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"Sugarman won't you hurry...'cause I'm tired of these scenes" (contd.)


Was Rodriguez alive? Was he black? Was he famous? South Africa was looking for answers. They wanted to get closer to their hero. The elite Africans even had his albums shelved adjacent to The Beatles. 

Not Dead, not black and not so famous Rodriguez was living his modest life in Detroit, unaware that his songs, his words had become the voice of a revolution.

Stephen Sugar Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom from Capetown connected because both of them were religiously searching for Sugarman. Sugar was running an online forum dedicated to Rodriguez. It was rumoured in South Africa that Rodriguez had shot himself during a concert in America.

After a year long search and getting closer to the verge of giving up, someone replied on their website, someone who was really close to Rodriguez.It was Sixto Diaz Rodriguez’s daughter, Eva. Her one answer online changed everything for the hopeful fans. As quoted by Eva in October, 1997 -

My father is in great health physically and mentally. In my eyes, he is ageless, creative, strong, intellectual and different. He has kept his hand and his mind on the music, living a surprisingly average and somewhat alternative life. He has raised three daughters, labored, got an education, ran for political office and pays dues and debts like the rest of us.”

They had finally found Sugarman and he was alive! Sugar and Craig half believing to what just happened, contacted Eva that very minute. Later that night Rodriguez gave a call to Stephen Segermen. Imagine, the one person you have been looking for hard and long, calls you in the middle of the night; beyond reality.

After he was discovered by these two now famous fans, his South African Tour Concerts were arranged. The people in South Africa who had no clue about Rodriguez being found and alive, only half believed it. And then they saw him, in the flesh, standing on the stage with his guitar and singing his songs in the very voice that had been playing on their stereo's, over and over again. It really was him. 

On 6th March 1998, when Sixto Rodriguez walks out onto the stage at the Bellville Velodrome for his first South African performance, a 25-year-old mystery will end and a new story will begin. This will be the answer that, makes the questions disappear”. - Stephen Sugar Segermen

The elation his South African fans felt was truly reciprocated by Rodriguez. After a long time and much awaiting, Sugarman was where he truly belonged. Maybe his luck was never behind on time but just waiting in another place, on another continent, amongst different people.

Rodriguez’s albums ‘Coming from reality’ and ‘Cold Fact’ were re-released in 2009 by Light In The Attic Records. In 2012, when his biographical film “Searching for Sugarman” released, Rodriguez experienced prominent media coverage and fan interest in the USA. Rodriguez was never impatient, not lost and not cursing God during his setback. He continued to live, love and bring up a family with three children, who respected and learned about life from their father.

I remember watching the documentary and hearing one of his daughters say that their play day included visiting art museums and learning about great artists because Rodriguez believed in showing them the bigger picture, a bigger world. Post his success and to this day, Rodriguez continues to live his more than modest life in Michigan, without materialistic luxuries and privileges.

As I pen this down, I can’t begin to comprehend how much someone you have never known, never met, can inspire you and light a fire inside you with his music, his words, his art. You see it and you feel it, with nothing left to say, just a thought that someone has the same struggle as you and he is fighting through it. Suddenly, in the midst of losing total control, you find HOPE.

As Rick Emmerson said,  What he’s demonstrated very clearly is that you have a choice. He took all that torment, all that agony, all that confusion and pain and he transformed it in to something beautiful. He’s like the silkworm, you know, you know you take this raw material and you transform it, and you come out with something that wasn’t there before, something beautiful, something perhaps transcendent something perhaps eternal, in so far as he does that I think he is representative of the human spirit of what’s possible that you have a choice, this has been my choice, to give you “Sugar Man”, now have you done that…ask yourself ?"