Oscar winning folk songwriter Rodriguez dies at 81

The singer was heavily influenced by Bob Dylan and other 1960s-'70s folk musicians such as The Band
In Frame: Rodriguez
In Frame: Rodriguez

American songwriter Sixto Diaz Rodriguez, better known as Rodriguez, died on August 8, aged 81. Having started his career in the 1970's, the singer is known for garnering an Academy Award for his 2013 documentary Searching for Sugar Man; but after some brief folk rock hits, he quit the music industry for a quiet life.

The singer's death was later announced on his official website which stated, "It is with great sadness that we at Sugarman.org announce that Sixto Diaz Rodriguez has passed away. 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."

The singer was heavily influenced by Bob Dylan and other 1960s-'70s folk musicians such as The Band and even some other groups that used folk elements in their music as Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull. Early on, Rodriguez seemed a very promising success when his 1970 debut album Cold Fact was released in Los Angeles and exploded in the US. The Detroit born singer was already familiar in his home state for his club and barroom performances, and with the success of 'Cold Fact' Rodriguez was hailed by some to become the next Dylan.

While the singer was unable to repeat his success later with albums such as Coming From Reality, which was released in 1971, the musician had no idea of the success that he had gained outside the US. His two albums, and particularly the song Sugar Man found a massive following throughout apartheid-era South Africa as well as New Zealand and Australia where by some metrics he is estimated to be even more popular than Elvis Presley.

Information on Rodriguez, however, remained scarce as he had since disappeared from the music scene, living a quite life in Michigan. But upon being discovered later, he suddenly gained massive media exposure, being invited to talk shows such as Show with David Letterman. Since his 2013 Oscar winning documentary, the singer's influence has become strong in the folk rock scene.

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