Sugar Man Singer Sixto Rodriguez Dies at 81

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Sixto Rodriguez, the musician and subject of the documentary Searching for Sugar Man, has died aged 81.

Legendary singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez has died at the age of 81.

The musician is said to have been ill in the months before his death after suffering a stroke. His death was confirmed in a statement shared on his website.

Rodriguez launched his career in 1967 but initially struggled to find success in his native US and was ultimately dropped by his record label.

According to Rodriguez's daughter, Sandra, he died on Tuesday night. Stephen "Sugar" Segerman, who runs Rodriguez's blog said the singer "wasn't in great shape" in the run up to his death.

Rodriguez celebrated his birthday just last month with a gathering of his fellow musicians in Detroit. Speaking to News24, Stephen said the celebration ended in a "massive tribute concert".

Rodriguez, who was the subject of Academy Award-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man, launched his music career in 1967, performing in bars and clubs around Detroit.

His first two studio albums Cold Fact and Coming From Reality went relatively unnoticed in America, but he found huge success overseas. In South Africa, he's believed to have sold more records than Elvis Presley.

Rodriguez was brought to South Africa by the two fans in 1998, where he was greeted as a hero. He played six sold-out concerts during the trip.

The story is the focus of the 2012 Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugarman. The film gave Rodriguez a new level of worldwide fame.

The South Africa trip and shows underscored and emboldened his overseas success, especially in comparison to his domestic career.

In the United States, he worked with the record label Sussex. However, after two albums, he was dropped due to low sales. His third album that was meant to be with them was never released. He saw much more success, though, in Australia. There, a record label called Blue Goose Music bought out the the rights and distributed the music across the country.

His fame in the United States didn't truly drum up until after the release of Searching for Sugarman. It brought Americans attention to Rodriguez's unique story. Following its release, he went on a press run across the country, appearing on a variety of well-respected talk shows. He went on to properly tour the country and Canada, even headlining a tour in August 2018. During his touring life, he kept his family involved, bringing them from city to city with him.