They’re really searching for Sixto Rodriguez in the Land Down Under…
The 72-year-old Mexican American folk musician, who returned to the spotlight after being the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man, has landed three albums in the top 30 of this week’s Australian sales chart.
Rodriguez’s chart surge has been fuelled by the announcement of his upcoming national tour and the recent free-to-air television broadcast of his award-winning documentary.
The first Rodriguez album Cold Fact (Inertia) from 1969 is currently at No. 11, outpacing its previous chart peak of No. 23. Also on this week’s ARIA Albums chart, the Searching for Sugar Man (Legacy/Sony) soundtrack is at No. 22 and his second and final studio set Coming From Reality from 1971 (Light in the Attic/Inertia) is at No. 25. The chart is led this week by Ariana Grande’s My Everything.
Searching For Sugar Man tells the story of how the protest singer from Detroit was all but forgotten in his homeland, but an unlikely legend in South Africa, where his political and personal themes resonated with the blossoming anti-apartheid movement (he cut two albums of soulful folk rock for Sussex, label home to Bill Withers). The film tracks the search for Rodriguez, a journey undertaken by a few fans and journalists in South Africa who cherished his music. It won the Oscar in 2013 for best documentary, and Rodriguez is now enjoying the international attention that eluded him in his prime.
The film aired August 24 on the SBS channel as a warm-up for Rodriguez’ Australian tour. He’ll visit Australia to play Brisbane (Convention Centre, Oct. 19), Sydney (Sydney Opera House, Oct. 21 and 23), Melbourne (Palais Theatre, Oct. 25 and 26), Adelaide (AEC Theatre, Oct. 29) and Perth (Kings Park & Botanic Garden, Nov. 7).
The singer-songwriter’s cult status has been assured in Australia since the mid-1970s, when his music gained airplay on Sydney AM radio station 2JJ (the precursor to Triple J) and he toured here finding limited success. He first performed Down Under in 1979, returning in 1981 when Midnight Oil joined him for some shows. He was last in Australia for 2013’s Bluesfest.