Can you imagine being famous without even knowing, being an icon on the other side of the world, having your album standing next to Simon & Garfunkel and The Beatles and being even more famous than Elvis? And can you also imagine your fans believing you’re dead and only years later discovering the truth? Well the Mexican-American musician Sixto Diaz Rodriguez probably couldn’t have imagined all this but then a website changed his whole life. Read the story of a ‘no-body’ from America who become an Icon in South Africa and whose story is now preserved for the public to see at the Mabu Vinyl in Cape Town.
Above: The musician Sixto Rodriguez
Rodriguez is an American born musician who never became famous in his own town, let alone by his own country. However, his record reached the South African Shores through a girl bringing the record home to her boyfriend. The album was quickly copied from tape to tape and soon Rodriguez was the norm in white South African households. ‘Anti-establishment’ was the theme in each song and these songs were the anthems to most White South Africans living in the 70’s who detested the Apartheid laws.
Eventually a rumor was spread that Rodriguez was dead, but two South Africans who refused to believe this began searching for him. Eventually the daughter of Rodriguez, Eva, stumbled across a website of these 2 undying fans and contacted them to inform them of Rodriguez’s good health. Very soon this old, locally unpopular, now construction worker was flown to South Africa where he performed a sold out concert in front of 32,000 fans. This mind blowing experience inspired Rodriguez to return multiple times to play in sold out concerts across the country.
Above: Sixto Rodriguez playing in South Africa in February 2013
Testimony has been made to his life by Local South Africans, you can visit Mabu Vinyl in Gardens which holds an historical museum to Rodrigues and was displayed in a recent film of his life, ‘Searching for Sugar Man’. Here you can find the whole story of how this one man changed the history of South Africa for generations to come. This man who was, and still is a construction worker in America.
Above: The record store Mabu Vinyl in Cape Town