Reclusive Musical Legend Rediscovered Through Hit Documentary & Soundtrack Album on Legacy Recordings/Light In The Attic
Rodriguez Selling Out Concerts from New York to London
CBS “60 Minutes” Segment Airing Sunday, October 7
The artistry of Rodriguez–a Detroit-based cult musician who’d written and recorded two obscure albums, Cold Fact (1970) and Coming From Reality (1971), before fading into the footnotes of underground American music–is being discovered anew thanks to Searching For Sugar Man, a critically-acclaimed documentary directed by Malik Bendjelloul and the film’s soundtrack album, available now from Legacy Recordings/Light In the Attic.
The success of Searching For Sugar Man has led to an incredible renaissance for Rodriguez, the subject of a CBS “60 Minutes” segment airing on Sunday, October 7 (check your local listings). The artist, who appeared at this year’s Newport Folk Festival, has a 22-date American headline tour in the offing and a Facebook page devoted to his music. On Friday, September 21, Rodriguez played the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival in Columbus, Missouri, in a concert featuring Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes as backing ensemble. Rodriguez will embark on a major tour of the United Kingdom–he’s already sold more than 8,000 tickets in London!–and Ireland beginning November 16. On August 14, the artist made his national television debut performing “Crucify Your Mind” on the “Late Show” with David Letterman. NPR’s popular “World Cafe” will air a Searching For Sugar Man special on October 18.
While songs like “Sugar Man,” a dark paean to the drug-addict-pusher relationship, and “Crucify Your Mind,” an inquiry into the nature of consciousness, capture and illuminate urban realities, other tracks–like “I Wonder” or “I Think of You”–reflect a breezy, if leery, romanticism, the ruminations of a man who knows what love is, and what it is not and is able to put it all into poetry that rings as true as streets of Detroit, as real as today.
The film opened the 2012 Sundance festival–where it won a World Cinema Audience Award (Documentary) and a World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Prize for its Celebration of the Artistic Spirit. It premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival and was hosted by Alec Baldwin at the Hamptons International Film Festival’s Summer Docs series.
Searching For Sugar Man chronicles the improbable story of Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, an uncompromising artist on the brink of success in the early 1970s who’d taken American protest music into stark new urban territory with two classic cult albums–Cold Fact in 1970 and Coming From Reality in 1971–before vanishing from public view after both albums tanked. In a twist of history, a bootleg copy of Cold Fact found its way to South Africa, where the album’s streetwise narratives of chaos, corruption, revolution and redemption became anthems of the anti-apartheid movement. Virtually unheard in America, Rodriguez’s music was threatening enough to be banned by the government of South Africa, where the enigmatic Rodriguez was as popular as Elvis or the Stones, as revered as Bob Dylan or the Beatles. Searching For Sugar Man brings Rodriguez face-to-face with a nation of fans he didn’t know existed while introducing a whole new generation of listeners to his music.
Rolling Stone’s David Fricke, covering Rodriguez’ triumphant August 31st solo show in Manhattan, observed that “Searching For Sugar Man covers only the first stage of his improbable, deserved and heartwarming resurrection. At the Highline, it was obvious: The joy and sharing are just getting started again.”
Rodriguez, his music and the film have been drawing praise from all quarters including celebrity fans sharing their views on Twitter and other social media. “All agreed It was our best OpeningNight ever. A stunning, incredible documentary ‘Searching for Sugarman’ had audiences leaping 2 their feet,” tweeted Michael Moore after the film’s premiere at this year’s Traverse City Film Festival. “I was blown away by Searching For Sugar Man. Beautiful film. Must see.,” tweeted Susan Sarandon.
“…If it’s playing where you are, do NOT miss it. Astonishing….,” wrote Roger Ebert on Twitter, where Jonah Hill wrote, “Just saw an unbelievable documentary called ‘Searching For Sugar Man‘. It’s about an amazing 60s musician named Rodriguez. Buy his music!” and Lance Armstrong tweeted, “….I couldn’t stop listening to the @sugar_man soundtrack. Incredible music and an even better story.”
“I just watched this documentary and it is incredible, moving and real!,” raved Kid Rock on his Facebook page. “This movie not only tells an incredible story but will also turn music lovers on to some unbelievable songs.”
“Searching For Sugar Man gave me a brand new hero,” said Sara Bareilles. “Rodriguez and his story are exactly what I love about the magic of music, and I left the theatre with a heart full of hope.”
“Rodriguez is an inspiration…and his music is as potent now as it ever was,” said Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.
The growing list of celebrity fans who’ve tweeted their support for Rodriguez includes Diplo, Scooter Braun, Sondre Lerche, Natalie Maines, Silversun Pickups, Steve Nash, Branden Campbell, Tom Green, Mario Batali (“Wow. Sugar Man!!….Go see it ASAP !!), Paloma Faith, Roseanne Barr (“Rodriguez!!!! Genius!!!….”), Zach Galifianakis, Pharrell Williams, Ron Howard and others.
The first Rodriguez album to chart in the states, the Searching For Sugar Man soundtrack reached #3 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, #6 on the Folk chart and #163 on the Billboard 200. The album hit #13 on the album chart in Sweden, where it peaked at #2 on the iTunes chart. And, in South Africa, Searching For Sugar Man went Top 10, reaching #6 on the charts.
“Everyone loves a should-be star who never got their shot,” wrote Jim Farber in his CD review of the Searching For Sugar Man soundtrack in the New York Daily News (July 24, 2012). “….the soundtrack…makes its own argument for the injustice done to a significant talent….Many of the arrangements come courtesy of producers Mike Theodore and Dennis Coffey (who played guitar in Motown’s stellar house band, the Funk Brothers)….Small wonder bootlegs of Rodriguez’s albums became classics with white South African liberals during apartheid (something unbeknownst to the singer)….Rodriguez has his own tone and melodic chops. Paired with the splashy psych-folk arrangements, they make the case for the long-missing ‘Sugar Man’ as a genuine find.”
From the underground to the mainstream, the press has been ecstatic about Searching For Sugar Man.
“A gifted songwriter with a penchant for lyrical flourishes influenced by Bob Dylan, and echoing Van Morrison’s jazz-rock-soul masterpiece” – Los Angeles Times
“The movie tells the story, but this soundtrack gives us the raw material, the stuff that got people talking. And it’s no wonder the conversation got so loud.” – 7 out of 10 rating, Popmatters
“It’s remarkably timeless in sound and vibe…As an introduction to the music and lyrics of Rodriguez, the compilation is essential; for folks already familiar with the man’s oeuvre, it’s a near-flawless mixtape.” – Blurt