Sixto Diaz Rodriguez dies aged 81

Musician Sixto Diaz Rodriguez has died, it has been announced.

The singer was best known as the subject of the 2012 documentary Searching For Sugar Man.

His reps announced the news on Wednesday in a statement posted on his website, which said: ‘It is with great sadness that we at announce that Sixto Diaz Rodriguez has passed away earlier today.

‘We extend our most heartfelt condolences to his daughters – Sandra, Eva and Regan – and to all his family. Rodriguez was 81 years old.

‘May His Dear Soul Rest In Peace.’

His death was also confirmed by Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman, who runs and told News24: ‘We’ve confirmed with his daughter, Sandra, that he passed away yesterday, August 8, at 17:30 Detroit time.’

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Rodriguez, who hailed from Detroit, rose to prominence with the documentary, which followed how the folk singer propelled to stardom decades after he released two albums in the early 1970s.

Those two albums – Cold Fact, released at the turn of the decade, and 1971’s Coming From Reality, failed to make a splash commercially in the US and the singer believed it was the end of his musical career.

With music behind him, Rodriguez settled in a Detroit house which he bought for just $50 – the equivalent of $257 today.

He went on to work in the demolition and production line industries but music would come calling again at a later date.

In 1979, Rodriguez was approached about performing in Australia, reviving his long-lost music career. Despite his lack of presence at home, the singer’s music gained traction in other countries around the world including New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

It was during his comeback in the 70s and 80s that the documentary Dead Men Don’t Tour: Rodriguez In South Africa was filmed, referring to the long-standing rumour that he had died by suicide during a concert years earlier.

Rodriguez’s legend accelerated when he became the subject of the 2012 documentary, Searching For Sugar Man, which followed two South African fans as they embarked on a mission to discover whether the rumours about the singer’s death were true or not.

It was a huge success and won the Bafta for best documentary and the Oscar for best documentary feature the following year.

Rodriguez enjoyed his newfound fame and made an appearance at Glastonbury festival, while his music was sampled by the likes of Nas and featured in Heath Ledger’s 2006 movie Candy.

Aside from music, Rodriguez cared passionately for the lives of Detroit’s inner-city residents and made several attempts to run for office, including the Michigan House of Representatives in 2000.

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