Sixto Rodriguez
Australia discovered him before South Africa.

 I had quite a few of my readers from down under write to me to let me know that THEY knew of Rodriguez for decades.  Not a sudden jump to fame like the "Searching for Sugarman" depicts. But no matter...Rodriguez's life is a great story.. How unaffected this man is by his success...how much he cares for his family, friends, and sharing his profits with them. That is the lesson grasshoppers....

A handful of copies of Rodriguez's 1970 debut LP, Cold Fact, reached Australia months after the album bombed in America. One wound up in the hands of Australian radio DJ Holger Brockman, who began playing "Sugar Man" on 2SM radio in Sydney.

Record stores started selling Cold Fact for upwards of $300, and Blue Goose records eventually released it to huge sales all across the continent. "Every single one of my friends had Cold Fact," says Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst. "We'd play Bruce Springsteen's The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle, Billy Joel's first album and Cold Fact."

By the late 1970s, Australian concert promoters tracked down Rodriguez in Detroit. He arrived in Australia with his two teenage daughters for a 15-date tour in early 1979. "He was just stunned by what we put together for him," promoter Michael Coppel told Billboard at the time.

A live album from the tour was released in 1981, right around the time he came back for a second tour. This time he shared the bill with Midnight Oil at some gigs. "I thought it was the highlight of my career," Rodriguez says today. "I had achieved that epic mission. Not much happened after that. No calls or anything."

He's earning crazy money right now . . .

Rodriguez's rediscovery by South Africans in 1998 allowed him to retire from the construction business. He returned to the country for shows every couple of years, and he also started gigging around Europe. Cold Fact was rereleased on CD and it slowly began finding an audience across the continent, though American success proved elusive.

Rodriguez and his daughters

Searching for Sugar Man, however, changed everything, bringing Rodriguez to a previously unfathomable level of success. He was playing the 190-seat capacity Joe's Pub in New York under a year ago. He soon graduated to the 700-seat Highline Ballroom, and his shows at Town Hall (1,500 seats), the Beacon Theater (2,900 seats) and Radio City Music Hall (6,000 seats) all sold out in minutes. They just booked him at Brooklyn's 18,000-seat Barclays Center.

And that's just in New York City. He has over 30 shows across the world on the books right now, including DETROIT MAY 18.  A recent string of shows in South Africa netted him over $700,000.

. . . and he's giving away most of it.

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