Out for a drive south of Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 6, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Purcari Winery, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist! Arrive December 8th.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Strange Story of Sixto Rodriguez

We watched a documentary the other night, and it was such a fascinating story that I have to tell you about it.

One of the things that made it interesting to us is that a part of it takes place in South Africa, and having been there made it all the more entertaining. But even if you've never been to South Africa, this movie is so worth watching.

The movie is called "Searching for Sugar Man". It was released in 2012, and it won the Best Documentary category at The Academy Awards for that year.

Sixto Rodriguez was a young Detroit musician in the late 1960's and early 1970's. He recorded two albums, one in 1970, and one in 1971. Both albums sold very few copies in the United States and he was soon dropped from the label.

As the 70's wore on, Rodriguez dropped out of the music scene and became a construction worker.

But unbeknownst to him, the two albums that had bombed in North America were slowly gaining cult status in South Africa as bootleg copies were distributed to radio stations there.

All through the 1980's, his popularity in South Africa grew. It's difficult to imagine, but in that country he was more popular than Elvis Presley. There were even rumors that he had died on stage and that's why he only made the two albums.

Eventually, in the late 1990's as use of the internet became available, two South African fans decided to see if they could find out the facts about the mystery musician known as Rodriguez. And they tracked him down, where he was still working construction and living in a dumpy old house in Detroit. The man had no idea that he was famous.

In 1998, they brought him to South Africa where he performed six sold out shows to thousands of fans who wouldn't stop screaming for 20 minutes to allow him to play. Like I said, in South Africa he was more famous than Elvis.

The movie is so good at explaining how incredulous the story is. Stranger than fiction and too weird not to be true. We highly recommend you watch this movie...I'm positive that you'll enjoy it.

Available on DVD or download at Amazon.com



14 comments:

  1. We watched it last winter while in Mexico and have spread the word to many. It really is fascinating, isn't it? The funny thing is, we have the soundtrack playing right now and I came across your post!

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    1. Talking about strange, I can't believe that you were listening to the soundtrack. That's just too weird!

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  2. You know, not that long ago while visiting a sister-in-law in Guelph, there was this certain cd on the player, and I was quite intrigued with the music. It was one of his recordings, and she proceeded to tell me about this documentary. Now, I have to see this documentary. I've been meaning to...

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    1. Yep, you definitely have to watch it Bob, it's quite the story!

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  3. You've piqued my curiosity, I have to check this story out. Strange things like this you can't make up! ;c)

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    1. That was the idea of the post! :-) I am sure you will enjoy it. It really is hard to believe that this story is true but it is!

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  4. I think that movie on on Canadian Netflix too - I will have to watch it with hubby (who loves Music). What a neat story!

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  5. Somehow I missed that documentary but I have another one to recommend, especially if you're a photography fan. It's called "Finding Vivian Maier" and it's about a guy who buys a big box of negatives at an auction, having no idea what he was getting, and discovers a great female photographer who otherwise would have died in obscurity.

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    1. Sounds like a similar story. Our problem is trying to find these movies as they aren't popular and we don't have TV. We'll check out the libraries and see if we can find it that way. Kevin had got a copy of this movie from a friend who had it on their computer.

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  6. Doc aired 2 yrs ago, glad you finally saw it. He tours, but it's limited. Catch him while you can. Live music is better

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    1. Glad you got to see the movie. Have you had a chance to see him live? I think if we got the chance we would certainly go!

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  7. Loved the movie as well. Also being from SA I loved the scenery. We saw him live in Detroit last year and loved it. Thanks for the post.

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    1. Yep, it was fun watching the movie and seeing some of the places that they were shooting and then saying "we've been there"! Glad that you got to see him live, that would have be pretty cool.

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