DVD review | Searching for Sugar Man – Stirring music documentary resurrects soulful Seventies singer

Back at the turn of the 1960s/70s, singer-songwriter Rodriguez was supposed to have been the next Bob Dylan. Yet after making a couple of critically acclaimed albums, he completely vanished from the rock-music map. Fascinating music documentary Searching for Sugar Man tells the remarkable story of what happened next. Unbeknown to anyone in the States, including music producers Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore, the men who discovered the Mexican-American singer in a smoky Detroit bar in 1968, Rodriguez’ music had struck a chord with liberal whites in apartheid-era South Africa. There he was hugely popular, his soulful folk-rock LPs Cold Fact and Coming from Reality outselling Elvis. But no one in South Africa knew anything about their idol and bizarre rumours about his fate circulated. Decades later, in the mid-1990s, two fans, made it their mission to discover the truth. Swedish documentary maker Malik Bendjelloul’s artfully constructed film turns their quest into an intriguing and suspenseful mystery. Thanks to his film’s acclaimed cinema release last summer, most of the DVD’s potential viewers will no longer be in the dark (hint: a certain veteran singer played a trio of sold-out gigs at London’s Roundhouse last month; I was there), but even if you do know how things turned out Rodriguez’s story remains stirring, surprising and deeply touching.

Released on Blu-ray & DVD by StudioCanal Home Entertainment on Thursday 27th December.

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