The comeback king - Page 2

A rock'n'roll cult hero is reborn in 'Searching for Sugar Man'

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The unknown superstar: Rodriguez strolls with his guitar.
PHOTO COURTESY OF MALIK BENDJELLOUL/SONY PICTURES CLASSICS

Rodriguez came to the project in 2008, memorably materializing out of the shadows in Searching for Sugar Man in the window of the house he's lived in for the last 40 years (and purchased for $100, he swears). He made a living doing demo on construction projects. "I'm from a working class background and that's what I do," the musician declares proudly. "I always like to say, 'Never throw away your work clothes!' I think it's good for people to stay active: you can kick a lot more ass if you stay physically fit."

Of his story's fairy-tale trajectory, Rodriguez says, "I didn't believe I was anything in South Africa. In this music business, everybody's the greatest and latest. Everyone's a sweetheart. But underneath that, there's a lot of realism in music. People aren't as successful as they appear to be. They talk about the wonderful Motown thing, but if you list all the tragedies they had, it wouldn't be such a pretty picture."

Still, even one as familiar with the cold facts as Rodriguez can't deny the power of a great song — and one that he wrote. "This current issue of Esquire magazine has a song of the month: it's 'I Wonder,' a 20-year-old song. The longevity of music amazes me," he offers laconically, the barest hint of pleasure creeping into his voice. "It can last." *

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN opens Fri/3 in San Francisco.

RODRIGUEZ

Sept. 29, 9pm, $20

Bimbo's 365 Club

1025 Columbus, SF

www.bimbos.com

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