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Rodríguez

Data updated on 2024-07-21 18:54:59 UTC
Few artists have become as mythical or taken a more circuitous route to fame than Detroit, Michigan's Sixto Rodriguez. A commercial nonentity in the late '60s, Rodriguez chronicled personal apocalypses and a cratering Detroit with hard-hitting, Dylan-inspired imagery over richly embroidered folk-funk. After quitting the business for a day job, the singer/songwriter gained fame in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, where his debut masterpiece, Cold Fact, went multi-platinum. Finally unearthed in the late '90s, Rodriguez saw his discography reissued to ringing (and decidedly deserved) critical plaudits. This renaissance was a result of the 2012 Academy Award-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man and its companion soundtrack, which followed two of Rodriguez fans in their quest to discover the fate of one of their most beloved artists. As a result, Rodriguez's music reached untold numbers of new listeners, and he toured sporadically before his death in 2023.

Born in Detroit in 1942, Sixto Diaz Rodriguez came from a working-class background and dropped out of high school at the age of 16. Dividing his time between hanging around the university campus and playing assorted unconventional clubs and bars, he was introduced to Impact's Harry Balk, which led to the recording of his first single, "I'll Slip Away," in 1967. When Balk took off for a career as a creative director at Motown, session players and ardent Rodriguez supporters Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore put him under the direction of Clarence Avant. About to set up his Sussex label, the latter was genuinely impressed with the artist's take on Detroit street life and supplied Theo-Coff Productions with sufficient means to cut an album's worth of material. Naturally, Theodore and Coffey took up keyboard and guitar duties, in addition to employing second-wave Motown Funk Brothers for a rhythm section. Recording Rodriguez separately, they matched his voice and acoustic guitar afterwards to a sonic palette of various orchestrations and psychedelic effects. Being Sussex's first release, the resulting Cold Fact was a stone-cold folk-rock classic with an otherworldly feel to it.

Though industry-wise it was met with positive reviews, commercially the album gathered only dust. Theories as to why it didn't catch on in the climate of socially conscientious albums like Cloud Nine and What's Going On range from either not being played by underground radio and thus not meeting its intended public, or insufficient marketing by Buddah, with whom Sussex had a promotion and distribution deal. Though subsequently concentrating on Bill Withers, Avant offered Rodriguez the chance to record a follow-up in London with Steve Rowland (renowned for Family Dog's "Sympathy"). When 1971's Coming from Reality met a similar fate as its predecessor, the artist left the music business to enroll at university when he wasn't working construction to support his family and wasn't heard from again until 1979, when, much to his surprise,

he was requested to do some small theater shows Down Under, coinciding with the chart success of Australian re-releases of his albums. Fast forward to 1998, when Rodriguez was even more amazed to find vast amounts of mainstream acceptance. Apparently, some South African fans had invested quite a bit of effort in tracking down their long-lost hero. Their excitement at finding him alive and well convinced Rodriguez to play arena-sized venues.

At last, in the 21st century, his genius was acknowledged across America and mainland Europe, his popularity re-sparked by hip-hop-loving-crate diggers like David Holmes, whose mix compilation Come Get It, I Got It used Cold Fact's opening shot "Sugar Man" for its own eclectic musical journey. In 2008, Cold Fact became more easily available through a lovingly annotated re-release, followed in 2009 by Coming from Reality. To celebrate his umpteenth rediscovery, Rodriguez embarked upon a world tour, meeting old fans and a whole new generation of admirers. This renaissance was spurred by the 2012 Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man and its compilation soundtrack. The success of the film earned Rodriguez a significant audience in the United States, and he began touring in North America, playing the songs he recorded in the '70s for a new and enthusiastic audience. Despite having a fan base in the United States, Rodriguez continued to live a quiet life in Detroit. He passed away on August 8, 2023, at the age of 81. ~ Quint Kik, Rovi

Genres

: folk folk rock

Total plays

688.6 million
Updated on 2024-07-21

Monthly listeners

1,849,209

Followers

561,759

Top Cities

  1. France
    44,706 listeners
  2. Australia
    40,860 listeners
  3. United Kingdom
    39,749 listeners
  4. Australia
    31,816 listeners
  5. Germany
    26,175 listeners

Related artists

Most popular tracks

Track Plays Duration Release date
Sugar Man
Sugar Man
74,459,210 3:50 1970-03-05
Crucify Your Mind
Crucify Your Mind
72,577,044 2:32 1970-03-05
I Wonder
I Wonder
66,001,962 2:35 1970-03-05
I Think Of You
I Think Of You
39,358,739 3:26 1971-01-01
I Think of You
I Think of You
33,918,903 3:26 1971-11-23
Hate Street Dialogue
Hate Street Dialogue
31,574,542 2:34 1970-03-05
Cause
Cause
25,128,783 5:29 1971-01-01
Cause
Cause
22,782,441 5:30 1971-11-23
Like Janis
Like Janis
22,232,488 2:37 1970-03-05
Hate Street Dialogue
Hate Street Dialogue
21,594,787 4:19 2015-01-19
Inner City Blues
Inner City Blues
19,239,056 3:28 1970-03-05
Rich Folks Hoax
Rich Folks Hoax
19,200,258 3:06 1970-03-05
This Is Not a Song, It's an Outburst: Or, the Establishment Blues
This Is Not a Song, It's an Outburst: Or, the Establishment Blues
18,183,529 2:07 1970-03-05
Jane S. Piddy
Jane S. Piddy
14,896,935 3:00 1970-03-05
Ecuador
Ecuador
14,378,644 5:55 1997-06-30
Sandrevan Lullaby - Lifestyles
Sandrevan Lullaby - Lifestyles
12,829,511 6:39 1971-01-01
Sandrevan Lullaby: Lifestyles
Sandrevan Lullaby: Lifestyles
11,921,374 6:37 1971-11-23
Forget It
Forget It
11,850,925 1:50 1970-03-05
Can't Get Away
Can't Get Away
10,968,696 3:56 2012-07-24
Can't Get Away
Can't Get Away
10,749,114 3:57 1971-11-23
A Most Disgusting Song
A Most Disgusting Song
9,743,498 4:48 1971-01-01
A Most Disgusting Song
A Most Disgusting Song
9,312,845 4:49 1971-11-23
Climb Up On My Music
Climb Up On My Music
8,788,694 4:54 1971-01-01
Street Boy
Street Boy
8,224,286 3:47 2012-07-24
Street Boy
Street Boy
8,018,329 3:48 1971-11-23
I'll Slip Away
I'll Slip Away
8,001,382 2:52 2012-07-24
Climb Up on My Music
Climb Up on My Music
7,688,522 4:54 1971-11-23
I'll Slip Away
I'll Slip Away
7,683,457 2:53 1971-11-23
The Wanderings of The Avener - Continuous Mix
The Wanderings of The Avener - Continuous Mix
6,969,710 54:11 2015-01-19
Only Good For Conversation
Only Good For Conversation
6,815,322 2:24 1970-03-05
Silver Words?
Silver Words?
6,327,050 2:05 1971-01-01
Bora Bora
Bora Bora
5,898,555 3:47 2009-06-05
Silver Words?
Silver Words?
4,554,186 2:05 1971-11-23
Gommorah (A Nursery Rhyme)
Gommorah (A Nursery Rhyme)
4,533,419 2:21 1970-03-05
Halfway Up The Stairs
Halfway Up The Stairs
3,593,224 2:28 1971-01-01
Heikki's Suburbia Bus Tour
Heikki's Suburbia Bus Tour
3,582,029 3:23 1971-01-01
To Whom It May Concern
To Whom It May Concern
3,549,300 3:22 1971-01-01
Heikki's Suburbia Bus Tour
Heikki's Suburbia Bus Tour
3,295,959 3:23 1971-11-23
It Started Out So Nice
It Started Out So Nice
3,284,766 4:01 1971-01-01
To Whom It May Concern
To Whom It May Concern
3,187,927 3:22 1971-11-23
It Started Out So Nice
It Started Out So Nice
2,997,786 4:01 1971-11-23
Halfway Up the Stairs
Halfway Up the Stairs
2,917,992 2:28 1971-11-23
I'm Gonna Live Till I Die - Recorded Live at The Triple Door, Seattle, June 23, 2009
I'm Gonna Live Till I Die - Recorded Live at The Triple Door, Seattle, June 23, 2009
2,534,118 3:33 2010-01-01
Inner City Blues - Recorded Live on the Streets of Paris, June 12, 2009
Inner City Blues - Recorded Live on the Streets of Paris, June 12, 2009
1,001,021 3:29 2010-01-01
Sugar Man
Sugar Man
555,411 4:45 2016-11-18
I Wonder
I Wonder
435,803 3:21 2016-11-18
Somebody to Love
Somebody to Love
258,497 4:01 2016-11-18
Just One of Those Things
Just One of Those Things
224,640 3:03 2016-11-18
Learnin' the Blues
Learnin' the Blues
221,403 2:32 2016-11-18
Climb Up On My Music
Climb Up On My Music
133,524 5:58 2016-11-18
Inner City Blues
Inner City Blues
127,900 3:28 2016-11-18
Rich Folks Hoax
Rich Folks Hoax
116,310 3:03 2016-11-18
Street Boy
Street Boy
116,265 3:14 2016-11-18
I'm Gonna Live Till I Die
I'm Gonna Live Till I Die
89,747 3:58 2016-11-18
La Cumparsita
La Cumparsita
17,212 3:43 2011-01-01

New releases

Searching For Sugar Man (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Searching For Sugar Man (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
2012-07-24
[Clarence Avant Catalog]
Record Store Day 7"
Record Store Day 7"
2010-04-17
[Light In The Attic]
Coming From Reality
Coming From Reality
1971-01-01
[Clarence Avant Catalog]
Cold Fact
Cold Fact
1970-03-05
[Clarence Avant Catalog]