Rodriguez celebrated his 80th birthday on 10th July 2022, and he finally got paid the royalties due to him for almost 50 years of bootlegged albums back in the 70s.
Rodriguez was extremely popular in South Africa and interestingly enought also Australia, having performed various live concerts there in the late 70s and early 80s.
At His Best, compilation album was originally released exclusively in Australia by the record label Blue Goose Music in 1977. South Africans were unaware of his Australian success due to the harsh censorship enacted by the apartheid regime.
Unbeknownst to Rodriguez, bootleg copies of his albums went platinum in South Africa in the late 1970s.
Rodriguez himself didn’t know how famous he was in South Africa, because the money wasn’t exactly rolling in.
In the 1990s, two South Africans, Stephen “Sugar” Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom set out on a mission to find out what happened to the mysterious 1970s icon, and in 2012 the Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man was released.
The film focuses on the mysterious reputation of ‘Sugar Man’ in South Africa and the attempts of two SA music historians to track him down in the mid-1990s. And because of this effort and the success of the film, Rodriguez was able to win a court case for the missing royalties and has been paid his dues.
After decades of living a basic life, Rodriquez has enough money to retire. He still lives in the same modest house in Detroit and continues to live the simple life.
Stephen Segerman, is one of the South Africans who tracked him down. Now friends with Rodriguez, the record shop owner says:
“He’s very philosophical about what happened and I don’t think he’s held on to any anger. He’s a lovely, humble guy and, although success happened very late for him in life, he’s just happy people found out about his music and that he’s now famous around the world.
There was a court case that sorted out his publishing, so he started getting all the money he deserved.”
Happy 80th to Sixto Rodriguez!
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