When the crowd in the arena rose, whistling, cheering and applauding at the appearance of this legend of our youths, it seemed like an historic moment in the making. Barely able to see, Sixto Rodriguez was lead onto the stage by his daughter and an assistant, put on a top hat and began to sing in a remarkably young, robust voice.
Whatever the reason Rodriguez presently is a famed artist and has some of the most loyal and varied fans out there. In marketing terms he has unwittingly created a strong, mysterious brand image and a legacy far beyond his years, Rodriguez is NOT A FAD. Although reasons for this may be hard to pin he remains a remarkable case study for marketers, marketing through non-marketing.
Read more at Rodriguez… A Man on Fire | Maties Marketing244.
When we heard that friend of Ted, Ali B of Air Recordings, had been to the one and only Mabu record store in South Africa, we wanted to hear all about it, and now we want to go too – all donations welcome! read his tale and prepare to be just a little green around the gills…
“In April this year I made a trip to Cape Town, South Africa to attend Afrikaburn, the Burning Man Festival of Africa, which I was introduced to by my friend Tal. Tal’s father Stephen had been involved in the recent Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugarman, about Detroit musician Rodriguez, who had become huge in South Africa during the 70s, while remaining virtually unknown to the rest of the world. So, on arrival in Cape Town, I made sure that I made a trip to Stephen’s record store, Mabu, to see if I could find any of Rodriguez’ music on vinyl.
A few weeks later, when I finally caught up with my friend at Afrikaburn, we were chatting about the recent success of the film and I’d told her that I’d been digging for 45s in her Father’s store. Meanwhile she was busy eyeing up the jacket I was wearing; an 80s silk blazer covered in the most ridiculous design of black and white cats. Being a sucker for anything with animal print on it, Tal suggested that I trade the jacket with her and in return, she would set it up for me to visit her Father’s basement which was apparently full of 45s – my favourite ever kind of vinyl. As much as I love my stupid cat jacket, without hesitation, I agreed.
Read more at Still Searching for Sugarman | Ted Baker Blog.
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.
I’m sitting here wondering why I don’t have any photos of Susan Cowsill.
Even before starting this blog, I often took photos at shows to create lasting memorabilia. I’m not sure if I’ve even seen her since 2009, when this blog started. I know I saw her at least once on her own in New York, after catching her perform numerous times with her old band, the late, lamented Continental Drifters.
But nevermind that.
She and her lusty, raggedly-pushed-to-the-edge vocal style will be back in New York in October, when she opens a Barclays Center show for Rodriguez (aka Detroit-based 1970s singer-songwriter Sixto Díaz Rodríguez), who rediscovered the spotlight via the award-winning 2012 documentary Searching for Sugar Man.
Way back in 1974, 16-year-old Susan was a fledgling solo artist just two years past the collapse of her family band, The Cowsills. She had a record deal and decided to cover a cool song titled “I Think of You.” She probably didn’t know who wrote the song, and never could have imagined the impact it would have on her life four decades later.
It’s not often that an artist plays a sold-out, 5,000 capacity venue at the age of 70. It’s even less common that an artist does this feat having only released two studio albums that, initially, sold poorly.
But, that is what Rodriguez did at Hammersmith Apollo on Friday.
Rodriguez (birth name Sixto Rodriguez) is a Detroit-born singer-songwriter who was thought to be the next Bob Dylan (a frequent comparison), but his albums sold very little on their initial release in the early 70’s.
“I just want to be treated like an ordinary….legend”
With these words, offered in in humility and a little jest, Rodriguez took the stage for the encore of his May 4, 2013 show at the University of Texas’ Frank Irwin Center in Austin, Texas. The show was an embodiment of a dream fulfilled that was brilliantly depicted in the Malik Bendjelloul documentary Searching for Sugar Man.
Malik Bendjelloul is a Swedish filmmaker who was traveling the world looking for an amazing story when he stumbled into South Africa and learned about the legendary Rodriguez. His album “Cold Fact” and its follow up “Coming From Reality” sold over 500,000 albums in the African country. It is credited with helping rally the youth to become anti-establishment and critical of their own government so as to stand and fight against the dark practice of apartheid. To any South African, Rodriguez was, and is, bigger than Elvis or the Beatles.
Read more at ZekeFilm | After the Show: Searching for Sugar Man.
DETROIT, MI – Add another honor to 70-year-old Detroit resident Sixto Rodriguez’s impressive stash.
The star of an Academy Award-winning documentary called “Searching for Sugar Man” will reportedly receive an honorary degree from Wayne State University this spring.
The Detroit News reported the news this week and mentioned Rodriguez will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters from WSU on May 9 at the 10 a.m. commencement ceremony.
Rodriguez is an 1981 graduate of Wayne State who studied philosophy. He lives in the city’s Woodbridge neighborhood near the school’s campus and bought his home for $1 decades ago during a federal land auction.
Documentaries are difficult to get right. They can be overbearing, they can be boring and they can often feel as though you are being force fed the personal feelings of the writers and directors.
Having recently won the Academy Award for Best Documentary, one would expect that Searching for Sugarman (2012) avoids these traps. For the most part it does exactly that.
Searching for Sugarman is a heart warming feel-good story about the re-discovery of 1970’s Folk singer Rodriguez.
In the modern world, celebrity culture has saturated almost every single aspect of our lives. It comes in the forms of the desperation for fame to be found on reality television, glossy gossip magazines and bookstores with entire sections devoted to celebrity hardbacks. In the modern era, a young footballer in his early twenties will already have produced at least one ghost-written autobiography. Z-list actors and one-hit pop stars are more than happy to debase themselves by eating cockroaches in the jungle. Fame has almost overtaken the resulting fortune as the coveted unit of currency and people of all shapes and sizes expressly long for it – or at least their allotted five minutes in the limelight.
In the world of music there are, naturally, alternatives to the pre-fabricated or talent show pop acts that spring up on a regular basis. The world still has many a band who get where they are through long years of graft. But given that current culture is permeated to the highest degree with a desire for fame, the story presented in Malik Bendjelloul’s riveting music documentary, Searching For Sugar Man, is even harder to believe.
From Sweet Songs To Street Songs
From the simplistic, yet instantly recognisable bass guitar intro of I Wonder, to the last fading echoes of Forget It, this was a show that enthralled everyone from the die-hard old fans with their balding heads and beer paunches to the new virgin devotees.
From sweet songs to street songs,
from bitter to beautiful,
from minor keys to metal mayhem,
from tear-jerker to tear-it-up,
from disgusting songs to rock anthems…this was truly a magic show of vast proportions.
Rodriguez has not released new material in over 25 years, he has no chart-topping singles, yet he opens to a standing ovation – and everybody sings along to all the songs.
Colin Taylor from KFM radio opened the show by shouting with great enthusiasm:
“Cape Town, put your hands together and welcome a true legend on stage – Rodriguez!”
Reuben Samuels started a slow drum beat and when Graeme Currie introduced that classic bass line (de-de de-de de-dum) the crowd went wild in instant recognition and when The Man slipped quietly onto the stage, the Velodrome stood up in adoration for this long-lost legend. I Wonder was wonderful and after the song, Rodriguez just stood and stared at the audience in awe.
Only Good For Conversation was done hard and heavy with great guitar from Willem Möller.
“..you’re so proper and so cute” sang Rodriguez with a smile in his voice.
Can’t Get Away was superb and when he started to sing the second verse again by mistake, the band supported him and the audience forgave him.
All the favourites followed with the arrangements staying very close to the originals and the crowd hanging on every word. Tonia Selley from The Pressure Cookies and Big Sky provided superb backing vocals throughout.
A highlight was the solo rendition of “A Most Disgusting Song” sung with great humour. “There’s someone here who’s almost a virgin I’m told” was met with much laughter.
And when he sang “…your government will provide the shrugs” a responsive chord was hit, even though this song was written in 1970!
Rodriguez doesn’t say much, he lets his music and words speak to us, but he did give us one message:
“I want to wish you the best of luck
in everything you do,
you’re gonna do it,
you’re gonna solve it,
you’re gonna heal ’em,
you’re gonna do it”
– perceptive and profound words from this poet and prophet.
And then into an absolutely incredible blues-rock version of Climb Up On My Music. Willem Möller burnt up his fretboard with a classic rock guitar solo and Russel Taylor played a jazzy-blues keyboard solo which left us breathless.
Rodriguez slipped away as the band ended the song, but soon returned to perform a 3-song encore starting with Sugar Man, then Establishment Blues and ending with the perfect show-closer Forget It with those poignant words “Thanks for your time“.
“Thank you, Cape Town” sang Rodriguez.
No, thank YOU, Rodriguez – the mystery and myth may be gone, but the music and memories will live forever and the magic of that night will stay with us always.
— Brian Currin
It’s hard to type when one’s feet refuse to stay on the ground. I still keep floating around from the euphoria of seeing two awe-inspiring concerts on the weekend, both by the same ou. I’m talking of course about Rodriguez who finally performed to his many South African fans and it’s difficult to decide who was more overawed by the confrontation.
Rodriguez had not performed since 1981 and even those concerts, in Australasia, did not nearly attract the same fans as the SA concerts, so, when Rodriguez walked out onto the stage at the Bellville Velodrome, he almost staggered backwards from the roar and vibes that poured onto the stage from the first night crowd. The performance that Friday night was fine if a little patchy but no-one seemed to notice. Rodriguez forgot the odd line and on a few occasions played at a different tempo to the band, who very professionally managed to plaster over these musical cracks.
The second concert on Saturday night, however, was wonderful. A far larger crowd arrived due obviously to a strong local word-of-mouth promotion. Rodriguez and his band were prepared and well-rehearsed and once again the crowd maintained a remarkable level of energetic approval and non-stop singing to each and every song. All the age groups were represented, from 60-year-olds to young children, all caught up in the magic of the moment, signifying indisputably that Rodriguez’s music has passed the test of time and is not simply a ’70s phenomenon.
The response to these concerts was repeated throughout the tour. The two concerts in Johannesburg at the Standard Bank Arena were sold out and generated the same fanatical and ecstatic reaction. One of the Durban dates was replaced by a show at the Carousel complex outside Pretoria and that too was full. There is a strong feeling that this remarkable tour could be the spark that hopefully kick-starts Rodriguez’s long overdue world-wide recognition. Through the Internet, his fans all over the world have been closely monitoring these events in South Africa and requests for tours have been received from as far afield as Australia, Canada, England and the USA. Some United States newspapers have already started making enquiries, sensing a story in all of this!
Rodriguez is a humble, intelligent and sensitive man who deserves all the recognition he will no doubt be receiving. After both the Cape Town shows, he mingled with the assorted press and fans who had lingered backstage to meet him and shook hands, hugged, spoke to and signed autographs for each and every one of them until he was satisfied that no-one had been overlooked. As they say in Yiddish, he is really a mensch!
I am still quite overwhelmed by the whole Rodriguez situation. We all believed he was dead but he most certainly wasn’t and here he was recreating his music that meant so much to so many people for so long. I will always remember singing along to all those songs that are so deeply embedded in my/our memories, but three special memories stand out for me. The first was seeing Rodriguez’s two daughters, Eva and Regan, sitting at the foot of the stage watching their father perform. Eva was a teenager when Rodriguez toured Australia and Regan was much younger. The pride and joy that radiated in their faces was quite beautiful.
The second was the guitar solo by Willem Möller that turned the band’s jammed improvised version of ‘Climb Up On My Music’ into the high(est)light of a concert packed with highlights. The third image I have is of Arno Carstens, lead singer with the Springbok Nude Girls, standing transfixed at the base of the stage watching Rodriguez perform. On his T-shirt was the simple yet ironic slogan that seemed to sum up the whole evening. It read: “Dead people are cool!”
— Stephen “Sugar” Segerman
Sugar Man, Afrikaners’ musical healer and voice.
Afrikaans youth who felt they were not part of the apartheid system responded to the anti-establishment consciousness Rodriguez expressed, which laid the ground for anti-apartheid rock of the 1980s.
“Sugar Man”, the story of a forgotten singer, won the best documentary at the Oscars this week.
Sixto Rodriguez made two records in the early 1970s, but it never took off in America.
Unbeknown to him, it became very popular in South Africa.
Searching for Sugar Man, is the story of two South Africans and their search for this elusive singer.
Big is the surprise when we see a clip showing our own collections in the SABC Record Library and how censorship made it impossible for it to be played during the Apartheid years.
The documentary isn’t only about one man’s humility and passion to do that which he loved and provide a decent living for his family. It’s also a story about dedication and commitment; Sugar worked tirelessly on the Rodriguez website and to connect the singer with South Africa. He and Brian Currin did so much for South African music at the time, setting up the SA Rock Digest that took advantage of the internet in the “early days.” Journalist Craig Bartholomew Strydom, who was doing his own searching too, also added his persistence and tenacity to the story. All essential elements of this feel-good and inspiring story. Topping it off, is the Swedish director himself, who worked for many years on the project, and didn’t even have the funds to finish it so did the music and graphics himself. He just kept going, believing and continuing when he could. For that, this is a story the world deserves to see over and over. With or without an Oscar win.