Rodriguez for Prime Minister | Dan Schaumann

Like most people who have had the pleasure of watching Searching For Sugar Man, the Oscar-winning documentary about American folk/protest musician Sixto Rodriguez, I was left in awe of his astonishing life story. Although he found some brief success in Australia in the mid-70′s, he ultimately left behind a career in music after failing to sell records in his home country; humbly resorting instead to a life of construction work in downtown Detroit to provide for his young family.

Decades later he made the fateful discovery that a few of his records had been smuggled into South Africa during the course of the apartheid government, eventually leading him to not only become a household name throughout the country, but a superstar. His defiant, poetic lyrics on the trials and tribulations of life resonated so well with South Africans that he is often described as the soundtrack to the lives of an entire generation. In terms of popularity, he’s regularly compared with the all-time great musical acts such as Bob Dylan, Elvis and the Rolling Stones.

Trouble was, all through the 70′s and 80′s his South African fans had presumed he was dead, and Rodriguez himself had no knowledge whatsoever of his superstardom taking place on the other side of the world. The true magic of the Sugar Man story shines through once the connections finally come together in the post-apartheid 1990′s and the man who had all but given up hope in the music industry comes to the realisation that his music helped shape a nation.

Read more at Rodriguez for Prime Minister | Dan Schaumann.

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  1. As a South African I applaud your article … as crazy as it seems the way the documentary tells the story is the way that us South Africans lived the story.

    Just about every child from the 70s, 80s, 90s grew up with ‘Sugar Man’ and ‘I Wonder’ … their parents just kept on playing the music.

    I have come across some negative critiques of the story, based on the idea that he did have some recognition in Australia – but the real fairy tale is that us here in South Africa thought he had died and he never knew that he had millions of fans here!

    So those who do have this negative view are simply uninformed and totally out of context … there is only one valid way to view the story – and that is to imagine yourself as a South African discovering what we discovered.

    There is more to the fairy tale though … a young 16 year old Susan Cowsill, of the beautiful Cowsills, of “The Rain, The Park & Other Things” did a cover of “I Think Of You” not knowing who the song writer was.

    Her story of how she discovered who it was earlier in the year will bring yet more tears to eyes … see:

    She will be singing with him on 9th October, and of course one of the songs they will perform is “I Think of You” …

    Sometimes fairy tales are not only true but they continue to be so …


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