I first heard about the singer-songwriter Sixto Diaz Rodriguez when a film charting his life, Searching For Sugar Man, was in the news earlier this year. The BBC called him “the musician who never knew he was famous,” and I was fascinated by his story. Rodriguez released a couple of albums in the States in the late 60s, but for one reason or another they didn’t take off – despite his sound being at first hearing very much a cross between Bob Dylan and Donovan.
He disappeared into obscurity, working in demolition and gaining a degree in philosophy in his hometown of Detroit. Meanwhile, unknown to him, his albums were gaining in popularity in South Africa, where they took on something of a cult status. Rodriguez was oblivious to his overseas fame.
The rumours in South Africa were that Rodriguez had died many years ago, but two devoted fans were determined to find out if there was any truth to the rumours – and finally managed to track him down in the 90s, which is the subject of Searching For Sugar Man. With the release of the film this year, Rodriguez has been touring worldwide and I was lucky enough to catch him at the Royal Festival Hall, London.