“SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN”!

January 17, 2013

Searching-For-Sugarman-Poster2

MY FRIEND, MUSIC AND COMMERCIAL PRODUCER, JOE KLEIN, JUST TOLD ME ABOUT A DOCUMENTARY THAT WAS NOMINATED FOR AN ACADEMY AWARD CALLED “SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN.” IT’S THE STORY OF THE LITTLE KNOWN ARTIST RODRIGUEZ, WHO, AFTER RECORDING A COUPLE OF ALBUMS IN 1969 AND 1971 THAT NEVER BECAME HITS IN THE US, WENT ON TO BECOME A STAR IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND AND A SUPERSTAR IN SOUTH AFRICA, BUT DIDN’T LEARN OF HIS FOREIGN FAME AND CULT FOLLOWING FOR ALMOST 15 YEARS!
.
STILL UNABLE TO USE MY HANDS TO TYPE I ASKED JOE KLEIN TO SHARE THE REMARKABLE STORY OF RODRIGUEZ, THE FILM, THE MAN, AND THE MUSIC!
.
**********************************
.
SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN!
by Joe Klein
..
Since last summer, I’ve heard quite a bit of buzz about SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN, which was just nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar last week. Last November I saw a 60 MINUTES segment about the movie and the artist who is the subject of the film, SIXTO RODRIGUEZ. The documentary chronicles the amazing story of the seventies folk/rock artist, who was discovered in Detroit back in 1968 by producer/artist/musician DENNIS COFFEY (“Scorpio”) and his producing partner, MIKE THEODORE. The two produced Coffey’s instrumental hits and other artists, most notably GALLERY (“It’s So Nice To Be With You”) and were the production team for the first Rodriguez album, COLD FACT, in 1969
..
In the documentary, Coffey, one of the original Motown FUNK BROTHERS guitarists (whose distinctive “wah-wah” guitar sound graced countless Motown hits), and Theodore appear in interview segments speaking about working with Rodriguez. Their admiration of the artist and passion for his music is clear, as both recall their regret about the failure of Rodriguez to achieve the success and recognition in the United States that they felt he so deserved at the time. Those feelings were echoed in the film in clips featuring STEVE ROWLAND, producer of the second Rodriguez album, COMING FROM REALITY, and others who knew or worked with the artist.
..
As the story goes, Motown Records passed on Rodriguez, and he subsequently signed with Hollywood-based SUSSEX RECORDS, helmed by label president CLARENCE AVANT. Gallery and BILL WITHERS were on the Sussex label as well. Rodriguez never broke through in the United States, much to the surprise and dismay of those involved with him. Not heavily promoted by Sussex, his cutting edge Dylan-esque songs failed to garner any significant attention or radio airplay in the states, and he was dropped by the label just before Christmas 1971, less than two months after the release of the second album. Rodriguez continued to play club dates and record new music for several years but, sadly slipped into oblivion in America. Earlier this year at the Sundance Film festival where Searching For Sugar Man was honored, Sixto Rodriguez was described as “the greatest 70’s US icon who never was.” Here’s a video of Rodriguez performing the song “Sugar Man” at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
A virtual unknown in the U.S., his music magically found its way overseas, and Rodriguez ultimately became very popular in Australia and New Zealand. Then, incredibly, he became a huge superstar in South Africa, after his music surfaced there and struck a chord as tensions over apartheid were reaching the boiling point. Rodriguez was bigger then Elvis or The Beatles in the territory, but never played a single concert there in the seventies! Rumors of Rodriguez’s death (including one that he died on stage while performing) circulated for many years.
.
Even more amazing than his foreign overseas, in a pre-cable, pre-internet world where news traveled infinitely slower than today, Sixto was totally unaware of the foreign fame he had achieved! Nor did he know at the time that Sussex Records had licensed his two albums to labels in the foreign territories and that over half a million albums were sold in the seventies! In the documentary, Clarence Avant is asked about what royalties, if any, were paid to Rodriguez from the sales of units outside of the United States, but the former label chief sidesteps the subjects of sales and royalties.
.
Sixto Rodriguez would not learn of his notoriety down under and his status as a “South African Idol” for over fifteen years, and lived a modest, simple life as a day laborer in Detroit. He was finally tracked down by a couple of devoted fans from Cape Town, South Africa who went on a quest to see if the rumors of Sixto’s death were true or if Rodriguez was still alive and well, if not lost or in hiding. The Rodriguez zealots located the artist in the late nineties after an exhaustive search and, in 1998 convinced Rodriguez to finally perform in the now liberated South Africa. Rodriguez was welcomed there as a genuine superstar and performed to tens of thousands of devoted fans, many of whom had longed to see their lost musical hero for almost two decades!
.
TO BE CONTINUED……..
.
Watch the trailer for SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN below.
Special thanks to Joe Klein for putting this story together!
.
Joe can be reached via email  joe@newmediacreative.com
Joe’s production company’s website is www.newmediacreative.com
 .
 BACK TO ARTIE WAYNE ON THE WEB  http://artiewayne.wordpress.com/
About these ads

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 62 other followers

%d bloggers like this: