Sixto Diaz Rodriguez was thought to be dead...until last year.
He was born in the inner city of Detroit, Michigan, to immigrant parents. And although he grew up as an intellectual, earning a philosophy degree from a local university, his true love was music. After signing with Sussex Records, Rodriguez recorded two albums, but to the surprise of many industry executives, he sold very few copies. While Rodriguez was in the process of completing his third album, his record company dropped him as a client and he decided to quit music altogether. He returned to Detroit, Michigan, where he worked in manual labor and remained very poor.
However, while Rodriguez was barely earning a living as a laborer, he music was starting to gain popularity in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. His music became especially well-known and loved in South Africa and many of this songs were used as anti-apartheid anthems. When his compilation CD was released in South Africa, it went platinum, but even his biggest fans had little knowledge of his life. It was rumored that Rodriguez had killed himself onstage after being heckled.
Thankfully, this rumor was far from true, and Rodriguez was recently re-discovered by a group of South African fans who contacted him through his daughter. Rodriguez has since received the recognition he deserves, and Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul released the 2012 documentary "Searching For Sugar man," which details the journey to find the elusive Rodriguez. On January 13th, 2013, the documentary was nominated for an academy award.
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Rodriguez's music is just as inspirational as his story: he is nothing less than a poet and many of his songs are political comments on the hardships faced by the inner city poor. Take a listen below: