Sixto Rodriguez  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Sugar man

Sixto Diaz Rodriguez (also known as Rodriguez or as Jesus Rodriguez) is an American folk musician, born in Detroit, Michigan on July 10, 1942. He was named 'Sixto' (pronounced sees-to) because he was the sixth child in his family. Rodriguez's parents were middle-class immigrants from Mexico, who left in the 1920s. In most of his songs he takes a political stance on the cruelties facing the inner city poor.

In the 1990s, determined South African fans managed to find and contact him, which led to an unexpected revival of his musical career. This is told in the 2012 Academy Award–winning documentary film Searching for Sugar Man, which helped give Rodriguez a measure of fame in his home country.

Contents

Career

In 1967 (under the name Rod Riguez) he released the single "I'll Slip Away" through the small label ‘Impact’. He didn’t produce anything for another three years until he was signed to Sussex Records; an offshoot of the Buddah label. It was after the move to Sussex that he changed his professional name to just Rodriguez. Rodriguez recorded two albums with Sussex—Cold Fact in 1970, and Coming from Reality in 1971. But after mixed reviews and low album sales he was later dropped from the label, which later folded in 1975.

Post career fame

After the failing to make an impact in America, he gave up his career as a musician. However, although he was relatively unknown in his home country by the mid 70s, his albums were starting to gain airplay in countries like South Africa, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), New Zealand and Australia.

After imported copies of his Sussex albums ran dry, an Australian record label, Blue Goose Music, bought the Australian rights to his back catalogue in the mid 70s. The label released his two studio albums plus a compilation album At His Best (featuring unreleased recordings from 1976 "Can't Get Away", "I'll Slip Away" (a re-recording of his first single), and "Street Boy". Unbeknownst to Rodriguez, it went platinum in South Africa, where he achieved cult status.

With a new buzz around Rodriguez, in 1979 he toured Australia with the Mark Gillespie Band as support. Two shows from the tour were later released on the Australian only album Alive—the title being a play on the rumours caused by his public obscurity that Rodriguez had died years ago. After the '79 tour he returned to Australia for a final tour in 1981 with Midnight Oil before quietly slipping back into normal life.

Recent success

In 1991 both his albums were released on CD in South Africa for the first time. His fame in South Africa was completely unknown to him, until 1998 when his eldest daughter found a website dedicated to him on the internet. In 1998 he played his first South African Tour. A documentary about the tour Dead Men Don't Tour: Rodriguez in South Africa 1998 was later screened on SABC in 2001. Later he played in Sweden before returning to South Africa in 2001 and 2005.

In 2002 his signature song, "Sugar Man", was added to DJ David Holmes' mix album Come Get It I Got It, gaining Rodriguez airplay again on Australian radio station Triple J. In 2007 he returned to Australia in April, to play the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival, as well as shows in Melbourne and Sydney. His song "Sugar Man" was in the 2006 film Candy, starring Heath Ledger. There has also been a film made about his life titled, Looking for Jesus. Rodriguez now continues to tour in various countries.

In 2008, to coincide with the reissue of Cold Fact, Rodriguez performed with a band that consisted of Jim Diamond, Bobby Emmett and Dave Shettler from The Sights, and Matthew Smith from Outrageous Cherry. In 2009, he played with a band whose members consisted of Cold Fact producer Dennis Coffey and Dan Kroha from The Gories.

His album Coming from Reality is scheduled to be re-released by Light in the Attic Records in May 2009.

Discography

Singles

USA

  • "I'll Slip Away" b/w "You'd Like to Admit It" (1967 as Rod Riguez)
  • "Inner City Blues" b/w "Forget It" (1970)
  • "To Whom It May Concern" b/w "I Think of You" (1970)

Australia

  • "Sugar Man" b/w "Inner City Blues" (1977)
  • "Climb Up on My Music" b/w "To Whom It May Concern" (1978)
  • "Sugar Man" b/w "Tom Cat" (by Muddy Waters) (2002)

Studio albums

Live albums

  • Rodriguez Alive (Australia – 1981)
  • Live Fact (South Africa – 1998)

Compilations

  • After the Fact (reissue of Coming From Reality; South Africa – 1976)
  • At His Best (Australia – 1977)
  • The Best of Rodriguez (South Africa – 1982)
  • Sugarman: The Best of Rodriguez (South Africa – 2005)




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Sixto Rodriguez" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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