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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Rodriguez, The Subject Of Oscar-Winning Documentary 'Searching For Sugar Man' Has Died Aged 81

By Stevie Connor.

Enigmatic singer-songwriter Sixto Diaz Rodriguez — commonly referred to as just Rodriguez — has died at 81. The Detroit musician whose slow boil rise to international acclaim was chronicled in the Oscar-winning 2012 documentary 'Searching for Sugar Man', passed away on Tuesday. A message posted to the official website of Rodriguez stated that the Detroit singer-songwriter had passed;

"It is with great sadness that we at announce that Sixto Diaz Rodriguez has passed away earlier today. We extend our most heartfelt condolences to his daughters – Sandra, Eva and Regan – and to all his family. Rodriguez was 81 years old. May His Dear Soul Rest In Peace"

Though his career was initially met with little fanfare in the United States, he found success in South Africa, Australia (touring the country twice in his earlier career), and New Zealand.

Unbeknownst to him for decades, his music was extremely successful and influential in South Africa, where he is believed to have sold more records than Elvis Presley, as well as other countries in southern Africa. Information about him was scarce, and it was incorrectly rumoured there that he had died by suicide shortly after releasing his second album.

In the 1990s, determined South African fans managed to find and contact Rodriguez, which led to an unexpected revival of his musical career. This was told in the 2012 Academy Award-winning documentary film 'Searching for Sugar Man' and helped give Rodriguez a measure of fame in his home country. In May 2013, Rodriguez received an honourary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from his alma mater, Wayne State University, in Detroit.

Rodriguez lived in Detroit's historic Woodbridge neighbourhood, through which he is seen walking in 'Searching for Sugar Man'. He lived a simple life, possessing no telephone, and occasionally visited bars in the Cass Corridor section of Detroit near Woodbridge and Midtown, such as the Old Miami pub, where he performed live concerts for small local crowds.


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