The music world is saddened by the death of Sixto Rodriguez, a mysterious singer-songwriter whose songs touched the hearts of people of all ages.
His hauntingly beautiful songs “Sugar Man” and “I Wonder” made him a cult favourite. Even though he was initially unknown, his touching words and unique voice eventually made him famous worldwide and inspired many artists.
Rodriguez’s music will always be remembered, as his songs continue to touch hearts and connect feelings. As we say goodbye to this music legend, we celebrate his lasting mark on the business and his considerable impact.
Sixto Rodriguez Dies
The guitarist Sixto Rodriguez, who was featured in the film Searching for Sugar Man, passed away at the age of 81. The artist, born in Detroit, confirmed his passing on Tuesday.
The Associated Press shared a post on Twitter:
Singer and songwriter Sixto Rodriguez, who became the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary “Searching for Sugarman,” has died. He was 81. https://t.co/znMM5gu8Oz
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 9, 2023
After beginning his career in 1967, Rodriguez had difficulty succeeding in his native United States and was finally dumped by his record label. But over time, his music gained a cult following abroad, and his albums saw significant sales and airtime in Australia and South Africa.
Even though Rodriguez’s music was so well-liked throughout the nation, nothing was known about him, and untrue rumours that he had committed suicide on stage in the 1970s were circulating. However, Rodriguez had returned to a life of relative obscurity and construction work and was still alive and well and residing in Detroit.
He had no idea of his popularity outside of South Africa, partly due to bootleg versions of his album Cold Fact being distributed there and used as an unofficial soundtrack for young protests against apartheid.
Despite his popularity there, Rodriguez didn’t learn of his success until his oldest daughter, Eva, stumbled upon a website devoted to him in 1997 when the internet was still in its infancy.
After contacting the website, Rodriguez booked his first South African tour in the late 1990s. The Mexican-American singer and guitarist was playing to packed houses in the largest arenas in the nation before heading to Australia for a run of performances.
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Two South African admirers tracked Rodriguez down in the 2012 Oscar-winning film Searching for Sugar Man to learn what had happened to him. One of the fans, Stephen Segerman, told the BBC that “the rumour was that he was dead.”
“To our shock, horror, and delight we found out that he actually wasn’t dead, he was living in Detroit. We convinced him to come to South Africa to tour and he walked out on stage in front of stadiums full of screaming fans who sang every word of his lyrics, that was the beginning of his success.”
His career experienced a second boom following the documentary’s release, which told the tale of Rodriguez gaining popularity abroad. He then started touring and recording once more.
Four decades after their initial release, the two albums Rodriguez made in the early 1970s, Cold Fact and Coming From Reality, were internationally famous due to the movie. Rodriguez performed at festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury.
According to the statement:
“It is with great sadness that we at Sugarman.org announce that Sixto Diaz Rodriguez passed away earlier today. “We extend our most heartfelt condolences to his daughters – Sandra, Eva, and Regan – and to all his family. Rodriguez was 81 years old. May His Dear Soul Rest In Peace.”
The cause of the musician’s passing was not disclosed.
“He was a true legend, and it was an honour to know him,” he said. “What a privilege to share his amazing story with the world. RIP Rodriguez – your music will live forever.”
“In the US he lived in relative obscurity, but was hugely popular in South Africa without him ever knowing until much later on,” he said. “We will never witness a story like his in our lifetime again.”