Sonntag, 13. August 2023

Sixto Rodriguez 1942 - 2023


Last Monday the sad news arrived that Detroit singer/songwriter Sixto 'Sugar Man' Rodriguez died at the age of 71. I have to admit that I didn't knew his name until I saw a documentary about his life and songs 10 years ago that showed how a musical career died and how he got the recognition he earned. Sixto Díaz Rodríguez, as he was called by his full name and was born in Detroit in 1942 as the son of Mexican immigrants, had a talent for banishing hard social realities into lyrics and catchy melodies, including in "Hate Street Dialogue" or "Rich Folks Hoax." In Detroit, which had experienced riots in 1967 in which the poor and the discriminated against rebelled, he did not have to search for substances for long. But even though, after the discovery by music producers with his two albums, he was regarded as a great hope of folk music, which had opened up in the direction of pop and rock, the success for Rodriguez remained. The label Sussex Records dropped him again, so that the song line "I lost my job two weeks before Christmas" became bitter reality. As it turned out only a few years later, his songs were also connectable in completely different places in the world. In South Africa, allegedly triggered by the import of a Rodriguez record in the luggage of an American woman, an increasing hype about the singer - believed dead at the time - set in motion, and in particular his "Establishment Blues" advanced to the anti-apartheid anthem. 

He had retired from the music business in the early 1970s and kept himself afloat with casual jobs. It was only when his eldest daughter read about it in the then flourishing Internet at the end of the 1990s that he became aware of it. Rodriguez went on tour in South Africa and later in other countries. "Thank you for keeping me alive," he told the audience at one of the concerts in South Africa. Since I got aware of him I often listened to his song and remarkable voice. A very underrated talent.

RIP Sugarman

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