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.