It’s a fascinating story. It really is. It’s Detroit. It’s the late 1960’s. A shy, young Mexican-American singer/songwriter is discovered by a couple of local Detroit record producers. They believe they’ve found someone special, the next Dylan perhaps. His name is Rodriguez. In 1970 they record an album but it doesn’t sell well, not well at all. Two years later, Rodriguez tries again. He releases a second album, but again minimal sales — well minimal sales in America that is. In another part of the world however, Rodriguez is becoming a star. In South Africa his anti-establishment themed music has become the soundtrack of the young white liberal youth movement against Apartheid. In South Africa, Rodriguez is huge. In South Africa, Rodriguez is as big as The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. Problem is, is that Rodriguez knows nothing of this popularity. It was the 70’s and there were trade embargoes in place against South Africa. South Africa was not included in global commerce. So, believing that perhaps his musical career was over, Rodriguez got on with his life. For the next 30 years or so, Rodriguez worked as a manual labourer, raised a family and even earned a college degree. Meanwhile in South Africa, the political climate had changed, embargoes had been lifted and some people began to wonder what had become of Rodriguez. After all, in South Africa, he was still an icon. There were rumours and reports that he was dead, that he had committed suicide on stage. These rumours of his demise inspired a couple of fans to set out on a journey to discover the real facts. A documentary entitled Searching For Sugar Man is the result of this journey. Searching For Sugar Man has won numerous 2012 Film Festival awards and has been nominated for an Academy Award (and it should be out on DVD soon). It’s a fascinating story. It really is.
See Rodriguez perform on the Late Show With David Letterman here.