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Tom Tangney

'Searching for Sugar Man' star Rodriguez takes to the Seattle stage

Mabu Vinyl launched the "Search for Sugar Man" campaign - I of course visited it on my recent trip to South Africa. (Paige Tangney Photo)
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A lot has happened since I first reported on Rodriguez and the documentary "Searching For Sugar Man." Not the least of which was winning the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.

"Oh boy," said filmmaker Malik Bendloul in his acceptance speech. "Thanks so much to the Academy, (they're) very, very kind. Thanks to the greatest singer ever, Rodriguez."

First-time Swedish filmmaker Bendeloul was accepting the Oscar from Ben Affleck and singing the praises of his star subject Rodriguez. Typical of his humble nature, the Mexican-American singer chose not to attend the Oscars so as not to deflect attention away from the the filmmaker. Not only that, he didn't even watch the telecast since he has no TV in the modest Detroit home he's lived in for 40 years.

But that's okay - he's already lived a kind of fairy tale life.

As detailed in the documentary, Rodriguez launched his career with high hopes in the late 60's. Often compared to Bob Dylan at the time, his two albums were critical hits but commercial flops. By 1972, he just disappeared from the scene. Rumors of his death seemed to complete his sorry tale.

But unbeknownst to anyone here in the states, he was a huge hit in South Africa! He was as popular as Elvis, The Beatles, and yes, Bob Dylan in apartheid-era South Africa. And he didn't have a clue - and never saw a dime of profit.

"Searching for Sugar Man" relates the journey of a Capetown record store manager who set out to discover what ever happened to this great figure in rock history that no one in America even knew existed.

Thanks to the success of the film, Rodriguez - now 70 years old -has been touring non-stop this past year in bigger and bigger venues - his concert at Radio City Music Hall sold out in minutes and he's just been booked into the 18,000 seat Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Catch him tonight (Thursday) at the Neptune or watch "Searching for Sugar Man" which just recently came out on DVD. I can practically guarantee if you do either, you'll be buying the soundtrack soon after.

Read more:
Live in studio: Meet the star of 'Searching for Sugar Man'
'Searching for Sugar Man' star featured on '60 Minutes'

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About the Author


Tom Tangney is the co-host of The Tom and Curley Show on KIRO Radio and resident enthusiast of...everything. As the film and media critic on the Morning News on KIRO Radio, he espouses his love for books, movies, TV, art, pop culture, politics, sports, and Husky football.

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