In September 2015, ‘Sugar Man: The Life, Death and Resurrection of Sixto Rodriguez’ by Craig Bartholomew-Strydom and Stephen Segerman, was published by Penguin in response to the demand for more information behind the Oscar-winning documentary ‘Searching For Sugar Man’ by Malik Bendjelloul.
For all those fans of Rodriguez and his music and the amazing story behind the search and his re-emergence and current world-wide fame, here are some shops on the web where one can buy the eBook version of this book online:
I saw “Searching for Sugarman” in 2013, the year it won the Oscar, and immediately afterwards searched for concert dates. At that time the only tours I could find were in South Africa. I started thinking about Rodriguez today — which turns out to be his birthday! — and again looked for concerts near me. From what I’ve been able to find out, he has, in the past, performed in the U.S., but it appears that he has not performed this year and has nothing scheduled. Will he be touring in the U.S. again anytime in the next few years or has he stopped touring?
DEAR RODRIGUEZ, As I love you and your great inspiring music, my question is: will you still be giving a live performance / a concert anytime in the near future??? Any chance of seeing you live somewhere in Europe?? Wishing you a most happy, healthy and joyful 80th birthday, all the very best from Germany.
Please join us in wishing Rodriguez a Happy Birthday on the occasion of his 80th Birthday which falls on July 10th!
On behalf of all of us at the official Rodriguez website, Sugarman.org, we send our warmest wishes to Rodriguez and we hope that he has a wonderful day celebrating with his family, and that he is blessed with a Peaceful, Joyful, and Healthy year!
For all of his fans around the world, who would like to join us in sending warm wishes to Rodriguez, please feel free to do so by posting your messages here: https://www.facebook.com/SugarMan.org/
Sending Our Warmest Regards and Greeting to you all, from South Africa!
Just happened to watch Searching for Sugar Man, not only one fascinating back story but what an amazing musician. I’m 69 years old so this is my music. I feel somewhat cheated never being exposed to his gifts until now. Rodriguez has been in Detroit and I’m in southwest Michigan, so close. Please schedule a concert soon. There’s a small, beautiful little theater called The Acorn in Three Oaks, Michigan, not too far away, wink wink.
After returning last night to my home base, 15 km outside Polokwane in the Limpopo province, I will admit I am still getting to grips with all the happenings from the last week. A few weeks prior I received a message from my now close friend, Johann Latsky. He said they are organising a music festival near Caledon, Western Cape, and asked me if I would like to join. There was no way I was going to miss this opportunity even though it was about 1700km away. The ONE was an exclusive state-of-the-art venue, situated on Shaw’s Pass, between Hermanus and Caledon. With 22 of South Africa’s hottest bands and luxury glamping facilities, this was truly Heaven on Earth and a once in a lifetime opportunity.
I left Polokwane, 14h00 in the afternoon, and after a quick overnight pit stop in Pretoria, I hit O.R. Tambo International Airport, early the next morning. I was graciously flown by Lift Airlines, who were also one of the sponsors for the festival. May I say that Lift Airlines are really a jewel amongst all the other local airlines? They even gave us free wine and chocolate coated, gluten free, vegan, roasted chick peas! Sitting on the plane, waiting for our departure, I saw the crew loading two guitar cases and a bag with drum-symbols. It was immediately clear that I was being accompanied by a band on my flight and I made it a mission to try and identify them. My son recently got into the “Where’s Wally” books and I think all the practice finding Wally, helped me. I had no problem identifying the guys from the band Shadowclub, as well as Mariska Geyer, road manager for the band Prime Circle. They were accompanied by the members from Southern Gypsy Queen and Andre Kriel, guitar player for the Black Cat Bones. On arrival in Cape Town, I had a quick chat with the band and then met up with my long-time friend, Leon Nieuwoudt. We were on our way to the One Mad Tea Party Festival.
Naturally we had to stop on-route at a few places for some chit chats with the locals and a few glasses of wine. However, we didn’t waste too much time because Anton Goosen was opening the stage and we had to be there. On arrival at the venue, we were friendlily greeted and shown towards our tents. Glamping was only a term I have heard before, but it became more meaningful to me once we got to our tents. The tents had a carpet, two beds, a power point with bed lamps and of course, electric blankets. Happiness!
We got our stuff together and decided to hit the stage. On our way we witnessed the most beautiful sunset and had to stop for a few selfies. The venue was amazing, with a fully stocked bar and seating surrounded by artificial grass. The atmosphere was one of excitement, filled with music lovers who knew what it was all about. Once Anton arrived, I was blown away by the sound and lighting. It was a proper job and way beyond what was necessary, but is it ever enough?
Anton Goosen is a legend in the music industry. Most people still remember his Afrikaans hits from the 80’s and he didn’t disappoint. He did a couple of his hit songs but his stories were the highlight for me. After more than 30 years of performing there were loads of snippets he could share with the crowd and we loved it. He captivated his audience and I was fully mesmerised. Afterwards, we had a quick conversation and hurried back to the stage for the next band. The Southern Gypsy Queen’s performance was talked about throughout the weekend. They went on stage without any flair or pretention but delivered something I will remember for a long time. It was pure passion and fun. They were happy to be there and we all agreed. With Andre Kriel from the Black Cat Bones standing in on guitar, they kicked it off with personality and energy and the crowd eagerly responded to their energy. They prepared a special ‘Rock n Roll’ set and we were jumping around with every song. I realised after their second song, that we were witnessing something special. It was only the second band out of 22 and I was already blown away.
After a quick photo back stage and a friendly introduction, we ran back to the stage to watch one of my favourite musicians, Dan Patlansky. A friend of mine who spent some time with Anton Goosen backstage, while Southern Gypsy Queen was playing, told me later that Dan was chilling next to them and while the band was playing, he was warming up for his set by working out their songs. He was improvising, but it took him no effort to play along with them, even though he had probably never heard them before. Dan is a musical genius unlike any musician I have seen before. His reputation stretches far and wide and I wasn’t surprised to see the guys from Spoegwolf standing close to the stage when I got there, waiting for Dan to appear. He was brilliant. Throughout his show I could see he was mimicking the music in his head. While his lips moved and the veins in his neck popped, eyes closed, he was a player possessed. I don’t think any review will ever do his shows justice. Dan Patlansky is one of a kind. I am honoured and blessed to have witnessed this maestro in his natural habitat. The thing about him is not just his music it’s his attitude as well. Just a short conversation with him will make you feel like you are talking to your best friend. His people skills are as natural as his guitar playing.
Dan was followed by one of the hottest South African bands at the moment. Every Spoegwolf show will be familiar if you have seen it before but there is something unique about them. Wherever they go, the crowd always enthusiastically sings along to their songs. Danie du Toit has a unique energy and I found myself smiling as they performed their hits. It’s this familiarity that brings people together. The four members of Spoegwolf are a brotherhood. No matter where or when they perform, they have a fan base. They are rightfully the current Face of Alternative Afrikaans Music, as someone accurately commented. I tried to grab another photo with the guys after the show, to add to my already growing collection; however they quickly disappeared into the night. Later I realised they had another show the following night in Pretoria.
The first night ended with something unique and I will admit it took me a few minutes to adjust to the change of pace and vibe. Pascal and Pearce have for a long time been legends in the dance scene. My buddy Leon knew Pascal and therefore they were on our list of artists we really wanted to see. Their show reminded me of my clubbing days and being a dance DJ myself when I was younger. They had it all! It was a high energy light show with a lot of personality, transforming my nostalgia into something recent and very enjoyable. After a quick photo and short conversation, I couldn’t help but wonder what type of adventures they’ve been on and what their day to day lives must be like.
We decided to end our night in the VIP lounge but quickly realised it would be better to save our energy for the next morning. Our warm beds awaited us and I had a good night’s rest with my warm blanket set on a toasty but still mild, no 2 setting. I was exhausted.
We woke up quite early the next morning, according to the Cape standards. We grabbed our towels and headed to the showers. The portable showers were clean and had enough hot water for me to sing a few of my favourite Rock songs. Leon and I drank our daily vitamins, specially designed for men our age, and then we decided to take a walk on the 5km trail. Leon wore his Ice-Cream coloured Tekkies, he called the colour ‘mint’, but this is my story. I am not sure we did the whole 5km but we ended up in a field somewhere with another amazing view of the valley. The Blue Mountains in the distance reminded me of something ancient and unchanging. We tend to fight our present circumstances at times, worrying about our day to day existence, but still the mountains tell tales of survival and durability. I am getting side-tracked; let’s get back to the festival. Needless to say the view we saw that morning was inspirational.
I really enjoyed the band SNAFU, not simply because of their weird name which I only later realised meant “a confused or chaotic state”, but also because of their weird hats and funky Afrikaans reggae beats. They were unique to say the least and created a refreshing atmosphere in anticipation for the bands to come. They did a cover of ‘Midnight’ by the band 340ml and it left the crowd happy and energized. After an “edible misjudgement”, Nomadic Orchestra had to postpone their gig and it caused a little bit of confusion, which is understandable and also legendary in the same sense. The break in the line-up gave Leon and I another chance to enjoy the spectacular views and sunset. Selfie time. Again, I realised the brevity of life and constants of tomorrow, but let’s get back to the festival.
I could write pages about the band Shadowclub. They are not just, in my opinion, one of the greatest South African bands, they are also very interesting characters and I am not just saying this because we met at the airport. Fronted by genius guitarist and lyricist, Jacques Moolman, with Louis Roux on bass and Isaac Klawansky on drums, they received a SAMA for best rock band in 2012 and deservedly so. They took a hiatus for a few years, but the boys are back to the delight of their many fans. Under the management of Mariska Geyer, I believe we will still enjoy their music for years to come. They played a brilliant set which included fan favourite ‘Good Morning Killer’ and their latest single ‘Dark Horse’, but I will admit ‘Dog Teeth’ completely took me by surprise. It was hauntingly beautiful, honest and inspiring. I could feel how the song captured everyone witnessing this hypnotic performance. Together with ‘All Aboard’, I was transported to music heaven. This is the stuff I live for and is a beautiful sunset to my fragile soul.
Laudo Liebenberg, being one of my favourite vocalists, and with protégé guitarist Frank Freeman playing one of my favourite albums, ‘Eet Kreef Herleef’ was another highlight of an already amazing experience.
Having met Albert Frost earlier that day and having played his music on my radio show, I still wasn’t prepared for what was to come. Albert, with his extrovert personality and infectious laughter, was another treat. I quickly realised that any serious guitar player has to have veins popping in their necks once they get going. The crowd went crazy every time Albert aimed his guitar at the crowd and everyone he made eye contact with immediately evaporated.
For 17 years, Prime Circle has been on the forefront of South African Rock music and their performance showed this. They delivered a spectacle of international standards. They will outlast many bands that we know right now and started before many of their fans were born. They are a class act that showcases the depth of South African Rock music.
That concluded day 2. Once again I had a warm shower and, together with a coffee made by the barista in the VIP lounge, I was ready for our walk. We treated ourselves again to the spectacular views of the Shaw Valley before we returned to witness the funny and entertaining Kalahari Boere Orkes. Ian Roberts has been someone I have been looking up to since he ran a race against Gavin van den Berg in the series ‘Arende’. He was so impressed by me greeting him, that he shook my hand two times. The festival ended with the majestic Karen Zoid. Tannie Karen is an enigma and even just getting close to her, puts you under her spell. I couldn’t help feeling small in her presence even though I might be older and definitely taller.
I felt so many mixed emotions when Leon and I packed up our bags and said goodbye to the ‘One Mad Tea Party’. Like many things in life, this amazing experience had come to an end. I knew already as we drove away, that this was an experience that will stay with me for a lifetime. Johann Latsky and Nicky Currie, the organisers, have become life-long friends of mine. The festival was more than I wished for. I felt new and rejuvenated again. Life is what you make it and once you understand the music, you will be free forever.
Philip Buys (Radio Presenter, Vinyl Collector and Lifelong Music Enthusiast)
In a fitting tribute to one of the most iconic figures in South African music history, the Johnny Clegg Tribute Show is on Sunday 17th of July, 2022 at the Emmarentia Botanical Gardens (Johannesburg), which marks the third anniversary of Johnny’s passing, and will feature some of South Africa’s top performers.
Johnny Clegg had the special quality of being able to unite people across all backgrounds and generations with his music. His music has always been a beacon of hope and inspiration and in a time when South Africans and the world need it the most, the lyrics to Great Heart stand true.
Johnny Clegg captured the hearts of a nation and the tribute concert will feature fellow musicians that will commemorate his life and his musical career. There will also be a dance tribute performed by dancers from Zululand and the local hostels.
“I really have fond memories of Johnny and all the work he did. He adored me and I adored him. Johnny gave so much to the cultural and musical language of this country and it is an honor to be on the bill to pay tribute to a giant “, said Sipho Hotstix Mabuse.
The biggest line-up of performers since ‘Concert in the Park’ to pay tribute to the iconic Johnny Clegg – Some of South Africa’s top performers will come together on one stage, including the likes of lifetime friend Sipho Mchunu, Soweto Gospel Choir, Just Jinjer, Sipho Hotstix Mabuse, Karen Zoid, Zolani Mahola, Francois van Coke, Majozi, Ross Learmonth, Kurt Darren, Arno Carstens, Jesse Clegg, the Johnny Clegg band, plus others to be announced.
Bright Blue, Ella Mental, and éVoid are especially flying back to South Africa for this event – the last two having performed alongside Johnny at the Ellis Park Stadium iconic Concert in the Park in 1985. Francois van Coke said “I had the privilege of meeting and sharing the stage with Johnny once. His humility really stood out for me. I have been a fan since I can remember and will be a fan forever”
Johnny Clegg – The Tribute Show will take place on Sunday, 17th July 2022 at Emmarentia Botanical Gardens (entrance on Thomas Bowler Street). Gates open at 10h00 with performances commencing at 11h00 – 18h00.
Money will be raised at the event for the Click Foundation, supporting ‘The Friends of Johnny Clegg’ charity which was established with Johnny in December 2018.
Hi, I read with interest your discussion about the ‘Cold Fact’ sheet music book… I just wanted to let you know that I have a copy of this book that I bought from a music shop in Brisbane, Australia in the eighties… and only a few years ago now I was fortunate to meet the great man and got him to sign it for me. Cheers 🙂
Love your music and your songs. I have “I Wonder” at the top of my Songlist and It is requested by many people when I perform. Wrote a few new verses to “I Wonder” as well. Thank you for your wonderful music!
Sixties rocker Sixto Rodriguez, who found mainstream fame in the documentary Searching for Sugar Man, is finally enjoying the fruits of his labours at the age of 80
By Graeme Culliford, 4 June 2022
He is a best-selling musician few people in the northern hemisphere had ever heard of until his story was told in 2012’s Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man.
Even Sixto Rodriguez himself didn’t know how famous he was in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand… because the money wasn’t exactly rolling in. Now the mystery of his missing royalties has been solved at last, and the 70s folk rocker – likened to Bob Dylan – has finally been paid his dues.
The American singer spent decades working as a builder and had no idea he was famous until he was tracked down by a couple of obsessed fans from South Africa. His records bombed in the States and his record label failed to alert him to the fact that he had developed a cult following overseas.
Now, ahead of his 80th birthday next month, we can reveal that Rodriguez has finally been paid the royalties he was owed and – after decades of living hand to mouth – he has made enough money to retire. But he still lives in the same modest house in Detroit and refuses to let his fame go to his head.
Stephen Segerman, 67, is one of the fans who tracked him down. The pair are now friends, and record shop owner Stephen says: “He’s a very philosophical about what happened and I don’t think he’s held on to any anger.
“He’s a lovely, humble guy and, although success happened very late for him in life, he’s just happy people found out about his music and that he’s now famous around the world.
“There was a court case that sorted out his publishing, so he started getting all the money he deserved.
“He knows that his life is just about as good as it can be – and there is no doubt his is one of the most amazing stories in rock history.”
Rodriguez wrote his seminal album Cold Fact in 1970, swiftly followed by Coming From Reality a year later. His lyrics delve into inner-city poverty and drug use – Sugar Man is the first track on Cold Fact.
Music producers had high hopes he was the next big thing and he was signed by famed Sussex Records boss Clarence Avant, who had previously worked with soul star Bill Withers and was known as the Black Godfather.
Rodriguez, however, was cripplingly shy and turned his back on the audience while playing on stage at a key concert in Los Angeles. He sold only six records in the US, according to Avant.
He faded into obscurity and went back to working in the construction industry in his hometown of Detroit.
Rodriguez later said of his decision to quit: “I would have loved to have continued, but nothing beats reality, so I pretty much went back to work. I do hard labour, demolition, renovating buildings. I do enjoy it. It keeps the blood circulating and keeps you fit.”
Little did he know that a few copies of his albums had made their way to the southern hemisphere, where they became a huge hit.
In South Africa, a number of his songs were banned by the apartheid government as they became a soundtrack to the revolution that eventually led to the fall of the regime in 1994. “In the 80s, every liberal white teenager in South Africa had a copy of Cold Fact,” says South African fan Karin Wright, 50. “It was blasted out at every party. We had no idea Rodriguez wasn’t a massive star worldwide.”
In Australia and New Zealand, rare copies began changing hands for hundreds of dollars.
His albums sold 500,000 copies in South Africa alone. They are said to have outsold both Elvis and the Rolling Stones in that country, and in New Zealand and Australia too.
Yet Rodriguez remained an enigma, a mystery lurking behind sunglasses. Fans could find out little about him.
Rumours abounded that he had set himself on fire on stage, died of a drug overdose or joined a left-wing terrorist group. Stephen had no connection to Rodriguez when he decided to solve the mystery with music journalist Craig Bartholomew Strydom.
In 1997, Craig spoke to a US producer who told him Rodriguez was still alive. Stephen then set up a website dedicated to the singer that caught the attention of his daughter Eva, who got in touch.
Stephen said: “When Craig and I set out on our search, all we wanted to know was, ‘How did this guy die?’
“Then one day, at 2am, the phone rang and I knew it was him straight away, because I knew his voice. It’s impossible to describe how I felt. Can you imagine Elvis calling and saying, ‘This is Elvis.’ How would you feel?”
In 1998, Rodriguez flew to South Africa to play a series of sold-out concerts to enraptured fans. He went on to tour the world, including London, earning hundreds of thousands of pounds. Then Swedish filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul got wind of the story and contacted Stephen to ask if he could help him shoot a documentary.
Searching for Sugar Man won Best Documentary Feature at the 2013 Academy Awards, as well as a BAFTA that year.
Intensely shy Rodriguez refused to attend the ceremony in LA, claiming he was busy playing gigs.
Two years later a lawsuit was filed in the States that eventually settled the issues of royalties, according to Stephen. The acclaim the documentary achieved has allowed Rodriguez to retire. Tragically, director Malik took his own life in 2014.
Stephen said: “When we went to the Vanity Fair party after the Oscars, we were so out of our depth. I was standing in the middle of this party watching Robert De Niro going past. There was an elderly guy with a buzz cut across the table, it turned out it was astronaut Buzz Aldrin. I felt like I’d landed on the moon.
“This whole thing has been a trip and such a wonderful experience. The only real downside to this story is that Malik is not around to see the effect his movie had. Malik was just a fun dude who came here and said, ‘I want to make this movie.’ Me and him drove around Cape Town with a camera woman shooting it.
“It’s so sad because he had the world at his feet and his movie helped bring Rodriguez to a whole new audience.
“A few years ago, I met two teenagers from China. They had watched a pirated version of the documentary and decided to buy a campervan and drive across Asia and Africa, all the way to my front door. That is the effect this story has on people.
“Rodriguez is delighted that people found out about his music and that he got to tour the world.”
I’m not sure how ‘official’ this site is, but if there’s any way the man himself can know, I owe it to him to say; “‘Cause” is some of the most beautiful and meaningful poetry (and art in general) that I’ve ever experienced. It’s a thing of pure and honest beauty and I thank you for creating such a thing.
I was listening to Cold Fact & Coming From Reality recently. Your music still inspires us today, so much so that I’m taking the time to write this. The lyrics, basslines, and rhythm have inspired me on my journey as an aspiring folk guitar player. The way you articulate your message in the artful manner and unique voice will never be replicated. I just want to let you know that you keep inspiring me every time I listen to your songs. Your name is right up there with Lennon, Dylan, Cat Stevens, Cohen, James Taylor… In fact you were much farther ahead of your time than any of them. Even though you’re 79, I was wondering whether you are thinking of touring or making new music? This generation needs a voice like yours now more than ever.
Anyways I hope you read this amongst the many fan mail letters you likely receive. And I hope you know just how much of an impact you have made and continue to make on all of us.