Back in the late ’60s, the singer-songwriter Rodriguez was slated to be Detroit’s own Bob Dylan. Although he made a couple of terrific records, they only made it as far as the cut-out bin in the United States. Over time, however, his music caught fire in South Africa, and he became revered from afar, influencing countless revolutionary punk and protest singers through the years.
Now, this bumpy road to late-life stardom is the subject of the new documentary Searching for Sugarman, named after one of his signature songs. Rodriguez was in Minneapolis recently to promote the film, and right when Gimme Noise met him in the lobby of the W Hotel last month, it was clear this wouldn’t be the typical interview.