SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN directed by Malik Bendjelloui (Sweden/UK, 2012)
On the forum of page of the website of Sixto Rodriguez, fans write to tell the world when they discovered this American singer-songwriter. Although his only two albums – Cold Fact and Coming From Reality – were released in 1970 and 1971 respectively, the vast majority of those posting say they first heard his songs after 2012. It is Bendjelloui’s affectionate documentary which has been instrumental in bringing him to the attention of a wider audience.
Until this time his fame was, bizarrely, confined to South Africa. There, his following was so huge that his admirers were not exaggerating to say that he was “bigger than Elvis”.
The albums had made little or no impact on American audiences but by a fluke they came into the hands of South African record buyers who identified with the singer-songwriter’s anti establishment stance and his compassion for life’s underdogs.
Stories circulated that Rodriguez had committed suicide onstage in the 1970s, so when an investigative musicologist found that rumors of his death were exaggerated his fans were incredulous and flocked to hastily arranged concerts.
I first discovered him yesterday after my daughter saw the movie at a one-off screening and came home raving about it. I watched it today on You Tube and understand why she was so enthusiastic. This is an amazing and heartwarming story which is astonishing in this day and age. Continue reading