“Searching for Sugar Man,” is the movie to see this fall in art house theaters. It is a wonderful story about a little known ‘rock star’ who was hailed in the early 1970’s to be bigger than Dylan. Music producers predicted he’d be the next music star.
As Clarence Avant, former executive at Motown, said, “If I had to pick the top ten most talented artists I’ve worked with, Rodriguez would be in the top five.” He was that good. Avant also added, “Let me see, he sold, hmmm, about…..six (6), six albums and those were to me and my kids.”
As the albums were released, Rodriguez made no waves from Detroit, or any where in America for that matter, yet, during his 30 years of obscurity in America, he was completely revered in South Africa and quite literally was a bigger icon than Elvis. Rodriguez’s family had no idea of any of this until 1998, when two fans hunkered down to find out if any one in the world knew a thing about Sixto Rodriguez. The fabled story heard in South Africa was he had committed suicide on stage. For twenty five years his music was played and idolized, while the story of his death was the stuff of rock legends.
Websites were created in South Africa, requesting any sliver of information about Rodriguez, who remained the mysterious, genius song writer from America. Then it happened one early dawn in 1998. The two South African fans, one a music store owner and one a music journalist uncovered astonishing facts.
This story has caught the eyes and heart of every one who has heard the story or seen the newly released Music and Performing Arts Documentary, ‘Searching for Sugar Man,’released by Sony Pictures Classics. The movie/documentary was directed and written by Malik Bendjelloul. Its first screening was at The Sundance Film Festival. It left Utah with rave reviews.
Enough said. You should see it or read about it. I refuse to say another thing. This is a movie that digs deep into the American soul. It resounds with every one who has ever lived and worked here. Rodriguez, like Woody Gutherie, is an American Hero. A legend and essential artist for lyrics that go beyond our every day struggles. Sixto Rodriguez’s words reached South Africa in a big way because he was talking about the struggles of people every where. His newly found, 34 year old, 2 1/2 albums have unleashed words that will last a lifetime, lyrics that come with a prolonged influence on the struggles of the working class every where in the world.
Debut album, Cold Fact, is not sold anywhere in the USA. Cuts “I Wonder” and “Sugarman,” are as fresh and intelligent today as they were in 1968. Soon, I’m guessing, his song ‘I Wonder,’ will be heard on radio stations around Denver.
It’s at the Mayan Theatre, on 1st & Broadway. www.landmarktheatres.com