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Sixto Rodriguez
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    (July 10, 1942- )
    Born in Detroit, Michigan
    Folk-rock singer/guitarist
    Recorded the albums 'Cold Fact' (1970) and 'Coming from Reality' (1971)
    Subject of the Oscar-winning documentary 'Searching for Sugar Man' (2012)
    He was named Sixto because he was his parents' sixth child.
    His first single was released under the name 'Rod Riguez.'
    He did not help his career by appearing at a record industry showcase with members of the Brown Berets (the Hispanic equivalent of the Black Panthers) who he invited onstage to lecture about injustice (1970).
    After his first two albums failed to sell in the US, he was dropped by his record company before finishing his third album.
    For over two decades, he left the music biz (except for two tours of Australia) and worked in the construction industry.
    He ran unsuccessfully for Detroit city council three times, mayor twice, and state representative twice.
    Rumors in South Africa claimed he had committed suicide on stage by shooting himself or even by setting himself on fire.
    He was asleep when 'Searching for Sugar Man' won its Oscar.
    He toured Australia co-headlining with Midnight Oil (1981), who cited him as a key influence.
    Several of his songs were adopted as anti-apartheid anthems in South Africa, where Stephen Biko was a fan.
    It was said that the three albums every musically aware South African owned in the early 70s were 'Abbey Road' by the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' and Rodriguez's 'Cold Fact.'
    He was unaware of his fame in South Africa until his daughter discovered a website created by fans looking for information.
    'Searching for Sugar Man' director Malik Bendjelloul said about Rodriguez's first South Africa concert (1998), 'We have a guy who doesn't know that he has any fans. He arrived expecting 20 people and instead there were thousands and thousands. And we have an audience who thinks he is dead. It is Elvis coming back from the dead.'
    The success of the documentary resulted in his career reviving in the US.
    He gives away most of the money he earns from concerts, with his daughter Regan noting, 'He takes great pleasure in giving it away, especially to people who supported him when he wasn't a commercial success.'
    He lost much of his vision to glaucoma.
    He said about his belated success, 'For the music to have survived at all, let alone for anyone to care about it, well, I feel overwhelmed.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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