About Rodriguez

When folk singer Sixto Rodriguez emerged into global consciousness in the early 2010s, he embodied something rare for an artist in the 21st century—mystery. Born in 1942, Rodriguez grew up in working-class Detroit. After the orchestral dreaminess of 1967 single “I’ll Slip Away,” he released two commercially unsuccessful (at the time) records—1970’s Cold Fact and 1971’s Coming from Reality—and was dropped by his label, prompting him to ditch music, earn a philosophy degree, and start working in construction. But from the mid-’70s on, he became a phenomenon among listeners in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand who were drawn to his songwriting, which confronted injustice (“This Is Not a Song, It’s an Outburst: Or, the Establishment Blues”), painted scenes of midcentury Motor City (“Inner City Blues”), and evoked sentimentality (“I Think of You”). Following the 2012 documentary Searching for Sugar Man—in which two fans seek to find out whether rumors of the artist’s death are true—Rodriguez finally enjoyed a much-deserved explosion of commercial and critical success in his home country. He died in August 2023 at the age of 81.

Detroit, MI, United States
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