 28 years old, Stephen “Sugar” Segerman and his journalist friend Craig Bartholomew came together to try and discover the whereabouts of Sixto. They went on a dedicated search for him and after about 9 months of searching and several phone calls, faxes and even a milk carton photo campaign, they were able to find him. The best part was, Sixto did not even own a telephone then.

In 1998, Sixto Rodriguez went on a huge South African tour where he played six concerts in jam packed 5000-capacity arenas. This was the realization of his musical dream and one which he has accepted rather philosophically. In the year 2003, his song, the Sugar Man, was re-recorded by David Holmes and with the addition of a 30-piece orchestra. Up until then, the country of his origin, America, still remained blissfully unaware of his talent and achievements.

With time however, America has begun to pay tribute to the musical genius of this man. He appeared on the David Letterman show on August 14th of 2012 and in the same month, CNN created a feature on him――an interview that brought to light his entire musical career and the irony of being a star without even knowing it. He was also recently featured on the popular US show 60 Minutes. At the Sundance Festival in 2012, there was the premiere of a documentary film, Searching for Sugar Man, by Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul.

This film went into the details of the several rumors surrounding his death and the reactions of South African fans when they discovered that their hero was alive. The documentary was well received and won the World Cinema Special Jury prize as well as the Audience Award. It was also the opening show at the 2012 Traverse City Film Festival in New York as well as in Los Angeles. The soundtrack for Searching for Sugar Man features a compilation of his two albums Coming From Reality and Cold Fact.

Rodriguez’s story is perhaps the best of a fantasy come true――a youngster pens down songs that are trashed in his own world and they become super hits in an alternate universe. While he may have grown up and lived as part of the masses in Detroit, he was a cult hero in another nation. Despite the fact that he played several concerts in South Africa and Australia, it took a lot to get him out of the poverty in which he lived for most of his life into where he is today. He is very matter-of-fact about his success, and even today, he sometimes finds it hard to believe that songs recorded more than 40 years ago have a cult following.



The latest on Sixto Rodiguez

Here is the latest information from across the web on our favorite singer, Sixto Rodriguez:

Sugar Man: Detroit’s Own Sixto Rodriguez | Michigan in Pictures
Sugar Man: Detroit’s Own Sixto Rodriguez. June 15, 2013. Sugarman Sixto Rodriguez. Next Saturday (June 22nd) I get to be part of a neat moment in the annals of Michigan music when I work with my partner Laura, the wineries of Traverse 

 ‘Sugar Man’ Sixto Rodriguez To Star At Traverse City Wine & Arts …
By Mike Norton. Folk musician Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, whose life story was told in the Oscar-winning documentary “Searching for Sugar Man,” will be the star performer at the 2013 Traverse City Wine & Arts Festival on June 22.

 ‘Sugar Man’ Sixto Rodriguez Awarded Honorary Degree From …
DETROIT — Wayne State University had no idea that a folk hero was in its midst when the Detroit school awarded Sixto Rodriguez a philosophy degree in 1981. Then again, Rodriguez had no idea about his fame, either.

 Brittany Howard and Ruby Amanfu Cover Sixto Rodriguez’s “I Wonder”
It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Saturday’s Song. But with hope that I’ll get back into the swing of sharing a weekly tune, here’s one – a cover of Sixto Rodriguez’s “I Wonder” by Brittany Howard and Ruby Amanfu – that’s just 


Rodriguez Weighs Potential Third Album | Music News | Rolling StoneRodriguez Weighs Potential Third Album | Music News | Rolling Stone


Malik Bendjelloul, Sixto Rodriguez, Michael Moore - 2013 National ...Malik Bendjelloul, Sixto Rodriguez, Michael Moore – 2013 National …—inside-arrivals/p/67200/14/


Rodriguez lies low after 'Sugar Man' Oscar win as friends ...Rodriguez lies low after ‘Sugar Man’ Oscar win as friends …


Sixto Rodriguez | Mountain Spirit Institute: BlogSixto Rodriguez | Mountain Spirit Institute: Blog


Sixto Rodriguez Rocks Paris

Sixto just keeps going like the Energizer bunny.  Last month he toured Paris.  Here are some of the reports on his sold out tour.

Sixto Rodriguez @ Cigale, show N°3, Paris June 05 2013 – rockerparis
Sixto Rodriguez @ Cigale, show N°3, Paris June 05 2013. SIXTO RODRIGUEZ : Résurrection à la Cigale.Hallelujah !!! Hard to believe, after probably the worst shows I’ve been to this year 2013, that RODRIGUEZ will be alive 

 Sixto Rodriguez @ Zénith , show n°2, Paris June 04 2013 – rockerparis
Jun 4, 2013 Another sold-out show for RODRIGUEZ @ the 6500 seats capacity Zénith in Paris. Another sad show: the voice is weak, songs are 


Sixto Rodriguez Sixto Rodriguez “Can’t get away”, Paris Zénith June 03 2013
Sixto Rodriguez, Paris Zénith, June 03 2013 for more on this gig and rock con…


Rich Folks Hoax / Sixto Rodriguez live @ Zenith Paris / 03.06.2013Rich Folks Hoax / Sixto Rodriguez live @ Zenith Paris / 03.06.2013
Rich Folks Hoax / Sixto Rodriguez live @ Zenith Paris / 03.06.2013.


I wonder / Sixto Rodriguez live @ Zenith Paris / 03.06.2013I wonder / Sixto Rodriguez live @ Zenith Paris / 03.06.2013
I wonder / Sixto Rodriguez live @ Zenith Paris / 03.06.2013.


Rodriguez Plays to Fans at NYC’s Beacon Theater

Sixto Diaz Rodriguez may not be hitting the high notes like he used to, but that did not prevent his fans from enjoying the show he performed Sunday night (April 7, 2013) to a sold out crowd at New York City’s Beacon Theatre.

 He is due to play another NYC show at the Cushman and Wakefield Theater at Barclays Center on October 9 and Radio City Music Hall on October 10. Tickets for the October shows are still available.

The 70-year-old singer is best known as a result of the the Oscar-winning documentary “Searching for Sugar Man”.   

Sixto who is currently on tour with his five member band was at his best performing his own songs, like “I Wonder,” with the catchy line, “I wonder how many times you had sex,” and a slightly jazzy version of his beautiful, mournful ballad “I Think of You.”

Rodriguez, who suffers from glaucoma, was led on and off the stage. He was dressed head to toe in black and wore dark glasses. Whether the hat he pulled low over his face protects his eyes from stage lights or merely adds to his aura of mystery and eccentricity is anybody’s guess.

Sixto Rodriguez’s best cover of the night, Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” performed as an encore, asks: “How does it feel, to be on your own … a complete unknown?” Unspoken was the obvious question on everyone’s mind: “How does it feel to find fame four decades later?” Rodriguez never hinted at an answer, instead ending the show with an odd combination of slogans: “Drive safely, and power to the people.”

His band — a drummer, two guitarists and two horns — livened up rock numbers without drowning out his voice and stepped back to let him showcase his still beautifully fluid guitar work. Before one encore, the drummer gestured to the audience to up its applause, and fans obliged, turning polite clapping into a roar.

Before the Beacon Theatre show, there was a screening of Searching for Sugarman at MoMA, which included a Q&A with director Malik Bendjelloul.

Source:  Huffington Post:

More on the Web

‘Sugar Man’ Rodriguez plays to adoring NY crowd | Metro
Evan Agostini Singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez performs at the Beacon Theatre on Sunday April 7, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP). NEW YORK, N.Y. – Sixto Diaz Rodriguez can’t hit the high notes

 Rodriguez adds second NYC show to tour (dates); Oscar-nominated …

As mentioned, cult musician Rodriguez will play Town Hall on April 10 (sold out) he recently added another NYC show that’s happens two days earlier (4/8) at Beacon Theatre and tickets to that show are also on sale

 Rodriguez In New York: ‘Sugar Man’ Star Pleases Fans At Beacon …

NEW YORK — Sixto Diaz Rodriguez can’t hit the high notes like he used to, but that didn’t matter to his fans. The 70-year-old singer made famous by the Oscar-winning documentary “Searching for Sugar Man” performed

 RCRD RVNG: Rodriguez playing Radio City Music Hall, Town Hall …

Rodriguez playing Radio City Music Hall, Town Hall and Beacon Theatre. There’s no Searching for Sugar-man anymore. With the documentary’s win at last weekend’s Oscars, even my mom knows who Rodriguez is now.


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