There seems to be this buzz around a song called ‘Sugarman’. You’ve probably heard it from a friend or on the radio. But did you know this song is actually 47 years old? What is the story behind this delayed discovery? Who is the voice behind ‘Sugarman’? There has also been a documentary called ‘Searching for Sugar Man’, released in 2012. So, for those who haven’t seen it, here is a short summary of the story behind Sixto Diaz Rodriguez.
Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, better known professionally as Rodriguez, was born July 10th in 1942 in the city of Detroit, Michigan. He was named Sixto because he was the sixth child of Mexican immigrant working-class parents. His parents moved to the United States together with a large group of Mexican immigrants. These immigrants faced a hard time for they weren’t fully accepted by the American people. This is probably why in most of his songs Rodriguez takes a political stance on the difficulties that faced the inner city poor. Sixto studied at the Wayne State University in Nebraska where he earned a bachelor of philosophy in 1981.
The song ‘Sugarman’ was released in 1970 on his debut studio album called ‘Cold Fact’. In 1967 however, he released a single called ‘I’ll Slip Away’ using the name ‘Rod Riguez’. This name was given to him by his record label at that time. He used his preferred professional name ‘Rodriguez’ after that. At first, he was relatively unknown in North-America. He only sold a few copies of his first album. In 1971 he recorced his second studio album ‘Coming from Reality’ but didn’t manage to get the needed attention.
Somehow, in the mid-1970’s his album was starting to gain a lot of attention in countries such as Australia and South Africa. When imported copies of his albums were sold out, an Australian record label, called ‘Blue Goose Music’, bought the Australian rights to his recordings. In 1991, both of his albums were released in South Africa for the first time, which helped preserve his fame. Sixto didn’t even know he was a huge succes in South Africa until the year of 1997. Being aware of this, Rodriguez went on his first South African tour, where he played six concerts in front of thousands of fans.
Since the release of ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ in 2012, Rodríguez has experienced a lot of media exposure and fan interest in the United States, as well as Europe. The documentary ‘Searching for Sugar Man ‘ strongly implies that Rodriguez may have been cheated out of royalties over the years, specifically by producer Clarence Avant. The matter is still under investigation, and the legal issues are complicated.
Rodriguez is often seen on-screen and touring around the world but has yet to release any new material.