Dead Men Don’t Tour, Rodriguez in South Africa 1998 (TV Documentary)

This documentary was shown on South African Television this week, 20 years ago.

Footage from this documentary features strongly in the Oscar winning film, Searching For Sugar Man.

Dead Men Don’t Tour

Directed by Tonia Selley and featuring Big Sky, “Dead Men Don’t Tour”, was first broadcast on SABC 3 at 9.30pm on the 5th July 2001 just after ‘Ripley’s Believe Or Not’.

This film features wonderful concert footage, backstage antics, interviews with Craig Bartholomew Strydom and Stephen “Sugar” Segerman, Rodriguez and his family, the promoters, the fans and the musicians.

All live footage was filmed at the concerts in Pretoria, Durban and the Blues Room in Johannesburg.

The soundtrack for the documentary is based on the Live Fact CD with video collages from the various performances. The concert footage is linked with interviews, backstage antics, rehearsals, etc.

  1. I Wonder
  2. Inner City Blues
  3. Jane S. Piddy
  4. Sugar Man
  5. A Most Disgusting Song
  6. Like Janis
  7. Establishment Blues
  8. Climb Up On My Music
  9. I Wonder by Generation EXT (filmed during the studio recording)
  10. Forget It

Produced by Incha Productions
Executive producers: Georgina Parkin and Charles Watson
Directed by Tonia Selley
Edited by Cathy Winter

March 1998 (left-to-right): Willem Moller, Sixto Rodriguez, Tonia Selley, Steve Louw, Graeme Currie, Reuben Samuels, kneeling front: Russel Taylor
March 1998 (left-to-right): Willem Moller, Sixto Rodriguez, Tonia Selley, Steve Louw, Graeme Currie, Reuben Samuels, kneeling front: Russel Taylor


Steve Louw

April 6 2021, Capetown, SA: Today, much-revered South African singer/songwriter/guitarist, Steve Louw releases, “Crazy River,” the first track from his forthcoming album, Headlight Dreams to be released in May via BFD/The Orchard. 

Steve Louw - Headlight Dreams

The song itself is an upbeat, transcendent ode to the beauty of a river, its timelessness against the impermanent world it runs through, and the aspects of ourselves that long to be just like it. Louw, with a rich lifetime of music making under the belt, gets it and embraces the moment. The video puts him occasionally front and center, singing and playing with millennial enthusiasm, yet with the confidence that experience brings, his image juxtaposed with footage and stills of lives lived large against a backdrop of mountains, valleys and rapids. So lush is it all that one could just jump at the screen before getting a hold of themselves. 

Says Louw of the song, “I once took a long canoe trip down the Colorado River, through the Grand Canyon and out again. It was a very spacy spiritual place and it felt like I was on a journey to the middle of the earth. I wrote this after the trip. On one level the song is about the river trip and the journey deep inside the raw power and beating heart of nature, but it also reflects on time, our time on Earth, how we experience it, and how the bonds of deep personal relationships with our fellow travellers nurture our souls. I played the acoustic guitar using a few African-style riffs and the band picked up on that feel. Guitarist Rob McNelley contributed beautiful slide guitar.” 

From the moment he jumped into the South African music scene in the eighties, he was swimming with the best of em. At that time, he fronted All Night Radio, a group that would release two hit records, The Heart’s the Best Part (1984) and The Killing Floor (1986) and establish Louw as a force to be reckoned with on the SA music scene. But in 1990, Steve achieved legendary status after forming Big Sky, who won the honour of Best South African Rock Act in 1996 and were subsequently accepted into the SA Rock Hall of Fame. In 1998, they supported Rodriguez on tour and were incidentally featured in the film, Searching For Sugar Man.

In 2003, Steve collaborated with Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), Anastacia and Brian May (Queen) on a song called “Amandla” that was performed for the Madiba’s 46664 concert in Cape Town by Beyonce and Bono.

He also played and recorded with the aforementioned Rodriguez, Blondie Chaplin and Kevin Shirley, who produced Headlight Dreams. The new album also features a guest spot from heroic guitarist Joe Bonamassa on “Wind In Your Hair.”

Stream/download “Crazy River” here: 

Pre-save/pre-add/pre-order Headlight Dreams here: 

For more information, please visit:

Twitter @stevelouwmusic 

And for any media inquiries, please contact: 

Martin Myers / Jason Curtis 

083 448 4475 / 082 555 5993

Steve Louw

Royalties for Rodriguez

Hello! I might be one of the last people in the U.S. to see the Searching For Sugar Man documentary – I was so moved, laughing and crying with my friend who checked it out from the public library to share with me.

My friend also had his Cold Fact CD, which I am about to rip into my iTunes Library… on the condition that I can pay Sixto Rodriguez directly. After watching the documentary and reading a few articles, I have zero confidence that purchasing any of his albums new results in revenue or royalties ever actually reach Rodriguez. So, can someone direct if he accepts Venmo or PayPal, or maybe Patreon. I poked around on this website and on the Rodriguez YouTube channel – where found a Facebook comment feed with comments similar to my feelings about buying Rodriguez albums and merch, worrying about others profiting, but him never seeing a cent. Most of us were probably not surprised about the mercenary nature of the music industry already, but Rodriguez’ story has got to be the worst of the worst as far as exploitation and fraud. Considering what Rodriguez has already been through, it seems like insult to injury to enthusiastically purchase his albums now, only to have it again get sucked down some hole… right into someone else’s pocket.

If anyone can direct me to a legit avenue to purchase his albums and/or make a direct payment to him, please let me know! I will keep looking until I find a way.


Fantastic Story

Hi there.
My wife and I have just seen the documentary about this fantastic story. It’s absolutely incredible, we sat on our settee with tears in our eyes 


The success that you received was thoroughly deserved, well done to everyone concerned…
Long may this story continue..
Take care and good luck from Paris, France

Steve n Carmen Smith

A letter I wrote Sugarman tonite | Danny

I am Danny Tyrell a local Detroit musician.
When you were making the movie I was working with Dennis Coffey as keyboardist. I recall Dennis and Mike meeting in the breaks of a gig
And Dennis briefly mentioned the project.
As years went on I left the group and
Went on to develop a music program in 4 rehab centers helping people recover from drugs.
One day early on I played your movie at an evening session and the response was magical.
A few guys weeped. Great discussion ensued.
Over time I believe I showed your story 100’s of times. Frequently we would split it into two nights.
The patients write success stories and write to you. Dennis agreed to deliver these to you when he joined your tour at one time. I could not get clearance to release them. It did not happen.
I always wanted to let you know how your story affected others giving them hope. There IS a part 2. A few years I had health challenges
And found your movie once again as inspiration to go on.
You have been a blessing to many. I can testify to that. Thank you for the generous story

Love and Light

Danny Tyrell

Thank You For The Music

Just wish to say thank you for your music. I have been an instant fan the minute I saw Searching for Sugarman. I wonder (no pun intended) how you are these days and what you think about the times we are living in now. I hope you are writing new songs because I feel your voice and music could be a big help in the ongoing press for change in the USA and the rest of the west.
Hope to see one of your concerts this year. Peace to you and your family.
Love from Canada. ✌

<Glen Hosking>


A Spoonful Of Sugar And James returns to the Alma Café in Mowbray on Friday Sept 27th at 8pm

Sugar and James

A Spoonful Of Sugar And James returns to the  Alma Café in Mowbray on Friday Sept 27th at 8pm. Booking is as always absolutely essential by phone on  021 685 7377. 50 seats only.

This innovative, informative and slightly irreverent performance sees the acclaimed South African singer-songwriter, James Stewart, joining Stephen “Sugar” Segerman, the man behind the rediscovery of Sixto Rodriguez and the Oscar-winning documentary, “Searching For Sugar Man”, to share their respective stories and play and sing some great Rodriguez and South African classic songs.

Rodriguez’s Forgotten ‘70s Albums Make Their Vinyl Return | Forbes

It’s one of pop music’s unlikeliest and greatest comeback stories ever: a Mexican-American singer-songwriter from Detroit named Sixto Rodriguez recorded two albums of psychedelic folk rock in the early 1970s that went nowhere in the U.S. upon their initial release; afterwards, he worked in construction. Unbeknownst to him, his music was a huge hit in South Africa, where his unsentimental and gritty outsider lyrics resonated with young liberal Afrikaners during that country’s policy of apartheid. Rodriguez’s impact on South Africa and his subsequent reemergence in the late 1990s–thanks to the efforts of some dedicated fans–formed the crux of the 2012 Academy Award-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man, directed by the late Malik Bendjelloul. Due to the success of the film, Rodriguez’s music has experienced belated and renewed attention.

Read more at:

Detroit Musicians Remake ‘I Wonder’


Costa Dedes has been producing music for about 10 years in Detroit. After watching the ‘Searching For Sugar Man’ documentary, he was inspired to do a Sixto Rodriguez tune with an all-star line-up of Detroit artists…..


JRae with some female vocals (she plays The Old Miami where an ominous “Sixto for Mayor” poster hangs!).

Pato Margetic, the local Argentine-born Detroit singer, singing Sixto’s parts.

And Jerome Joyce, the long-time Detroit veteran MC now based in LA.

Give it a listen here:


A Spoonful of Sugar and James at The Glencairn Hotel, 31st August 2019

Sugar &amp; James Glencairn

A Spoonful Of Sugar & James
The Glencairn Hotel
31 August

It’s been called “The Greatest Music story of the past 50 years”, the story of this wonderful and talented musician and his journey to his well-deserved and long-overdue fame. But enough about James Stewart 😉 In this innovative, informative and slightly irreverent show, James joins Stephen “Sugar” Segerman, the person behind the rediscovery of Sixto Rodriguez and “Searching For Sugar Man”, the Oscar-winning documentary about the whole story, as the two music journeymen tell their respective tales and play and sing some of the most seminal Rodriguez and South African classic songs. Willem Moller will add his special soulful flair on guitar.

Book tickets here

What Likely Happened to the Royalties for “Sugar Man”?

A tale of record business chicanery

The 2012 movie “Searching for Sugar Man” belatedly made a minor star out of the musician Sixto Diaz Rodriguez. Its basic premise is that somehow his records became hits in South Africa but everybody thought he was dead, so they went looking for him. In fact, he was alive all along in Detroit, pursuing a modest career as a day laborer. Rodriguez was signed to the independent label Sussex Records. One of the dramatic highlights of the film is when the interviewer confronts Clarence Avant, the label’s owner. “What happened to all of the royalties?” the interviewer asks. Avant becomes visibly agitated and is unable to offer a satisfactory answer to the question. In fact the mystery of the missing royalties is not that difficult to assess. While it remains hypothetical, this note sets forth the most likely scenario.

Rodriguez signed a contract with Sussex obligating him to deliver an album, with options for more. At least one of those options was exercised, because the label put out two of them: “Cold Fact” in 1970 and “Coming from Reality” in 1971. Rodriguez evidently was recording a third album when Sussex dropped him, meaning that it exercised an option but then decided not to proceed. As was standard at the time, the contract paid Rodriguez a royalty rate on net sales of records equal to 10% of the wholesale price, with deductions for packaging, free goods, discounts and other similar sales inducements. Sussex paid for all recording costs, including studio, side musicians and producer. Those costs were “recoupable,” meaning they could be recovered by the label at the contractual rate, before any further royalties actually became payable to Rodriguez.

Being an independent label, Sussex was reliant upon an unreliable network of independent record distributors to bring its records to market. This was a day and age long before the advent of internet streaming, digital downloads, even the CD. Records were physical goods made out of vinyl. Tower Records just was starting. While there were some small chains like Discount Records and Wherehouse, there were no major record store chains like Musicland or Transworld (there aren’t any now, either). Most stores bought either directly from a distributor or through intermediaries known as one-stops, i.e. the small store made “one stop” to buy all of its product requirements. Record distribution was doled out by territory, with each distributor jealously guarding its turf. There were plenty of inside deals, kick-backs, payola, hookers and color TV sets.

A label’s ability to get its records distributed, and get paid, depended solely on the clout of its artist roster. The label also needed a continuous flow of product so the distributor was incentivized to pay, because it knew the label would have more records coming later. At the time, Warner Bros. Records was independently distributed — this was before the creation of WEA Corp. — and it got paid. But this was the exception, not the rule. A small independent label with a one-off record didn’t stand a chance. If it got paid at all, it got paid very little. Furthermore, it had no effective mechanism to remedy any payments deficiency. It was inexpensive, relationship-disruptive and most likely personally dangerous to pursue any shortfall.

Sussex’ position wasn’t helped by the fact it went out of business in 1975. When a label goes out of business it’s a green light for distributors to embargo any and all cash. In fairness to distributors, that’s also the signal for retailers to return any unsold quantities of records back to the distributor, knowing the label will not be in a position to market or promote them further. The distributor then will have to credit the retailers for the amount of the returns. If the distributor already has paid the label, then returns credits will be at the distributor’s expense, further disincentivizing the distributor to make any further payments.

Sussex was in a particularly vulnerable position because it was sub-distributed by another independent label, Buddah Records. Buddah either advanced funds to Sussex on a line-of-credit basis, or paid Sussex an overall label advance, which Avant retained without parsing it out to any of the label’s artists. Buddah also charged Sussex a high distribution fee–greater than its actual costs to distribute. It also made a margin on manufacturing costs. Avant was in a condition of subservience to Buddah and had to beseech it for money on a regular basis, much of which became unaccountable. Buddah got to recoup these amounts before it had to pay anything further to Sussex.

Compounding the problem, Buddah treated Sussex as a single accounting unit, that is, it cross-collateralized sales by all of the Sussex Records artists before it was obligated to pay anything to Sussex, even if funds advanced had been recouped. So, if Sussex had one hit artist but nine failures, then Sussex never would see any money on account of the one hit artist, because its net sales were absorbed by the other artists’ losses. This created tremendous cash flow issues at Sussex, which didn’t have enough resources to adequately market, advertise and promote its artists–even less so one like Rodriguez. “Sugar Man” is a catchy tune but it was off-template for the times. While I don’t doubt there was plenty of chicanery at the Sussex level, one need not necessarily hypothesize this was so, because Sussex wasn’t getting paid, Rodriguez wasn’t selling, and there’s nothing either Sussex or Buddah could do to drive Rodriguez records through the system. Rodriguez sold in miniscule quantities, far less than required to recoup the amount of recording costs Sussex incurred for the two records and some sessions for the third.

The situation internationally was not much better. This was a day and age long before the multimedia international conglomerates that now dominate the music business, such as it is. Labels licensed out rights on a haphazard, patchwork quilt-like, territory-by-territory basis. As part of its distribution deal, Sussex assigned all of its international rights to Buddah. Buddah in turn shopped all of its international rights (including the Sussex rights) around the world. For a modest advance, it licensed all of its albums for the entire continent of Africa to a company in South Africa. Buddah kept the entire amount of the advance without paying any of it to Sussex.

Africa was not considered a major territory. Many labels were unsuccessful in licensing any rights there at all. If a record became popular, record companies in South Africa simply would start printing copies of the record. Who was going to stop them? Surprisingly, though, the South African licensee did a good job in stimulating local enthusiasm for Rodriguez. Selling records is like blowing on an ember; you hope it conflagrates into a fire, but more frequently it just goes out. Through whatever combination of cultural taste, the tempo of the times, good marketing and promotion, some disc jockey liking it or other mysterious concatenation of circumstances, people started buying it. Buddah’s contract with its South African licensee obligated the licensee to pay royalties to Buddah after the amount of the advance was recouped. The South African company, however, never made any such payments. There’s no business reason why it should. What was Buddah going to do, go down to South Africa to sue it?

Even if money trickled from South Africa to Buddah to Sussex, Rodriguez’ contract with Sussex obligated it only to pay him half of the domestic royalty rate. No such payments ever were made or received. So, as a practical matter, there was no way to extract foreign royalties either. The South African company even put together a compilation album, “At His Best,” combining masters from Rodriguez’ two released albums with some of those from the unreleased third album. No payments were made to Buddah on account of that record. Since it had continent-wide rights, the South African licensee may have sub-licensed the Rodriguez masters to other companies in Africa. It also may have sold finished goods records to distributors in other territories, such as Australia. Sensing action on the project in much the same way sharks sense blood in the water, other companies throughout Africa, Australia and Southeast Asia started manufacturing and distributing records, even though they didn’t have a license. What was there to stop them?

The situation for music publishing should have been somewhat brighter, but it wasn’t. Rodriguez’ musical compositions were published by Interior Music. Under a typical music publishing deal for the time, music publishing revenue was split 50/50 between the songwriter and the music publisher. If there was a composer and a lyricist, they would share the songwriter’s 50% equally, i.e. 25% each. The two primary sources of music publishing revenue were mechanical royalties on account of sales of records, payable by the record company to the music publisher; and performance royalties, payable by radio stations to the publisher’s affiliated performing rights organization on account of radio airplay. Interior Music appears to have been owned by or affiliated with Avant. Mechanical royalties are set by statute. At the time, the statutory royalty rate was $.02 per song (two cents per song). A record with 10 songs on it therefore would have attracted a mechanical royalty rate of $.20, payable by the record company to the music publisher. Rodriguez’ record contract, however, may have provided that compositions that he owned or controlled would be licensed at a rate lower than the statutory rate. It also may have been cross-collateralized with his music publishing contract, i.e. music publishing royalties would not be payable until recording costs and other record company advanced costs had been recouped. Even if not, Sussex never paid mechanical royalties to Interior. Why should it? Both were owned by the same person, i.e., Avant. Interior never paid Rodriguez his share. Interior was affiliated with BMI. Rodriguez should have been able to collect performance royalties directly from BMI. However, due to limited radio airplay, because of limited promotion, because of limited money, no performance royalties were reported or collected.

The situation with foreign music publishing royalties is more complicated. Rodriguez should have been able to collect them. However most likely they never were paid by the applicable record company licensee, sub-licensee or whatever company simply undertook to release records on its own account.

In conclusion, while there may have been duplicity at Sussex, most likely the reason why Rodriguez never got paid royalties is because there were no royalties to be paid. Avant’s defensive reaction to the question about royalties in “Searching for Sugarman” suggests that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If the scenario I’ve outlined is even remotely accurate, a better discursive strategy for him to employ would have been to look the interviewer straight in the eyes and tell him just that.

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