I have just watched this film on Sky Documentaries and, oh my days, you need to watch it! Basically, back in the 1970’s, a singer by the name of Sixto Rodgriguez, who was from Detroit, signed a record deal which was expected to do great things. It didn’t.
Rodriguez was dropped from the label and carried on living his life as a blue collar worker, labourer, whatever he could do to get by and raise his family.
Meanwhile in South Africa, Rodriguez was hitting it big. To add to the mystery, it was rumoured that Rodriguez, had committed suicide; set himself on fire or shot himself in the head on stage, big stories but with no information about him.
Fast-forward to the 1990’s and two music sleuths, Stephen “Sugar” Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom, decide to carry out their own investigations to discover how Sixto Rodriguez died.
The sleuths track down Rodriguez’s eldest daughter and she says, ‘He’s alive.”
That night Rodriguez calls them back only to be told that in South Africa he is bigger than Elvis.
The family arrive in South Africa to be met by limos and are taken to a swanky hotel, a world away from their very humble home life. Rodriguez doesn’t sleep in the king size bed as ‘it’s too big and creates an unnecessary amount of washing!’
From rags to Rodriguez
Six sold out stadium shows later, Rodriguez returns to Detroit and back to his labouring job. His builder friends can’t believe it when he shows them the pictures of himself on stage singing to a packed crowd, who are singing his songs back to him.
American zero, South African Hero
And who got all the money? It certainly wasn’t Rodriguez.
I’ve given you a very basic outline of the story, which is beautifully told, culminating in a ‘Surprise Surprise’ even Cilla couldn’t have dreamed up. You will love it. I promise.
Click here to listen to ‘I wonder’ one of his biggest hits in South Africa – I think you’ll like it.