The amazing story of the American musician who was famous in South Africa and Australia, but unknown anywhere else … until the Oscar-winning documentary.
Like many South Africans in the seventies and eighties, Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom were obsessed with the music of Rodriguez, but the man himself was a mystery. Only his name was known, and the fact that he had killed himself on stage. After years of searching in a pre-internet age, the two men found the singer living in seclusion in Detroit. Remarkably, the blue-collar worker had no idea that he had been famous for over twenty-five years in this remote pariah of the world.
In 2006, Swedish filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul set out to find ‘the best story on earth’ and stumbled on this remarkable tale in the Guardian newspaper. He tracked down Segerman and Strydom, and so began his four-year-long quest to make the Oscar-winning documentary, Searching for Sugar Man.
Sugar Man: The Life, Death and Resurrection of Sixto Rodriguez outlines three separate journeys and the obstacles and triumphs that each presented: Rodriguez’s struggle to make a life from music; the odyssey of two fans to find out what had happened to their hero; and Bendjelloul’s pursuit to bring the story to celluloid.
The book is packed with information not included in the film, about Rodriguez’s background, relationships and political activities, his tours to Australia, and the recognition that has finally come to him after the film’s success. It is co-published with Transworld in the UK and Australia, and Swedish, German and Italian translations will be published soon as well.
Craig Bartholomew Strydom is a freelance writer working in advertising. His work has been featured in the London International Awards, the New York Festivals and One Show. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone and Creative Nonfiction, and he was a Susan Atefat Creative Nonfiction Prize finalist in 2011.
Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman is a music writer and co-owner of the iconic record store, Mabu Vinyl. He is also a former quiz kid. Both Strydom and Segerman live in Cape Town.