If ever you need a reason to justify illegally downloading the latest album by the latest overnight sensation and not feel bad about it well then this is it. I saw Searching for Sugar man last Friday and was brought close to tears by the humanity portrayed by Sixto Rodriguez.
You see, Sixto Rodriguez (Rodriguez from here on out), released a few albums in the early 70’s which crashed and burned instead of propelling him to the stardom that his talent merited.
He was known as the Latino Dylan by some and the part time roofing working and car factory worker by others. However, in South Africa he was the stuff of legend. More popular than Elvis, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones during the time of apartheid and as the film reveals well into the 90’s too.
I first heard his cutting lyrics after I moved to Melbourne in the early 2000’s from Dublin. Why didn’t I know about this fella’? Who was he? Where was he?
Well, ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ will answer all those questions and more besides.
However, to get back to the original point of this post, somebody has been cashing his royalty cheques for 40 odd years now while Rodriguez labours for an hourly wage and lives in a room with a pot belly stove in Detroit, a city not known for it’s tropical winters.
I was truly amazed at his lack of anger at being ripped off by the recording industry, but then again I wasn’t. In truth I was saddened by it all.
Go do yourself a favour and catch this film if it is showing anywhere near you, listen to his albums Cold Fact and Coming From Reality, read his Wikipedia entry or listen to his tunes on YouTube.
I saw Rodriguez in Melbourne a couple of years ago, great gig but all the merchandise had sold out the night before. Shame, I really wanted a T-shirt instead I got a sticker and stuck it on my washing machine which has since left the building.
The only other music documentary to affect me in the same way was Anvil.