Join 3,433 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


A Most Disgusting Song
May 5, 2009 4:00 PM   Subscribe

Sixto Rodriguez aka Rod Riguez was a platinum-selling urban-poet folk-funk singer in South Africa, a hit across Australia and New Zealand -- and had no idea. He was working on a construction site in his home town of Detroit until his daughter Eva Alicia found a fansite called "The Great Rodriguez Hunt".

Albums:
"Cold Fact" (1970, 2008). 4 stars in Billboard (4/18/70); 8.0 on Pitchfork (9/17/08)
"
Coming From Reality (1973, 2009 - reissued today)

Tour:
May 8 - July 12, 2009 United States and Europe

Songs:
"Inner City Blues", "Sugarman", "Crucify Your Mind", "Forget It" - on Daytrotter
"Heikki's Suburbia Bus Tour"
"Sugarman", "Crucify Your Mind", and "Only Good For Conversation" on his Myspace page
"Sugar man" - on David Holme's 2002 mix album "Come Get It, I Got It"; sampled by Nas on You're Da Man
posted by msalt (22 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Favorite. Neighbor. Ever.

Seriously, he lives on my block. Also, I'm pretty sure MeFi's done this before. But, I'm glad he's getting his props and/or due.
posted by joe lisboa at 4:05 PM on May 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


I love Sugarman. I was just listening to that song the other day.
posted by milarepa at 4:19 PM on May 5, 2009


Yeah, I remember a trip back home to South Africa in 1996, everyone at my dad's university there was into Rodriguez, and after I listened to Cold Fact so was I.
I couldn't believe that I'd never heard this great artist and nor, apparently had anybody else in North America.
posted by Flashman at 4:26 PM on May 5, 2009


Not to be confused with The Sugarman Three, who are pretty good in their own right.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:33 PM on May 5, 2009


Favorite. Neighbor. Ever.

Earth is awesome. How can you not look at that and think: awesome.
posted by zenon at 4:49 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sixto also recorded loads in Jamaica, with folks like Niney The Observer. But that never seems to be mentioned, and I'm curious as to how it came about.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 5:09 PM on May 5, 2009


Earth is awesome. How can you not look at that and think: awesome.

Uh, I don't follow. I first met Rodriguez on one of his daily pilgrimages to the party store around the corner from our block. I knew him as "that guy in the leather jacket in July." But, yes, the Earth rules, if that's what you were getting on about.
posted by joe lisboa at 5:41 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whoa! I just realized you might not have been sarcastic there, zenon. My bad. Around here, we develop thick skins (and thick skulls, evidently.)
posted by joe lisboa at 5:42 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


My comment was pretty thin - so no worries. It's one of those stories that seems just incredible, and makes the world about as big as your neighborhood. And it's super random. And I've listed to a couple of his tracks and it is surprisingly good. And you have a party store in your neighborhood. You see how this is coming together.

Its coming together like this: I'll tell 'em "check this out" and while I am cueing up the track on the machine I'll fill in with some back story - about how he was big in totally random countries on the other sides of the planet, and how he's from Detroit, forgotton but for one superfan and his stuff is only now getting re-released, and that I found here on mefi, where one of the folks is his neighbor.

I like these sorts of stories. My life is richer for them.
posted by zenon at 6:29 PM on May 5, 2009 [4 favorites]


Great story, thanks!
posted by sneebler at 6:38 PM on May 5, 2009


Thanks, zenon. You're nothing but right on.
posted by joe lisboa at 7:16 PM on May 5, 2009


Joe Lisboa -- cool! Ask him who "Only Good For Conversation" is about, if you get a chance. I get the sense that he didn't like her very much.
posted by msalt at 10:21 PM on May 5, 2009


Dee Xtrovert: The only mention in the entire world wide web I could find about Jamaican/reggae Rodriguez recordings is this page on the Sugarman fansite. No mention of him being directly involved, but it looks like he's been covered a lot.

Also, they had this exhaustive list of covers in South Africa and Australia.
posted by msalt at 10:41 PM on May 5, 2009


He did a great gig in Melbourne a couple of years back. Half the crowd were suburban mums who hadn't been to a gig since the 80s. It was weird. In a good way.
posted by pompomtom at 11:17 PM on May 5, 2009


I've had Sugarman for ages without knowing who it was by . . . great song it is too. I've also got a suspicion that my cousin has played bass for Rodriguez on tour. Isn't Earth awesome!
posted by criticalbill at 11:38 PM on May 5, 2009


Native New Zealander. I was once in a band that covered Inner City Blues and Establishment Blues. And lots of people loved those songs. Good times.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:41 AM on May 6, 2009


I've been humming and hawing over whether I should do a Rodriguez FPP for years but always thought it might be a bit too South Africa-centric.

Anyway folks you don't understand how big Rodriguez is her in South Africa. Owning his CD is mandatory for every white suburban high school kid. There isn't a garage band that can't do 'Sugarman' or 'I Wonder', probably the 2nd best known song of his in SA. You can go into any CD shop in the country and I can guarantee you they will have copies.

When I was in high school back in 1996 the legend at the time was that Rodriguez had shot himself on stage. Since his "rediscovery" of actually being alive his done some massive tours through SA.
posted by PenDevil at 2:32 AM on May 6, 2009


I'm confused. His albums were selling and getting airplay and generating lots of royalties (presumably) but he didn't know? Wasn't this money getting back to him? Who got it all then?
posted by dithered at 9:54 AM on May 6, 2009


I meant to see him in Asheville when he was there, but forgot and had a dinner party at my grandmother's house. Bummer.
posted by schyler523 at 10:32 AM on May 6, 2009


His albums were selling and getting airplay and generating lots of royalties (presumably) but he didn't know? Wasn't this money getting back to him?

Apparently not. I forget which site I read this on, but it said he still to this day has not received one Rand in royalties from South Africa. May be different in ANZAC country; he toured Australia in 1979 and 1981 after he started catching on there, and a couple of local reissues were released.
posted by msalt at 10:42 AM on May 6, 2009


Damn, just listened to "Crucify Your Mind" and "Sugar Man" - what awesomely odd orchestrated psyche-folk-pop tunes. Great stuff, thanks; I can't believe I hadn't heard of him before.

No surprise his new album is gonna be released on Light in the Attic, who are doing "Rodriguez week" at their site, with interviews, video of a recent live show at Amoeba, etc.
posted by mediareport at 3:45 PM on May 6, 2009


Dee Xtrovert: The only mention in the entire world wide web I could find about Jamaican/reggae Rodriguez recordings is this page on the Sugarman fansite. No mention of him being directly involved, but it looks like he's been covered a lot.

I have one track on a compilation of Niney The Observer productions called "Halfway Up The Stairs (12" discomix)." The CD it's on is called "Rock On: Greatest Hits From The Observer Label," and the track is credited to Rodriguez (Sixto Diaz Rodriguez) - it's a decent track, but the backing track is very similar to the one on Delroy Wilson's "Better Must Come," which was a big hit, and aside from different lyrics, Sixto doesn't do a whole lot of anything different with it.

I've got another Sixto reggae track on some CD I haven't loaded into my very searchable iTunes thingy yet, and I don't want to go digging through boxes, so . . .

Weirdly, I just did a search (after writing the above) on Niney and Sixto and found a good page, which sounds like your link, but it does talk about the recording I have, and more of his direct involvement.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 6:34 PM on May 6, 2009


« Older "An internal Justice Department inquiry into the c...  |  Marilyn French, author of The ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments