Rodriguez, the legendary singer-songwriter known only by his surname, is a self-taught guitarist. He began performing in bars and clubs around the city of Detroit in the 1960s, as the city suffered post- industrial urban decay. It was there that he recorded two studio albums, Cold Fact in 1969 and Coming from Reality in 1971 released on Sussex records. These recordings went unnoticed in the U.S. and Rodriguez eventually turned his efforts elsewhere, earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Wayne State University, running for political office and working construction and factory jobs to support his family.
In the late 1990s, South African fans finally sought him out, leading to the unanticipated renaissance of his music career. Their story is told in the 2012 Oscar award-winning documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, directed by Malik Bendjelloul , which has given Rodriguez a new measure of fame in the U.S. with his music and story now reaching audiences worldwide. The film has been aired multiple times on PBS and public TV worldwide and is available on DVD and streaming TV.
Rodriguez was unaware that he had reached legendary folk-rock super stardom status in South Africa, where mistaken rumors circulated that he had perished. As it turns out, South African anti-Apartheid activists and musicians alike were inspired by his counterculture lyrics. At the beginning of 2016 he went on a multi-city tour of South Africa, often playing multiple nights in arenas.
He has perhaps one of the most unique true music business stories of fleeting fame finally realized. Rodriguez is enjoying the collective heartfelt dream of a musician, beating the odds and finding a place in music history. With a music career that has withstood the test of time; the story of Rodriguez is one of sweet success.