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Rodriguez

Another serious contender for the title of "artist least likely to enjoy a major career re-estimation," the story of cult enigma Rodriguez is nonetheless characterized by recurring moments of renaissance, sprawled over four decades and as many continents. Hopelessly obscure in the United States during his formative years as Detroit's answer to Dylan via Motown and Bacharach, in South Africa the artist notoriously remained a nostalgic reminder of apartheid. As Dutch national newspaper NRC Handelsblad discovered in 2005, young white South Africans who had been enlisted with the national service had embraced Rodriguez as their own counterculture Hendrix. However politically incorrect this must seem, their longing for the Vietnam era -- when smoking grass and listening to Rodriguez' thought-provoking lyrics was viewed as a means of rebelling against their own ultra-conservative government -- comes across as perfectly imaginable. As a consequence, much of his repertoire remains a big favorite of singalongs at an average "Braai," or barbecue party.

Born in Detroit in 1942, Sixto Diaz Rodriguez originated from a working-class background and dropped out of high school at the age of 16. Dividing his time between hanging around the university campus and playing assorted unconventional clubs and bars, he was introduced to Impact's Harry Balk, which led to the recording of his first single "I'll Slip Away" in 1967. When Balk took off for a career as a creative director at Motown, session players and ardent Rodriguez supporters Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore put him under the attention of Clarence Avant. About to set up his Sussex label, the latter was genuinely impressed with the artist's take on Detroit street life and supplied Theo-Coff Productions with sufficient means to cut an album's worth of material. Naturally, Theodore and Coffey took up keyboard and guitar duties, in addition to employing second wave Motown Funk Brothers for a rhythm section. Recording Rodriguez separately, they afterwards matched his voice and acoustic guitar to a sonic palette of various orchestrations and psychedelic effects. Being Sussex' first release, the resulting Cold Fact was a stone-cold folk-rock classic with an otherworldly feel to it.

Though industry-wise it was met with positive reviews, commercially the album gathered only dust. Theories as to why it didn't catch on in the climate of socially conscientious albums like Cloud Nine and What's Going on range from either not being played by underground radio and thus not meeting its intended public, or insufficient marketing by Buddah, with whom Sussex had a promotion and distribution deal. Though subsequently concentrating on Bill Withers, Avant offered Rodriguez the chance to record a follow-up in London with Steve Rowland (renowned for Family Dog's "Sympathy"). When 1971's Coming from Reality met a similar fate as its predecessor, the artist left the music business to enroll at university, in between working construction to support his family. End of story, you would think, but unbeknown to Rodriguez, he definitely wouldn't be left to reside in the "where are they now files".

Much to the artist's own surprise in 1979, he was requested to do some small theater shows Down Under, coinciding with the chart success of Australian re-releases of his albums. Fast forward to 1998, when Rodriguez was even more amazed to find vast amounts of mainstream acceptance. Apparently, some South African fans had invested quite a lot of effort in tracking down their long-lost hero. Their excitement to find him alive and well convinced Rodriguez to play arena-sized venues.

At last, in the 21st century, his genius was acknowledged across America and mainland Europe, his popularity re-sparked by hip-hop loving-crate diggers like David Holmes, whose mix compilation Come Get It, I Got It used Cold Fact's opening shot "Sugar Man" for its own eclectic musical journey. In 2008, Cold Fact became more easily available through a lovingly annotated re-release, followed in 2009 by Coming from Reality. To celebrate his umpteenth rediscovery, Rodriguez embarked upon a world tour, meeting old fans and a whole new generation of admirers. This renaissance was mirrored in the 2012 Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man and companion compilation soundtrack, which followed two Rodriguez fans' quest to discover the fate of one of their most beloved artists. ~ Quint Kik, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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Many rumors that he committed suicide~~~ glad it was just a rumour!
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He'll be in San Diego in July... With Brian Wilson!!!
Wish Nick Drake was alive!!!
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And they thought Jesus was dead. God Bless Rodriguez!
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jodiramirez
;-D
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nicko252008
Thank you Sixto for making such beautiful music.
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nicko252008
Get these albums now, before everybody gobbles them up. man.. what great songwriting.
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magalicious4
I agree, GREAT GREAT musician and humble talented man!
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Amazing story. Amazing humble man. I love this man's life, his songs. I hope he does another album.
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jason_anders o n 9
Rodriguez is amazing. Unbelievably soulful and wise beyond his years. Brilliant talent. Beautiful beautiful stuff.
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It Started Out So Nice, yep, it sure did...
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In the 70's, when I first discovered this remarkable man, there was talk he died in a plane crash. What a talent! So meaningful, much angst, beautifully expressed.
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Bobonnit doesn't know what he is talking about re Rodriguez. Have a good listen dude. He is very as acerbic. Some very skilful lyric pp
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Never heard of him in the 60's and 70's and judging by what I am hearing now, I didn't miss anything.
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anyone else see the documentary searching for sugar man???--- great story. they begin their search on the presumption that he committed suicide -- since i knew nothing of his music I was shocked at the end to see him walking and playing in detroit after so many years. i haven't got off this station in 2 weeks. bloody beautiful boy
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anyone else see the documentary searching for sugar man --- great story. they begin their search on the presumption that he committed suicide -- since i knew nothing of his music I was shocked at the end to see him walking and playing in detroit after so many years. i haven't got off this station in 2 weeks.
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jimfennen
A humble poet who speaks with clear lyrics that reach the heart. His amazing story only adds to his talent. How could most of us have missed this for so long? If I was a musician he would humble me with his talent….as he does now with his life and how he lives it. I have found his documentary in the Library system and can’t wait to see “Searching for Sugar Man”.
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darrenmrks
truly remarkable man.truly remarkable songs. comparible to cat stevens, dylan, roy harper, neil young etc which is a mighty effort for few albums and a small suitcase of songs. great songs though ( sandrevan lullaby ; why can i not write something like that? -i would be sooo proud of myself if i could). and good to hear he is not deceased as was rumoured for a long time. come the time though, angels will be welcoming him to the afterlife i'm sure-sooo sure !! please pen sum more tunes jesus
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He has taken over the # 1 spot in my love for an artist. He is truly and lost entity...tha t has finally been found. South Africa had more sense than we did.
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A real genuine artist just like many of the great artists that were unappreciate d in their time, his words still ring true and BTW ,,,Detroit still in trouble both socially and financially and very little has been done to fix it. This man was also an activist who predicted its crash course with recession and social inequality. Unfortunatel y this became even more apparent during this last recession when the Big 3 auto makers went to Washington for handouts to save themselves but not Motown.
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it's the MAN that makes his story so compelling. he did not show up at the Oscars when the documentary of his life won because he did not want to take attention away from the accomplishme n t s of the film makers. wow.
from now on we must ask ourselves, what would Rodriguez do?
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Watching Looking for Sugarman left me hungry to learn more of this facinating being. He story transfered me to his surrealistic world. I can truly say, l love you, Rodriguez. Thank you, Pandora
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Just watched Searching for Sugarman and was blown away by his music and the tale of true talent lingering in the margins of Big Music Industry. Good artistry lasts, ideally comes to light through a circuitous road. Glad that this happened for Sixto and am pleased to find his music on Pandora!
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He sang from the heart, and gave all he had -- Himself
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i love really really love sixto, true lyrics & good voice. You are one of my favorite artists and your music makes me happy :)
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djtonkovich
I am thinking that Sixto is one that should have never achieved fame. History has proven that the truly talented, artistic, humanist musicians under a record label all tend to lose their soul and eventually usually too early their lives..I am so grateful to have been introduced to him and his talent and truly believe that we are lucky within our generations to be able to rediscover him and his music which was way ahead of his time and the US pop chart market.
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dmcdon8791
Stories of street life in Detroit in the '60's match my memories. He captures the senses...
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Got hooked on this artist way back when as a travellin' hippy...stil l as good as ever...
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rrwjams1
Yeah, better then expected. This guy really has talent!
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srskier
Just watched the film - Searching for Sugarman. Incredible story made possible by an incredible man and his music. Thank you Pandora!
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acm1236
Ever since I first learned of Rodriguez by watching Searching for Sugarman I have become a huge fan. I have been turning people on to him since then. (Even total strangers on an airplane :-) He is such a humble musical genius. I finally got to see him in concert and he definitely does not disappoint!
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I will listen to this beautiful man's beautiful music all my days he is a musical storytelling master !!
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RODRIGUEZ IS BEYOND AWESOME!

MOONSHADOW
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I just watched this movie Searching for Sugar Man and all I can say is please pass the Word on Sixto Rodriguez. United States We Must Support This Awesome POET...
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Love your music. You are as good as Dylan if not better.
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I try to tell everyone I know about this amazing artist yet even pandora doesn't feature him.
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booton78
Was a teenager in the 90's in South Africa and loved the music. Rich folks hoax still a favourite
Report as inappropriate
Ever since I watched the documentary, I literally could not stop listening to Rodriguez. As a matter of fact, I am just now listening to Forget It. What an amazing and under-rated musician.
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Just watched Searching for Sugar Man last evening. WOW!!!! The humility this man, this artist exudes is matched only by the amazing turn of events of this story in the first place. WOW!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! !
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How the hell did this man slip through our American fingers in music!
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wade_gary
Fortunate to grow up listening to Cold Fact on cassette in SA and then to re-find him and enjoy him all over again - great music, great story, great man.
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The beauty of Rodriguez, his lyrics and his life captures your heart and it swells with a renewed joy that music can only create!!! Do someone a favor...turn them onto this artist.
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BOSS
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That documentary was SO necessary for America. Such a shame it took us this long to embrace this amazing man.
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galindo6224
Rodriguez is awesome! New music from decades ago - good luck with your newfound fame! You deserve it.
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perlasteve
Thanks to the tireless efforts of the South Africans. Without the movie I never would have heard Rodriquez, and I used to call myself a musician.
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Saw his documentary and love his music. What a cool guy!
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louisastano4
so true of all true vocalists when you listen and they make your heart soar to the skies... thanks rodriguez. aaaaaaaaaaaa a a a a a a a a a a h so good.
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aaaaahh....
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You may be ancient Mr. Rodriguez (so am I)...but you are a legend!! Charmayne in Oz ♥:-)
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......many years....
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