The first time that I heard ‘Sugar Man’ I was seven year old, restlessly confined within my great Aunt’s dusty Kenilworth flat. Driven mad by boredom and the fetid smell of old people, and hoping to imitate the cool guy from Limp Bizkit, I decided to try my hand at turntablism. Wiping the dust off an old Technics record player, I slapped on the first LP that I could find. It was Cold Fact by Rodriguez. Fortunately, I was unable to transform the timeless folk-ballad into rap-metal; nor were my unskilled scratching-efforts able to detract from Rodriguez’ hauntingly ethereal voice and impressionable words about “silver magic ships” and “sweet Mary Jane”.
Despite the popularity of Cold Fact amongst South African youth during the sixties and seventies, little is known about the life of Sixto Rodriguez and his ascendance to unrecognized musical greatness. As something of a mythical icon, his story is shrouded in legend and misinformation, and it is precisely this sense of mystery which ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ latches onto.