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 but commercially unsuccessful 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 renowned 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, his outsider stance chiming with their own anti-establishment sentiments.
There he was hugely popular, his soulful folk-rock gems Cold Fact and Coming from Reality outselling Elvis. But no one in South Africa knew anything about their idol. Bizarre rumours about his fate circulated. He had killed himself live on stage – setting fire to himself in one version, shooting himself in another.
Decades later, in the mid-1990s, two fans, record shop owner Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman and journalist Craig Bartholomew, made it their mission to discover the truth.
It’s probably best not to know how things turned out before you watch Swedish documentary maker Malik Bendjelloul’s artfully constructed film. Suffice to say that the story that unfolds is stirring, surprising and deeply touching.
On release in key cities from Friday 27th July.
To activate the sound in the trailer: hold your cursor over the screen to reveal the control panel and click on the volume control in the bottom right-hand corner.