My husband, being South African, was asked about a year ago what he thought about the award-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man and the music of Sixto Rodriguez. Not having heard of either and puzzled by the question the next day he searched the Internet in order to listen to a few tracks. The impact of hearing the first few songs was both incredible and very emotional – The Poff was immediately transported back to the Johannesburg of his youth. It seems that every South African, of a certain age, grew up with Rodriguez providing the background music to their lives. Although it seemed that every shop, bar and school friend’s parents played his music nobody knew who this American singer-songwriter was. The music being played was probably via bootleg tapes (South Africa, then an Apartheid state, was affected by foreign embargos that kept it culturally, as well as financially, isolated) and The Poff said that all his contemporaries knew about the musician was that he was dead, rumoured to having committed suicide on stage.
Rodriguez is alive and well and at the ripe age of 71 is now enjoying the life of a musician, having been unaware, for over 20 years, of his huge popularity in South Africa. This week The Poff and I are going to hear him play in London – us, and I suspect, a lot of Saffies.
Fact is often stranger than fiction and if you want proof of that statement I can recommend the film Searching for Sugar Man.
For now – KnitNell