Last night, my spouse and I watched "Searching for Sugar Man," the 2013 Oscar winning documentary. It is a terrific story and the film is well worth your time.
I first learned about this movie last summer when it was the opening night feature for the Traverse City Film Festival. We were unable to attend then, but I made a note to check out the film later.
If you don't know anything about the movie, it concerns a late 1960s and early 1970s Detroit rock musician named Rodriguez who released a couple of albums that quickly faded into obscurity in the US. However, someone apparently took a copy of one of his albums to South Africa and through word of mouth the record became a hit there. The film strongly implies that the musician's records sold half a million copies in South Africa -- though no one really knew anything about the musician since he did not become popular or famous in the U.S. It is a very strange case of globalization at work.
Much of the film focuses on the efforts of a journalist and some other amateur detectives to track down Rodriguez. Various rumors suggested that he had killed himself on stage -- either by revolver or self-immolation. Indeed, other than liner notes and song credits, those searching for Rodriguez had very few real leads to pursue. They start with the record companies and attempt to follow the money back to someone who would know about the singer-guitarist. The "Sugar Man" in the title refers to one of Rodriguez's songs.
The film provides an interesting account of the conclusion of the search and strongly suggests that someone benefited a great deal from the sale of Rodriguez records in South Africa. However, it was not the musician or his family.
Here's the film's trailer:
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