by Chad Campbell, senior producer
This is originally from August 2012. Director Malik Bendjelloul was found dead on Tuesday at the age of 36. Click here for their full conversation with Bob.
In 1970, a Mexican-American folk singer named Rodriguez released his debut album and hardly anyone noticed. The few critics who heard Cold Fact liked it, but the record did not sell. The same was true a year later when Rodriguez followed that commercial flop with another album called Coming from Reality. Following the disappointments, Rodriguez decided to return to his reality - a modest life of hard work doing construction and demolition in Detroit. Amazingly, his music somehow made it to South Africa where the songs became an inspirational soundtrack for those deciding to stand up against Apartheid. In South Africa, Rodriguez became as well-known as Jimi Hendrix and Elvis Presley — and as far as these new fans knew, Rodriguez was just as dead. Rumors swirled that he had killed himself on stage and in the pre-Internet age, there was no way to track down the story of a musician who had barely left a mark before totally disappearing from the music scene. The new documentary “Searching for Sugar Man” by Malik Bendjelloul untangles the tale of Rodriguez and how his South African fans eventually found him and invited him to perform a series of concerts for his only fans halfway around the world. There is also a wonderful soundtrack available that provides a good sampling of his music. The documentary is in limited release now and opens wider in the coming weeks. Click here for a list of theaters.