Legendary singer-songwriter Rodriguez will return to Australia in October and November to play headline shows in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and two shows at the Opera House in Sydney.
After his two albums – 1969’s Cold Fact and 1971’s Coming from Reality – went unnoticed in America, Rodriguez eventually turned his efforts elsewhere, earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Wayne State University, running for political office and working construction and factory jobs to support his family.
Now Rodriguez is enjoying a revival after been “rediscovered” by the Oscar Award winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man in 2012 and will be touring Australia for the fourth time since 2007. Although the film focuses on the singer-songwriter cult following in South Africa, Rodriguez also had a significant fanbase in Australia; he first toured Australia in the late ‘70s and returned in 1981 playing shows with Midnight Oil. He has reguraly dropped a cover of Midnight Oil’s ‘Redneck Wonderland’ into his Australian setlists alongside his takes on Carl Perkins’ ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ and Bob Dylan’s ‘Like A Rolling Stone’.
Sunday, October 19 – Convention Centre, Brisbane
Tuesday, October 21 – Opera House, Sydney
Thursday, October 23 – Opera House, Sydney
Saturday, October 25 – Palais Theatre, Melbourne
Wednesday, October 29 – AEC Theatre, Adelaide
Friday, November 7 – Kings Park & Botanic Garden, Perth
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.
BACK in 1970 and 1971, the Detroit folk singer Rodriguez released two brilliant albums in America. But Cold Fact and Coming from Reality were met with resounding indifference and negligible sales.
Hearing the music now it almost defies belief that those albums could be so emphatically ignored. Both contain affecting political and social observations on urban life, performed with remarkable vocal and musical dexterity.
Rodriguez reluctantly accepted that he’d missed his shot at a successful career and returned to relative obscurity in Detroit where he completed a BA in philosophy at Wayne State University and dabbled in local politics. He made a living as a labourer on construction sites and occasionally as a social worker. He had three children. His life was unexceptional and he struggled to make ends meet.
Rodriguez, aka Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, Rod Riguez, and Jesus Rodriguez, released a pair of albums, “Cold Fact” and “Coming from Reality,” in 1970 and 1971. His music was influenced by Bob Dylan’s, but it had the hard edge of his native Detroit and was often political in nature. It went nowhere in America, and Rodriguez eventually dropped out of the music scene, earning a living as a demolition worker while pursuing a PhD in philosophy at Wayne State University. But the story turned out to have a Part Two. Abroad, Rodriguez was discovered in several countries, most notably of all in South Africa. There, the songs on “Cold Fact” became anthems of the anti-apartheid movement, and Rodriguez acquired a cadre of fans who circulated a false rumor that he had died. After running unsuccessfully for the Detroit city council, Rodriguez came back to public notice in his home country after a documentary, “Searching for Sugar Man,” explored the circumstances surrounding the death hoax and won notice at the Sundance Film Festival. Now, Rodriguez is back, with a new album, successful tours, and an appearance on “60 Minutes” to his credit. His personality, idealistic and eccentric, is like a time capsule from the 1960s, and the word “unique” is insufficient to describe his talent.
On 6th March 1998, when Sixto Rodriguez walks out on to the stage at the Bellville Velodrome for his first South African performance, a 25-year-old mystery will end and a new story will begin. This will be “the answer that, makes the questions disappear”.
The mystery that will be solved is: what ever happened to Rodriguez, the artist who recorded the cult album ‘Cold Fact’ that has been so hugely popular in South Africa since 1971? There have been so many rumours and urban legends all these years. Stories that he was dead, blind and imprisoned have all proved to be false. The simple truth is that nothing happened to Rodriguez. South Africans didn’t know where he was and he barely knew where South Africa was. He knew of Australia and his fans there because he had successfully toured there in 1979 and again in 1981. Since then he had continued his full and varied existence in his hometown and birthplace, Detroit, Michigan. He had raised three daughters, Eva, Sandra and Regan, received a BA Philosophy degree from Wayne State University, travelled around America with a North America Indian tribe and stood as a candidate for public office on numerous occasions, including for the position of mayor of Detroit.
His four recorded albums,’Coming From Reality (After The Fact)’,’Cold Fact’,’The Best Of Rodriguez’ and ‘Rodriguez Alive’, continued to sell consistently and were eventually released on CD, with the exception of the ‘Alive’ album. This was a recording made on his 1979 Australian tour which received a one-year-only limited vinyl release in Australia and is therefore very scarce and collectable.
Besides his continuing success in South Africa and Australasia, however, Rodriguez is virtually unknown in the USA, England and Europe. It was the ex-South Africans who left their homeland in the ’70s and ’80s who spread the word about these albums in these areas. If’is hoped that even though Rodriguez is now well into his 50s, the success of this South African tour will kick-start his belated but deserved career in the USA and Europe. Tours to Australasia and Canada are being considered, as is the possibility of some new recorded material as well as a live CD from the South African Tour.
The revival in Rodriguez’s career happened as a result of the South African release on CD of his debut album ‘Coming From Reality (After The Fact)’. The liner notes that accompanied this CD raised the question of what had happened to Rodriguez and whether there were any “musicologist detectives” out there who felt motivated enough to find out. Well, there was one in Johannesburg and Craig Bartholomew immediately began his one-year search that resulted in him locating and speaking to Rodriguez in August 1997. At the same time, contact was made with Rodriguez’s daughter Eva through an Internet website that had been established to try and find the missing artist. Soon Rodriguez became very aware of South Africa and the large cult following that he enjoyed there as well as the thousands of his CDs that were still being sold there year after year. At this stage Rodriguez himself did not have copies of his own albums; all he had was a copy of ‘Cold Fact’ on a reel-to-reel tape!
In October 1997, Rodriguez, who is a very private and reserved person, was described by his daughter Eva as follows: “My father is in great health physically and mentally. In my eyes, he is ageless, creative, strong, intellectual and different. He has kept his hand and his mind on the music, living a surprisingly average and somewhat alternative life. He has raised three daughters, labored, got an education, ran for political office and pays dues and debts like the rest of us.”
News of his discovery and impending tour was received with a sense of amazement and disbelief by his many fans in South Africa. Nothing short of the news of a joint tour by Elvis Presley and Jim Morrison could have aroused such a reaction. Well, Rodriguez is very much alive and living in Detroit and now, 27 years after his music first appeared in South Africa, he is performing in this country. We South Africans have been privileged to witness many awe-inspiring and wondrous political, musical and sporting events during the past few years. We have witnessed concerts by some of the biggest names in contemporary music. However, this tour must surely rate as one of the most unexpected and eagerly-anticipated musical events ever in our history. It is with great pleasure we South Africans welcome Sixto Rodriguez to our country.