Some artists never get the recognition they deserve; others attain the glitz, glamour and gold at a much later date than expected. For Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, fame arrived at his doorstep fashionably late. Known to many simply as Rodriguez, the folk musician was born in Detroit, Michigan to middle-class immigrants from Mexico.
His parents’ sixth child (hence the name Sixto), Rodriguez soon developed a love affair with music, releasing a string of singles in the late ’60s, releasing to albums in the early ’70s only to be dropped by his label, Sussex Records, after poor album sales, forcing the musician to reconsider his career and eventually disappear from the world of music-making.
Unbeknownst to the gifted drifter, his songs and albums were slowly developing an impressive fan base for the sruggling artist half way across the world in South Africa, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Australia.
Tottally oblivious to his growing popularity, many of Rodriguez’s singles soon began to enjoy considerable airplay on radio shows South African radio shows in particular, with singles like ”Can’t Get Away” selling by the crate-load. Rodriguez became a cult hero.
Directed by Malik Bendjelloul, Searching for Rodriguez is a heartwarming and tuneful documentary that explores the life and belated fame of the mysterious rock ‘n’ roller.
Well received at this year’s SXSW festival, the documentary has been hailed by many critics as a fine piece of work, praised for its touching investigation of the success of the enigmatic Rodriguez.
Many Nas stans will be familiar with the rocker’s work, with the QB don having sampled the folk hero’s wildly popular anthem, “Sugar Man” for his 2001 classic Stillmatic; using the rocker’s lyrics and voice on the chorus of excellent introspective sizzler, ”You’re Da Man”; Large Professor‘s masterly ear crafting a haunting piece of stellar production to marry the gifts of two musical forces.
Searching for Sugar Man delves into the cult of Rodriguez, breaking down his appeal. Fame may have been a tad slow catching up with Sixto, but, better late than never.
Searching for Sugar Man was released in the UK on June 26.