Sixto Rodriguez, generally known as just Rodriguez, was a Detroit-based folk singer who recorded only two albums (1970’s Cold Fact and 1971’s Coming from Reality), both of which under-performed and led to him being dropped from his label. Truly his was the sort of career that longed for the semi-obscurity of someone like Nick Drake, though he didn’t even have posthumous rediscovery going for him since no one seemed to know what happened to him. Rodriguez seemed to disappear, yet another also-ran who tried to become the next Bob Dylan and missed. At least, that was the story as far as America was concerned, but Rodriguez’s story did not end with America.
Somehow, copies of Cold Fact and Coming from Reality made their way to South Africa, where they quickly became an underground sensation. Through importing and bootlegging, the albums became ubiquitous, and Rodriguez’s music was as popular in South Africa as that of The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. Both albums were re-issued numerous times, selling hundreds of thousands of copies. It took the notion of being “big in Japan” to crazy new heights, especially since, owing to the cultural embargo imposed on the country during Apartheid, people in South Africa didn’t realise that someone held up as something of an iconic figure was completely unknown in his native America.