The Star, 17th February, 1998
Sugar Man Returns
by Peter Feldman
American cult figure Rodriguez, whose voice of protest has echoed around American campuses for two decades, is alive and well and will be performing in South Africa in March. This folk-rock performer, known for such hits as Sugar Man, I Wonder, Crucify Your Mind and Establishment Blues, has come out of a 15-year hibernation to lay to rest rumours that have been circulating for years that he had either shot himself on stage or died from a heroin overdose.
Backing Rodriguez will be South Africa rock heroes Big Sky whose single Wasted is currently enjoying airtime. Rodriguez will perform at the Standard Bank Arena on March 9 and 10, the Bellville Velodrome in Cape Town on March 6 and 7, and the Village Green in Durban on March 13 and 14. Ticket prices range from R90 to R150, excluding a Computicket service fee.
South Africans took to Rodriguez like hot chewing gum to a takkie and his album Cold Fact became a turntable monster hit. Though it achieved mainstream appeal, the subject matter was anything but and tackled issues such as doing hard drugs, misogyny and the depression of inner city living. All three of his albums (Cold Fact, After The Fact and Rodriguez's Greatest Hits [actually The Best Of Rodriguez]), were excellent sellers according to Steve Harris of Polygram, Rodriguez's Johannesburg record company.
The musician was recently discovered performing in the backwoods of America by expatriate South African agent Selwyn Miller, who phoned a surprised Harris with the news. RPM Records had originally licenced Cold Fact from Avante Garde Enterprises and surprisingly his music and his hardcore cynicism hit the right vein. RPM then re-issued his first album, Coming From Reality, under the title After The Fact. Back in America, though, Rodriguez's original record company floundered and was sold off and RPM's licensing deal expired.
The advent of CDs triggered a huge demand in South Africa for catalogue items, especially work such as Cold Fact, which had reached cult status here.