A chronological history of Rodriguez: the man, the myth, the music

By Brian Currin

1942
10 July

Sixto Diaz Rodriguez born in Detroit, Michigan, USA.

“I like to tell people that I was born on Michigan Avenue, five blocks from the centre of Detroit.” – Rodriguez

1967
April Rodriguez records 6 tracks for the Impact record label in Detroit, most of which will be re-recorded for the Cold Fact and Coming From Reality albums.
August I’ll Slip Away, produced by Harry Balk, is released as a single by Impact Records in the USA and credited to Rod Riguez. This track will be re-recorded in 1972. The b-side is You Got To Admit It.
23 September “Rod Riguez could make a name for himself with this bluesy, mid-tempo rock ballad. Keep it in sight.” – Cashbox reviewing I’ll Slip Away single
1969
August/September Cold Fact recorded at Tera-Shirma Studio in Detroit. Arranged and produced by Mike Theodore and Dennis Coffey.
1970
March/April Cold Fact is released on the Sussex label, but fails to sell. The album will be re-issued in South Africa in 1971 and again in 1974 and will become a cult classic among National Servicemen and University students.
18 April Billboard gives Cold Fact a 4 star review.
Mid-to-late 1970 Recording sessions for Coming From Reality held over 3 weeks at Lansdowne Studios in London during mid-to-late 1970. Produced by Steve Rowland.
“We spent 30 wonderful days recording the Reality album. We stayed in Belgravia, London.” – Rodriguez
1971-1995
April 1971 Cold Fact released in South Africa.
November 1971 Coming From Reality released in USA, but does not sell.
1972 I Think Of You/To Whom It May Concern 7″ single released in Brazil and both sides are played on Brazilian local radio.
1972 Coming From Reality released in South Africa.
1972 Steve Rowland (Coming From Reality producer) and Family Dogg release an album titled The View From Rowland’s Head which includes five Rodriguez-penned tracks.
1972/73 Street Boy, I’ll Slip Away and Can’t Get Away recorded at GM Recording Studios, East Detroit, MI.
1976 Coming From Reality re-issued in South Africa again, but now re-named After The Fact to capitalise on success of Cold Fact.
June 1977 At His Best released in Australia
May 1978 Cold Fact released in Australia.
January 1979 Coming From Reality released in Australia.
March /April 1979 Rodriguez tours Australia.Shows on 17th and 18th March are recorded for a live album.
October 1981 Tour of Australia with Midnight Oil.
October 1981 Rodriguez Alive, recorded during the 1979 Australian tour, is released in Australia and New Zealand only. Has not yet been released on CD.
1981 Rodriguez graduates from Wayne State University (Detroit) with a BA in Philosophy.
1982 The Best Of Rodriguez released in South Africa, with the same tracks as the Australian At His Best album, but with a different cover.
1986 At His Best and Cold Fact re-issued in Australia by Blue Goose Music.
22 April 1991 Cold Fact released on CD in South Africa.
1993 At His Best and Cold Fact released on CD in Australia.
1996
30 April Coming From Reality / After The Fact released on CD in South Africa with sleeve notes by Mad Andy Harrod and Stephen “Sugar” Segerman.
17 September Spurred on by the sleeve notes of After The Fact, South African journalist Craig Bartholomew sets off in search of Rodriguez.
November The Best Of Rodriguez re-issued on CD in South Africa with extra tracks.
1997
April The Great Rodriguez Hunt website is published by Stephen “Sugar” Segerman and Alec McCrindle.
3 August Craig Bartholomew makes telephone contact with Rodriguez.
6 August The first post (by Alec McCrindle) appears on The Great Rodriguez Hunt message board.
12 September Eva Alicia Rodriguez Koller publishes a message on The Great Rodriguez Hunt Message Board: “Rodriguez is my father! I’m serious.”
15 September Stephen Segerman speaks to Rodriguez on the phone.
October Craig Bartholomew’s article “Looking For Rodriguez” published in “Directions” magazine.
25 October Brian Currin publishes the “Climb Up On My Music” website, a catalogue of information and trivia about Rodriguez and his music.
26 October Newspaper report on Stephen Segerman finding Rodriguez appears in The Sunday Times Cape Metro. This article refers to Craig Bartholomew as “a music detective”.
27 October The Great Rodriguez Hunt website becomes The Great Rodriguez Website as the hunt is now over.
November I’ll Slip Away, originally released as a single in 1967, is released on The Best Of Impact Records compilation CD
1998
11 February Eva announces on The Rodriguez Forum website that Rodriguez is coming to tour South Africa.
16 February Cape Times newspaper publishes an article announcing Cape Town concerts for March 6 & 7.
17 February The Star newspaper publishes a report confirming dates for the South African tour in March.
20 February The Mail & Guardian newspaper publishes an interview with Rodriguez by Craig Bartholomew.
2 March Rodriguez arrives in Cape Town, South Africa.
5 March Rodriguez is interviewed on MNet TV program “Front Row” and performs I Wonder unplugged in the studio.
6 March South African tour opens at Bellville Velodrome, Cape Town. Rodriguez is greeted with a standing ovation and the crowd sings along to every song.
9 March Sold-out concert at Standard Bank Arena, Johannesburg. After the show Rodriguez is awarded a platinum disc for Cold Fact (over 50 000 units sold in South Africa).
10 March Another sold-out show at the Standard Bank Arena, Johannesburg. This show is recorded to be released as a live album, Live Fact.
23 March South Africa rock band Just Jinger release 6-track EP CD Something For Now with a cover version of Sugar Man. This song has long been part of their stage repertoire.
12 June Live Fact, recorded on 10th March 1998, is released in South Africa.
12-14 June Rodriguez tours Sweden.
16 June Rodriguez appears on stage with Just Jinger at the State Of The Nation Concert at the Standard Bank Arena, but does not perform.
17 June Rodriguez plays a Record Company bash at The Blues Room in Johannesburg to launch the Live Fact album. Tickets by invitation only.
1999
September Universal Music (South Africa), the distributors of the Rodriguez back catalogue (except for Live Fact which is on the Sony label), confirm that they will no longer be pressing or distributing Rodriguez CDs.
2001
April 30th anniversary of the release of Cold Fact in South Africa.
5 July ‘Dead Men Don’t Tour’ documentary produced by Tonia Selley broadcast on SABC 3 TV.
10 July Stephen Segerman visits Rodriguez in Detroit for his 59th birthday and presents him with a copy of the ‘Dead Men Don’t Tour’ video documentary.
September 16-date tour of South Africa
2002
15 April Rodriguez ‘Sugarman’ + Muddy Waters ‘Tom Cat’ released as 500 limited edition 7-inch single, taken from David Holmes’ mix album ‘Come Get It I Got It’.
1 June The “Climb Up On My Music” and “The Great Rodriguez Website” websites combine as http://www.sugarman.org.
8 July PT Music South Africa announces that Cold Fact and After The Fact will soon be available in South Africa on CD again.
10 July Rodriguez’s 60th birthday.
15 July Tim Forster’s article on Rodriguez appears in Mojo magazine.
28 July Cold Fact re-issued in South Africa by PT Music. The Sugarman.org website is involved in correcting the lyrics and providing additional information.
October After The Fact re-issued on CD by PT Music in South Africa. The Sugarman.org website is involved in correcting the lyrics and providing additional information.
December Sugarman listed at number 34 in “The 100 Greatest Drug Songs Ever!” published in the December 2002 issue of UK magazine Mojo.
2003-2007
17 & 18 April 2003 Rodriguez meets David Holmes at Avatar Studios (formally the Power Station) and adds backing vocals to a new recording of Sugarman.
1 September 2003 Official release of the Free Association’s version of Sugarman on Mercury Records.
10 July 2004 Rodriguez arrives in Windhoek, Namibia from Detroit on his 62nd birthday and is met by his daughter, Eva, who now lives in South Africa.
15 July 2004 Rodriguez performs a one-off concert in a place called Otjiwarongo. This small Namibian town is approximately 400kms from Windhoek. This concert is part of the Cheetah National Arts Festival.
1 August 2004 Article appears in Sunday Times about Rodriguez meeting up with South African musicians, Garden Root.
13-14 August 2004 Rodriguez plays three sold-out concerts on the Garden Route in the Southern Cape this weekend. His band for these concerts was Graeme Sindall (lead guitar), Heath Sindall (drums), and Neil Lord (bass).
August 2005 Remastered version of Cold Fact released by PT Music.
12 August 2005 London gigs announced.
29 September 2005 Sugarman – The Best Of Rodriguez CD, compiled by PT Music and Sugarman.org, is launched at the Independent Armchair Theatre in Cape Town with a performance by Rodriguez.
7 & 8 October 2005 Rodriguez plays live in London for the first time.
23 November 2006 Rodriguez plays live in London again.
April 2007 Rodriguez plays live in Australia.
14th April 2007 Rodriguez plays live in Rotterdam, Holland.
2008
19th August Cold Fact remastered and re-issued in the USA by Light In The Attic.
Rodriguez articles and positive reviews appear in various music magazines including Mojo and Uncut.
2009
5th May Coming From Reality remastered and re-issued in the USA by Light In The Attic.
May to August Rodriguez tours USA and Europe.The world’s biggest cult musician gains worldwide recognition at last.
August/September 40th Anniversary of the recording sessions for Cold Fact.
September Rodriguez tours South Africa
September All The Facts 2CD set released by PT Music in South Africa.
2010
23rd January Australian Tour for March / April 2010 announced.
March 40th Anniversary of the release of Cold Fact
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4 thoughts on “A chronological history of Rodriguez: the man, the myth, the music

  1. In your entry for 2003-2007, 17 & 18 April 2003, you wrote “Avatar Studios (formally the Hit Factory).” It should read “Avatar Studios (formally the Power Station).” Not quite the same studio. Thanks.

  2. Hi Brian, just wanted to say thank you for compiling all this invaluable info.
    Rodriguez played a gig @ the The Governor Hindmarsh (Adelaide, SA, Australia)on April 10, 2010.
    Truly a humbling experience to personally meet & greet Rodriguez!

    Ciao,
    Branson

    ps. Have some wonderful photos if you’d like for your collection.

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