Detroit singer/songwriter Sixto Rodriguez has died, according to an announcement on his official website. He was 81.
“We extend our most heartfelt condolences to his daughters – Sandra, Eva and Regan – and to all his family,” the post reads in part.
Rodriguez was born in Detroit, a child of Mexican immigrants, he was named “Sixto” because he was their sixth child. He released two albums in the early 1970s, Cold Fact and Coming to Reality. When those albums sold poorly, he stepped away from music, and focused mainly on production line work, and bought a house for $50 in 1976 in a government auction. In 1981, he ran for Mayor of Detroit.
After Rodriguez ceased making records, his music found a new audience after the fact, particularly in South Africa, where several of his songs became anti-apartheid anthems. Rumors had circulated that he had died, though he was still alive as that happened, and in 1998 he returned to the stage to a massive audience in South Africa.
In 2009, his two studio albums were reissued via Light in the Attic, putting them back in print for the first time in decades. And in 2012, he was the subject of Malik Bendjelloul’s documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, which received an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.