The Cold Facts…. A Journey On The Road Ahead, part 9 by Steve Louw

Rodriguez arriving in Cape Town, 2nd March 1998
Rodriguez arriving in Cape Town, 2nd March 1998

Rodriguez walked into the UCA rehearsal studio in Cape Town, grinning, looking fit and healthy, despite having just got off of a flight from Detroit, leaving the freezing winter behind him. It was the 5th of March 1998, the day before the first show of Rodriguez’ sold-out arena tour of South Africa, and the first time he had ever been to South Africa. There was a media frenzy around the tour and the fact that he was here, alive, well, and ready to rock a country where he was a mysterious, multi-platinum-selling artist, whose only media profile was the picture on the cover of Cold Fact.

Rodriguez - Cold Fact (South African pressing)
Rodriguez – Cold Fact (South African pressing)

We handed him the guitar we had bought him. Laughingly, he said he hadn’t played for a while as he’d been busy working, mainly on construction jobs. Then the voice and the songs we had all been listening to for the past 25 years filled the room.
Graeme Currie, our bass player, played the riff of “I Wonder”, for about the 15th time, and glanced backstage over his shoulder. The Bellville Velodrome was packed, and 7000 frantic fans surged forward to see “The Man”. Standing backstage, Rodriguez looked stunned. The audience spotted him as he took a step towards the lights. Seven thousand
voices erupted in a frenzy as he reached the mic and “I wonder, how many times you’ve been had….” filled the arena.

Rodriguez and Big Sky On Stage 7 March 1998
Rodriguez and Big Sky On Stage, Bellville Velodrome, 7th March 1998
Rodriguez Live In South Africa 1998
Rodriguez and Big Sky, Backstage, Bellville Velodrome, March 1998

The next week’s six shows around the country were just as triumphant as the opening night, and it felt as though this was Rodriguez, stepping out into worldwide artistic and commercial recognition. That would only happen more than ten years later, after the release of the Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man. The last time I saw him was Friday 13th March 1998, standing in his cowboy boots at 3am on the Durban beachfront, holding a beer and grinning. He looked like a happy man.

Searching For Sugar Man

It was 2019, the end of the decade, and 1998 seemed a long way back. I crossed the white-baked salt flats of Verneukpan, on my motorcycle, tracing the still visible route of Malcolm Campbell’s unsuccessful attempt to set the world land speed record in 1929, in his racer The Bluebird. My father was 14 when they came through his hometown of Calvinia, and I was always fascinated by this story. My dad was the ukulele player in a band, and together with a
banjo and a concertina player, they played the local folk songs at their towns’ weekend dances.
My bike kicked up fine white dust and the setting sun was blinding in my eyes. It was the second day of a solo motorcycle trip around South Africa, and it felt like I was back in a far-off distant time. The back of the bike was fishtailing as it spun in the soft sand, a jackal bolted for the bushes, and I turned out onto the road to the Namibian border. In a few months, I would be back in the studio after a long break. I opened the bike’s throttle as far as
it would go and felt the future accelerating towards me.

Steve Louw, Verneukpan, 2019
Steve Louw, Verneukpan, 2019
SPOTIFY PLAYLIST: The Cold Facts…. A Journey On The Road Ahead, part 9


Read the Complete Series

Steve Louw

Steve Louw is a South African singer-songwriter and rock musician. Winner of Best South African Rock Act, and a member of the SA Rock Hall of Fame, Steve is one of SA rock’s most talented and unassuming singer-songwriters. He and his band Big Sky appeared on stage with Rodriguez on the sold-out South African tour in 1998.

Top Tracks by Steve Louw

Jamie’s Rodriguez Story

I hope you’re all well. I live in England and I just wanted to share my Rodriguez story with you.

I buy cd collections from people in the vain hope of finding the hidden gem you can’t stop playing. Well a few months ago I got a pile from a charity and it had Coming From Reality in the box. I’d never heard of Rodriguez so it ended up on the listen pile and I couldn’t stop listening to it! I had no idea of his back story but I mentioned it to a few friends and was told watch Searching For Sugar Man. So this morning that’s just what I did and what an amazing and heartbreaking story! I had tears in my eyes watching him come on stage. Cold Facts has gone from the Christmas list to the being delivered tomorrow list.

It’s an absolute disgrace that someone has made a LOT of money from your huge talent but that’s the music business and it will never change. I hope your heart is warmed more by the fact that you have brought so many people so much happiness and will continue to do so forever.

Thank you Rodriguez, you are a wonderful person with an enormous talent.

All my warmest wishes


Sugar Man: A Rodriguez-inspired Mix, feat Large Professor, MonkeyWrench, Frank Sinatra | Brian Currin on Mixcloud Select

Sixto Rodriguez, Brian Currin, Stephen “Sugar” Segerman, 2 March 1998

Sixto Rodriguez was born on the 10th July 1942, and his amazing story was the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary “Searching For Sugar Man”.

Rodriguez was influenced by a variety of artists including Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Jimmy Reed, Jefferson Airplane and many others. He has also been a great influence on artists from various genres and he has been covered by musicians in the Jazz, Reggae, House, Electronica, Hip Hop and Rock fields.

This exclusive Mixcloud Select mix is a small tribute to this great and humble man who has inspired many, many people worldwide including myself.

Read more about Rodriguez at


Oscar-winning documentary gets extended-play treatment | Winnipeg Free Press

The story of Sixto Rodriguez as depicted in the Academy Award-winning 2012 documentarySearching for Sugar Man was one that intrigued the world.

The plot centred around Rodriguez, a musician based out of Detroit in the ’60s and ’70s, who was never able to gain traction in the United States despite numerous industry professionals comparing his songwriting chops to those of Bob Dylan — but perhaps even better.

But more than a story about a musician who somehow sadly flew so far under the radar, the film — and now the book, Sugar Man: The Life, Death and Resurrection of Sixto Rodriguez — are about a man who unknowingly became the soundtrack for a revolution half a world away. His first album, Cold Fact, became immensely popular in South Africa during the time of apartheid, unbeknownst to the singer himself.

The film follows two South African men as they search for Rodriguez (the name Sugar Man references a line in one of his songs), who was presumed to be dead. Once they discover he’s alive and well and living in Detroit, they take him to South Africa to perform for thousands of fans and to give him a taste of the life he should have had.

Written by Craig Bartholomew Strydom and Stephen (Sugar) Segerman, two men who play a large role in the film, Sugar Man is an exhaustively detailed account of all that happened before, during and after the time frame covered in the film. Segerman’s first encounter with a Rodriguez song while doing his mandatory time in the army, Rodriguez’s multiple stints in local politics, the eventual suicide of director Malik Bendajelloul not long after the film won an Academy Award — every conversation, every email, Sugar Man covers it all.

The book is broken up into four sections — the mystery, the man, the music and the movie — which is very helpful given the amount of voices and storylines that weave together to create the narrative picture as a whole.

On occasion, however, all the details and historic references do become overwhelming, and are not always necessary in order to move the story forward. In certain instances, it feels more productive to skim over those parts instead of reading word for word.

The most interesting tidbits are those excluded from the film (or that hadn’t happened until after the film was made), namely the fact that after his initial shows in South Africa, Rodriguez toured the country several more times in the early and mid-2000s with varying success, and the surprising falling out between Segerman and Rodriguez spurred by Segerman’s move into a more managerial role.

For those who loved the documentary, Sugar Man: The Life, Death and Resurrection of Sixto Rodriguez is an excellent companion piece that bookends the film beautifully, answering any and all questions one may have about the lives of all those involved, both pre- and post-documentary.

In the prologue of the book, Strydom and Segerman say the film was “the search for the man who didn’t know he was lost.” This book proves to be the rest of the story we didn’t know we were missing.

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer at the Free Press.

2012 has been the year of Rodriguez.

Sugar Man
Sugar Man

The NME described it best in the headline for their end of 2012 round up as the year “The World Fell In Love With Rodriguez“, and that pretty much sums it up….

We at wish Rodriguez, Eva, Sandra, Regan, and all the Rodriguez Family, and of course Malik, Craig, Matt and Camilla, a wonderful, happy, healthy and prosperous New Year 2013.

And to everyone who contributed articles, blogs, pictures, emails, stories, experiences or just messages of love and support for Rodriguez to the website during 2012, we thank you with all our hearts.

It has always been a sincere privilege for us to have been a part of this great man and musician’s journey for the past 15 years, and we look forward to continuing to bring you All The Facts about Rodriguez, so keep reading and listening.

Love, Peace and Music to you all!

Sugar and Brian.

“Sugar Man, you’re the answer, that makes our questions disappear”

Meeting the Sugar Man | But First, Coffee.


A few months ago I posted a summary and response to the independent film, “Searching for Sugar Man,” which tells the unbelievable true story of the humble yet legendary musician, Sixto Rodriguez. I had viewed the film’s SXSW Festival premier by pure chance this past spring with a friend, and have ever since adored the talents of this beloved human being, Rodriguez. Today a free poster from the event is proudly tacked on my bedroom wall. Just a few inches from the computer’s glowing white Apple icon, a Rodriguez sticker is pasted onto my MacBook Pro. “Coming From Reality,” Rodriguez’s second album, sits at the top of my small CD collection.

I remember peeking out from behind a pillar of a hotel in downtown Austin, Texas with my friend Kim the day after we saw the film back in March. There he was, to our surprise, in all his glory; Rodriguez, in the flesh, about to step into a car. He had attended and spoken at the premiere of “Sugar Man” the night before. Now he was here before us, a wondrous surprise dropped right in the middle of our stroll through the city.

via But First, Coffee..

Channel24’s Top 12 Movies of 2012 | Channel24

Searching For Sugar Man
Searching For Sugar Man

4. SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN – A documentary? A mystery? Or a musical? The story of how a couple of South African fans who set off on a trans-Atlantic journey to discover what happened to their musical hero, Rodriguez, forgotten 1970s American folk singer, will move you in so many ways. A future Oscar winner? Bet on it.

via Channel24’s Top 12 Movies of 2012 | Channel24.

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