We have just watched your documentary and think there should be more people like you in the world who share the wealth of their love as well as in other ways too. You have been an incredible father to your daughters who seem in awe of you and grateful for the life you provided for them. Your music is so poetic and beautiful and we would love to hear you in one final tour, or maybe a live performance recorded in Detroit?
Sending love and so much gratitude for you in the world.Anz and Teed xxxxxxx
Detroit street-poet folky appeared in the ‘60s then disappeared
In a 1969 interview, Mexican-American singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez had some harsh words for some of his fellow Michigan musicians. “I don’t have much respect for the MC5 because they stopped fighting the machine,” he casually told the Detroit Free Press.
While today both parties are known for their own revolutionary sonic missions, it’s no wonder why Rodriguez felt lukewarm about the hard-partying and grandstanding MC5. The modest Rodriguez lived the life he sang about. He was, and still is, a true underdog — a disconnected outsider who sings songs for other outcasts.
“I grew up in an orphanage and I’m grateful to the sisters of the Roman Catholic corporation for all they gave me and instilling that higher motivation thing,” he said in the same 1969 interview. “But that doesn’t work on the street, you know?”
And he knew all about the streets. During his 1950s youth, it served as his makeshift education. Though he never attended high school, he took part in the University of Michigan’s mature student program in the late ’60s. He fought for his education. “Street life teaches you a lot,” he said at the time. “At school, they’re just giving me different names for the things already in my head. … I function out of the reality of things around me.”
And that reality is cemented on his two now-legendary albums: 1970’s “Cold Fact” and 1971’s “Coming from Reality.” Billed simply under the name Rodriguez, the now-cherished records flopped here in the United States, causing the songwriter to sink deeper into the underground and step away from the stage. For years, his small but loyal fanbase didn’t know if he was dead or alive. Info on him was scarce. His followers were limited to reading tidbits written in his LP liner notes and clues he peppered into his poignant storytelling song lyrics.
However, on the other side of the globe, his two loner-folk LPs were secretly bootlegged and released in the Apartheid-era South Africa. Because it was pre-Internet, Rodriguez didn’t even hear about his South African success until years later. There, he was a mysterious celebrity, but here in the U.S. he was living hand to mouth in inner-city Detroit.
So what sound was it that captivated a far-away country to worship an unknown Motor City folky? A 27-year old Rodriguez explained it best. “Some people say I’m a folk singer because most of my stuff is soft with an acoustic guitar and all that,” the prophetic songwriter said. “But on my album, there are some very Motown-ish things. The division they talk of in music really isn’t there. … Later on, they’ll integrate music on the stations. There’ll be no ‘This is ours and that is theirs.’ It’s all music. It’s the universal thing.”
After years of obscurity, after a slowly swelling grassroots cult following grew, Rodriguez finally got his due. He began touring the world, sharing stages with the likes of Brian Wilson. During the last decade, he’s gone from scraping by, to earning an easy living thanks to his poetic songbook.
In 2012, his life was artfully documented in the “Searching for Sugar Man” film (“Sugar Man” being one of his most notable tracks). That year, it won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Not a bad feather in the cap for most, but the elusive Rodriguez was nowhere to be found at the ceremony. He later humbly admitted he didn’t want to steal attention from the filmmakers, among a few other reasons.
“We also just came back from South Africa and I was tired,” the forever-enigmatic Rodriguez told Rolling Stone at the time. “I was asleep when it won, but my daughter Sandra called to tell me. I don’t have TV service anyway.”
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.
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.
- I Wonder
- Inner City Blues
- Jane S. Piddy
- Sugar Man
- A Most Disgusting Song
- Like Janis
- Establishment Blues
- Climb Up On My Music
- I Wonder by Generation EXT (filmed during the studio recording)
- Forget It
Produced by Incha Productions
Executive producers: Georgina Parkin and Charles Watson
Directed by Tonia Selley
Edited by Cathy Winter
There’s something about carefully
placing the needle into the groove of
a record, then carefully having to lift
it again to turn the record around and listen
to the other side. It’s the kind of interaction
with music you just don’t get when
listening to a CD in the front-loader of your
car or a digital file on your phone or MP3
The allure of vinyl has seen many a
music-lover dedicate a room or more to
house precious collections, with Martin
Scorsese and Mick Jagger even naming
their TV series homage to the 70s US
recording scene in honour of the format.
With World Record Store Day (April
16), on the horizon, Atlantic Sun speaks to
two vinyl enthusiasts, record store owner
Stephen Segerman and Paul Waxon, DJ
and organiser of one of the city’s hottest
Stephen, the co-owner of Mabu Vinyl
record store owner, and also one of the
men who initiated the search for folk
singer Rodriguez documented in the film
Searching for Sugarman, said that it is great
to see the younger generation coming into
his store and buying records.
“I can only talk from experience from
my own shop which is now 15 years old –
and according to the Oranjezicht residents,
that is a long time for a record shop in
Stephen, who says he “grew up going to
record stores and loving record stores” was
born and raised in Johannesburg and
studied at Wits University. He worked with
his dad at a jewellery factory for 20 years
and in the 90s he decided to move to Cape
“I watched as CD’s came and records
disappeared and people gave up on them.
I didn’t, because I didn’t want to give up
my records.” Stephen said his business
partner, Jacques Vosloo, started the shop
on Kloof Street, not far from their current
location in Rheede Street.
“Across the road, where Vida Café is
now, was a double shop. It was a secondhand
shop called Kloof Mart and it was his
dad’s shop. Jacques bought a batch of
records and turned part of the shop into a
record store.” This was the beginning of
Mabu Vinyl. They have been in there current
location for the last eight years. “I’d
been a big customer in his shop and
helped him advertise. In the 13 years that
we’ve built this shop and moved here
(about eight years ago) we’ve seen nothing
but the rise of vinyl. Vinyl has been massive
and come back.”
He said that originally the shop just
focused on dance, trance and house
“This is what kept vinyl alive. Slowly as
DJs started using computers and CDs, pop,
rock soul and jazz records became popular
again. There were record shops where you
could buy (vinyl) records which there hadn’t
been for years.”
“With electronics you won’t be able to
touch things, put a needle on it and get that kind
of quality. We’ve watched records become popular
with the younger generation which is wonderful.
There are thousands of records out there.”
At Mabu Vinyl, they only sell second-hand
records. “We have a saying that the universe has to
bring it to us. In the old days these records were
analogue and you could feel the sound. These new
records are made digitally and then converted to
vinyl. It doesn’t have the same soul,” said Stephen.
“People nowadays download tracks but we grew
up listening to whole albums. You had Ziggy Stardust
and you would put it on your record player.
You looked at the cover to find out who the musicians
were. After 20 minutes you had to turn it over
and listen to the other side. I still think that people
who love music want to hear the whole album.
What we’ve seen now is that this analogue world has
come back. It has a place and it is not going anywhere
because these records are valuable.”
“We are supportive of World Record Store Day
but we are not going to go out and get new records
just for it. We are a 365 day celebration. We are all
music addicts and it is wonderful that this addiction
has bought records back.”
DJ Paul Waxon said he has been collecting vinyl
records since he was young and started his WaxOn
events, at The Waiting Room, two and a half years
ago because he just loved playing music.
“I have been collecting records and DJing for a
long time. I stopped for a while when everything
went to digital. I went away on a holiday with my
friends and I realised how much I missed playing
music to people.”
He said that he also knew that the only way he
would get back into it again would be with vinyl
records. “I’m not a purist but I didn’t enjoy playing
the CDs and MP3s. I started my event because I
wanted to play music in the way I wanted to.” Vinyl,
he said, was the only format being played in the
clubs up until the early 2000s, and it was this scene
that contributed to keeping vinyl alive when many
vinyl pressing plants were shutting down.
It was the introduction of CDs to the market
which pretty much killed off vinyl sales. Then came
digital formats such as MP3, which turned the
music industry on its head, challenging recording
companies and music stores to reconsider their traditional
ways of looking at the music business.
Over the past few years, however, vinyl has
regained its popularity. “They started Record Store
Day to create interest in a broad way,” said Paul. “It
put some weight behind and sales started growing
on a very rapid scale. We are close to the point
where vinyl will outsell CDs in the next couple of
But it hasn’t all been positive, with record pricing
often in the upper-hundreds as everyone seeks
to cash in on the renewed interest in the vinyl
Now the big major record labels have jumped
on to it. The people that kept the plants open were
doing small indie rock bands and electronic music.
They are reissuing albums now that are already
there and also overpricing the new records. I saw
a Saturday Night Fever album for R500.
“I feel like we should promote our own music in
this country. If we want to promote Record Store
Day we have to find a way to support local music
and not just bring in old re-issues.
“There is a lot of music from the 60s and 70s that
sit in our record stores and nobody cares about it.
Then what happens is people overseas find them
and reissue them. Then they become popular. We
need to value our own music more. If I find the
right store, I walk out of there really happy.”
DETROIT (WXYZ) – The star of the Oscar winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man will be performing his first post-Oscar show here in his hometown.
Sixto Rodriguez has scheduled a show at the Masonic Temple Theater for Saturday, May 18 at 8:00 pm. The show is being presented by the Crofoot Ballroom.
Ticket prices for the show have been set at two levels. They will cost you either $35 for the Balcony or $45 for the main floor. Tickets go on sale March 1 at Ticketmaster.com or thecrofoot.com.
Rodriguez is a local musician whose music made him bigger than Elvis in South Africa, all the while he remained little known her in his hometown.
Searching For Sugar Man has won the Bafta award for Best Documentary.
So history was made. Last night the Directors Guild Awards were held in Los Angeles, announcing the winner of their 65th Annual Awards. The DGA chose from nominees including Bigelow, Hooper, Lee and Spielberg (but not Tarantino or Zeitlin) to give the top honor to Ben Affleck, director of Argo. Damn! In addition to Affleck, they also chose Malik Bendjelloul’s Searching for Sugar Man as Best Documentary, Jay Roach’s Game Change as Best TV Movie, and Looper director Rian Johnson for his “Breaking Bad” episode. Affleck admitted: “I don’t think this makes me a real director. But I think it means I’m on my way.”
The other nominees for the 2013 Directors Guild Awards include: Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty, Tom Hooper for Les Misérables, Ang Lee for Life of Pi plus Steven Spielberg for Lincoln.
Los Angeles – Just hours after receiving an Oscar nomination on Thursday, SA-filmed musical documentary Searching for Sugar Man won Best Documentary Feature at the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards.
The film, which is a UK/Sweden co-production, tells the story of Detroit singer-songwriter Rodriguez who, as portrayed in the film, became a source of hope and inspiration in apartheid South Africa before mysteriously disappearing.
Searching for Sugar Man follows South African music fans who set out to discover what exactly happened to their idol Rodriguez – who will be performing in South Africa in February.
In Searching for Sugar Man’s online forum, users share their first discovery of the musician, Rodriguez.
Most users, from across the world, list variations on 2012 and 2013. But, for people with South African links, encounters with Rodriguez (and his album Cold Fact) go way back.
“Arrived in Jo’burg mid 1975 and EVERYONE was playing Rodriguez” … so the stories go, as Sugar Man and I Wonder (for me, it was Establishment Blues) became a staple for all of us raised on music termed alternative, conscious or folk.
|THE IMPOSTER – Bart Layton, Dimitri Doganis|
|MARLEY – Kevin Macdonald, Steve Bing, Charles Steel|
|McCULLIN – David Morris, Jacqui Morris|
|SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN – Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn|
|WEST OF MEMPHIS – Amy Berg|
The EE British Academy Film Awards will take place on Sunday 10 February at London’s Royal Opera House.
In discussions around education, we talk a lot about success. Often we talk in terms of monetary success (usually referred to as ‘financial security’ which makes it sound less greedy). Less often we refer to success in terms of happiness, fulfillment, spirituality or family; it is assumed, perhaps, that career and financial success inevitably lead to the other types of success.
Of course a lot of financially successful people are miserable in their personal lives, and on the other hand it is more difficult to appreciate the beauty of nature when you are busy wondering where your next meal will come from.
Ideas of what constitutes personal and/or financial success are so varied and individual in nature that it is difficult to speak of it in broad terms, and one of the reasons I abhor discussions in which someone tries to insist that without a 4 year degree, success is forever out of reach.
“No prophet is accepted in his own country” Jesus says in Luke 4:24. Perhaps there were too many voices in Detroit back in the day, or a music industry machine that had no patience to develop Rodriguez as an artist. But South Africa heard his voice and the people began to dismantle its system of racial segregation.