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This story first appeared in the June 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
The Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man helped launch a brand-new career for its subject, Sixto Rodriguez, 71, who went from obscurity in his native U.S. to playing 5,000-seat arenas like L.A.’s Greek Theatre.
Since the film opened, Rodriguez’s two albums — his 1970 debut, Cold Fact, and 1971’s Coming From Reality — have sold 173,000 and 105,000 copies, respectively. Not all has been rosy, though. Litigation claims his former Sussex label boss Clarence Avant, the music business veteran last seen in the film laughing off the validity of contracts signed 40 years ago, allegedly had him change his song credits on Cold Fact to “Jesus Rodriguez” to circumvent a previous publishing deal.
He still lives in the same rundown Detroit neighborhood and even plays his trusty old, out-of-tune guitar. And his live concerts tend to be spotty affairs; as noted by the Orange County Register‘s recent review of his Greek Theatre show: “It was a performance that felt closer to a public rehearsal than a concert.”
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