A relatively unknown musician in America, but legend in South Africa during the 1960s to 1970s, musician Sixto ‘Sugar Man’ Rodriguez is finally getting his music royalties decades after his music became the soundtrack to many lives.
The award-winning documentary, Searching for Sugar Man which aired in 2012 detailed how the artist became famous locally, as well as in New Zealand and Australia but earned nothing from his music hits. It also showed how the artist was unaware that he was famous in SA.
The documentary won an Oscar and a Bafta award.
Rodriguez wrote and recorded his music in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but he didn’t have much success in the states, and he spent most of his life working in construction, living hand to mouth, Goodthings Guys reported.
His music was played through generations, and his status as a legend was solidified after the mysterious way he reportedly “died”. Wild rumours suggested the rocker set himself alight and then shot himself in the head, or died of an overdose due to his music disappearance.
Searching for Sugar Man creators Stephen “Sugar” Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom went on the hunt to find Rodriguez and in the late 1990s, the pair found him in Detroit, alive and living a simple life.
Rodriguez got his rock star treatment when he toured SA in 1998 for several sold-out concerts. He was built up to be the next Bob Dylan due to the similarities of their sound, however, he was incredibly shy and would turn his back on audiences when he performed.
The success of the documentary helped Rodriguez get the recognition he deserved.
A lawsuit was filed in the US and a court found he was owed royalties and a settlement was agreed on Sergerman told Mirror UK. Rodriguez will be paid out, just in time for his 80th birthday.
Compiled by Sandisiwe Mbhele