Searching for Sugarman Fame
Rodriguez, the legendary singer-songwriter who was the subject of the 2012 Oscar award-winning documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, began performing in bars and clubs around the city of Detroit in the 1960s. It was there that he recorded two studio albums, Cold Fact in 1969 and Coming from Reality in 1971. These compositions 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 mid-1970s, his music gained airplay in Australia and New Zealand and he toured the area finding limited success as an overseas performer. 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. 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, which has given Rodríguez a new measure of fame in the U.S.