While he was long forgotten in the US, Rodriguez was unwittingly achieving mythical status in South Africa. Decades later, he tells Fiona Shepherd about fame after 40 years in the wilderness
IN THE internet age, it seems inconceivable that an artist could be unaware of their own success or that fans would have no idea if their favourite singer was alive or dead. Nowadays you have to work pretty hard to be an enigma and, conversely, even the most neglected musician would struggle to languish in complete obscurity.
Which makes the tale of a Detroit protest singer who scraped a living in the United States while his music was providing hope to tens of thousands in apartheid-era South Africa sound all the more romantic. “It’s been described as a rock’n’roll fairytale,” says the protagonist, one Sixto Diaz Rodriguez.