70-year-old musician learns he's famous overseas
Humble 70s singer-songwriter Rodriguez went from 40 years of obscurity to film and music fame. Bob Simon reports on his journey Sunday, Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m. ET and 7:00 p.m. PT
But he never disappeared in South Africa, where Rodriguez was as big as The Beatles or The Rolling Stones and his anti-establishment message was helping inspire a generation of anti-apartheid protestors. His incredible tale will appear on 60 Minutes in a story reported by Bob Simon to be broadcast Sunday, Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m. ET and 7:00 p.m. PT.
Rodriguez, it turns out, wasn't dead. He was working as a day laborer in Detroit when South African fans tracked him down one day bearing incredible news. They told him his albums, which never sold in the U.S., were the hits of their youth. To a generation of South Africans, he was as famous and meaningful as Bob Dylan. And Rodriguez never knew it. Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul heard Rodriguez's story, which led to a film that headlined at the Sundance Film Festival. This spawned a resurrection tour that's bringing new fans to his sold-out concerts and putting good money in Rodriguez's pockets for the first time in his life.
All this newfound success may not have sunken in just yet. Asked by Simon what he thinks about being a superstar, the humble musician replies, "Oh, no...That's nice of you to say that. It's superlatives they use. But...we're having a good year, of course." He's happy his music was able to speak to so many South Africans and thrilled that he's becoming popular in the U.S. for the first time. The money, though, he may not care too much about, says his daughter, Regan. "He's a giving person with money. He's not a selfish person," she says. "I think it could benefit him in a way of just being able to give it away. That alone will make him feel so good."
None of this would have been possible without Bendjelloul's film, "Searching for Sugar Man." The documentary, released by Sony Pictures Classics, is introducing Rodriguez' music to a new generation of fans. Why didn't Americans recognize that talent when his two albums came out 40 years ago? "I just wasn't meant to be so lucky then," he laughs. "You know. I think maybe that's it," he tells Simon.
60 Minutes Overtime Staff