Searching for Sugar Man
is a documentary
about Sixto Rodriguez (more commonly known as simply Rodriguez
), a Detroit Folk Rock Singer Songwriter
who was so good that he got a record contract while he was only a small time pub singer. It is the winner for the 2012 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
However, the two albums he recorded went nowhere, Rodriguez's contract was dropped, and it seemed his career was over. Unbeknownst to him, his albums became underground mega-hits in South Africa
where his soulful songs struck a powerful chord there.
Long rumored to be dead by suicide, some South African fans decided to search out the facts about Rodriguez's fate and finally tracked down his producers. Upon learning to their astonishment that their idol was alive and well in Detroit, they finally got Rodriguez to contact them and a concert was arranged in South Africa. What followed was a comeback that was more awesome than anyone anticipated.
- Big Bad: Clarence Avant, the head of Rodriguez's label, is the closest thing the movie has to one. Beyond underdistributing his albums, he also withheld royalty checks from him.
- It's not clear he withheld any royalties. Since his label was out of business, and South Africa was a relatively small, isolated market, he was probably as unaware as Rodriguez.
- Dead Artists Are Better: His star grew all the more in South Africa with the rumors he was dead, but when discovered alive and ready to perform again, he became the answer to what would have happened if Elvis Presley was found alive.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Despite his disappointment with his music, Rodriguez never lost his spirits and went on with his life with some peace, only to learn decades later that he was a star after all and the whole world will appreciate him.
- Easy Come, Easy Go: While Rodriguez was naturally disappointed about his albums bombing in the U.S. (and, unmentioned in the film, his later success in Australia and New Zealand was really short lived), he was able to shake it off and move with this in mind. This of course makes the news of his superstardom in South Africa an even more pleasant surprise.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Probably the most extreme example in music history.
- As the movie neglects to mention, and this Cracked article points out, Rodriguez was also big in Australia and toured there multiple times.