Sugar & Rodriguez

Sugar & Rodriguez in London

Speaking About Sugar Man: All The Cold Facts

An informative and inspiring motivational talk about the Rodriguez phenomenon.

For the past 20 years, Stephen “Sugar” Segerman has been involved in the rediscovery of, and resurgence of worldwide interest in, Sixto Rodriguez. This legendary and internationally acclaimed American folk-rock singer-songwriter, who was a huge success in South Africa from the ‘70’s onwards, was believed to be dead but was found alive and well and living in Detroit in 1997. Since then his career has gone from strength to strength following a series of international tours, the re-release of his albums, and the success of the Oscar-winning film about this extraordinary story, ‘Searching For Sugar Man’, in 2013.

Now you can enjoy hearing Stephen “Sugar” Segerman talk about this whole musical adventure. “Sugar” as he is popularly known, has travelled around South Africa and overseas giving these talks and answering questions for the past few years, following the success of the film. He attended the Academy Awards ceremony in 2013, followed by the publishing of his best selling book in 2015, called “Sugar Man – The Birth, Death and Resurrection of Sixto Rodriguez”, co-written with his fellow “Musical Detective” in the story, Craig Bartholomew Strydom.

Stephen “Sugar” Segerman lives in Cape Town and is the owner of the iconic record store, Mabu Vinyl, in Gardens. Along with Malik Bendjelloul, the director of the film ‘Searching For Sugar Man’, Sugar spent over six years working on the documentary which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Festival, where it won two awards. The film then spent the rest of 2012 being shown at many Film Festivals around the world where it won a host of awards, including the Bafta Award, and then in 2013, the Oscar award for Best Documentary.

To find out the details involved in booking Stephen for a talk at your venue, which lasts approximately an hour and a half and includes a question and answer session, please contact:

Contact Details:

Brian Currin
(Bookings and info):

Email: sugarmanstory@sugarmusic.co.za

Phone: 021 423 7635

or use the form below:

Web:

Website: https://sugarmanstory.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SugarManStory/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/SugarManStory/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SugarManStory

Mabu Vinyl:

2 Rheede Street

Gardens

Cape Town

Phone: 021 423 7635

Email: info@mabuvinyl.co.za

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http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/entertainment/books/oscar-winning-documentary-gets-extended-play-treatment-367083501.html

The story of Sixto Rodriguez as depicted in the Academy Award-winning 2012 documentarySearching for Sugar Man was one that intrigued the world.

The plot centred around Rodriguez, a musician based out of Detroit in the ’60s and ’70s, who was never able to gain traction in the United States despite numerous industry professionals comparing his songwriting chops to those of Bob Dylan — but perhaps even better.

But more than a story about a musician who somehow sadly flew so far under the radar, the film — and now the book, Sugar Man: The Life, Death and Resurrection of Sixto Rodriguez — are about a man who unknowingly became the soundtrack for a revolution half a world away. His first album, Cold Fact, became immensely popular in South Africa during the time of apartheid, unbeknownst to the singer himself.

The film follows two South African men as they search for Rodriguez (the name Sugar Man references a line in one of his songs), who was presumed to be dead. Once they discover he’s alive and well and living in Detroit, they take him to South Africa to perform for thousands of fans and to give him a taste of the life he should have had.

Written by Craig Bartholomew Strydom and Stephen (Sugar) Segerman, two men who play a large role in the film, Sugar Man is an exhaustively detailed account of all that happened before, during and after the time frame covered in the film. Segerman’s first encounter with a Rodriguez song while doing his mandatory time in the army, Rodriguez’s multiple stints in local politics, the eventual suicide of director Malik Bendajelloul not long after the film won an Academy Award — every conversation, every email, Sugar Man covers it all.

The book is broken up into four sections — the mystery, the man, the music and the movie — which is very helpful given the amount of voices and storylines that weave together to create the narrative picture as a whole.

On occasion, however, all the details and historic references do become overwhelming, and are not always necessary in order to move the story forward. In certain instances, it feels more productive to skim over those parts instead of reading word for word.

The most interesting tidbits are those excluded from the film (or that hadn’t happened until after the film was made), namely the fact that after his initial shows in South Africa, Rodriguez toured the country several more times in the early and mid-2000s with varying success, and the surprising falling out between Segerman and Rodriguez spurred by Segerman’s move into a more managerial role.

For those who loved the documentary, Sugar Man: The Life, Death and Resurrection of Sixto Rodriguez is an excellent companion piece that bookends the film beautifully, answering any and all questions one may have about the lives of all those involved, both pre- and post-documentary.

In the prologue of the book, Strydom and Segerman say the film was “the search for the man who didn’t know he was lost.” This book proves to be the rest of the story we didn’t know we were missing.

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer at the Free Press.

Penguin Random House Invites You To The Official Launch of Sugar Man Book

Sunday Argus Oct 5 2014

Sunday Argus Oct 5 2014

Verslaaf aan die Naald 2 Aug 2014 Die Burger

From Daily Maverick

Malik Bendjelloul, the Swedish director of ‘Searching for Sugar Man’, has committed suicide aged 36. It’s just over a year since the documentary about folk musician Rodriguez won Bendjelloul an Oscar and captured the hearts of viewers all over the world. REBECCA DAVIS spoke to Bendjelloul’s subject and friend, Cape Town record-store owner Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman.

The last time I interviewed Stephen Segerman in his den in Oranjezicht, it was July 2012, just prior to the official release of Searching for Sugar Manin South Africa. At that time Segerman gave the impression of a man both bemused and exhilarated by the success of the film, in which he features prominently as one of two South Africans who made it their mission to track down Rodriguez.

Shortly before the interview, he’d been to the Sundance Film Festival with Bendjelloul and Rodriguez, where the film received a standing ovation. “It was just a magical night,” he told me at the time.

Watch: Searching for Sugar Man trailer

Almost two years later, the fairytale seemed even rosier. Searching for Sugar Man won the Best Documentary Oscar at the 2013 Academy Awards. Rodriguez, who languished in obscurity for years, today has fame and fortune locked down. It was the ultimate feel-good story.

And then, on Tuesday, shocking news broke: Bendjelloul, aged just 36, was dead.

“You know, with some people you have inklings and maybes. With Malik? Suicide? Impossible,” says Segerman, shaking his head. “I thought he must have died in his sleep or something. When I heard, well…” he trails off. “I’ve been seeing the comments. This dude had the world at his feet, he had an Oscar…”

Malik Bendjelloul was a teen actor in his native Sweden, starring in a show which Segerman describes as the Swedish version of America’s Family Ties. As an adult he worked as a TV reporter for Sweden’s public broadcaster, specialising in making short films about visiting rockstars. Then he left to travel the world, looking for richer stories.

Segerman first heard from Bendjelloul in late 2006, when he emailed the record-store owner to say that he was coming to Cape Town, and asked if they could meet. He had learnt about Segerman’s involvement in the Rodriguez tale through a piece in the Guardian, and wanted to hear more.

“At that stage we had a shop on the corner of Long Street with lekker big glass windows,” remembers Segerman. “I can still see him coming around the corner and saying: ‘Hello, I’m Malik!’”

In an interview with Movie Scope Magazine in July 2012, Bendjelloul described the encounter:

“I met Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman, the guy who first started to look for Rodriguez in Cape Town, and when he told me the story I was just blown away. It was just so beautiful and touching. Just the one-sentence summary was pretty strong: ‘A man who doesn’t know that he is a superstar.’”

For his part, Segerman instantly warmed to the lanky Swede.

“He just had such a lovely energy: tall, bright-eyed…He reminded me of Tintin,” he says.

Segerman took him up Table Mountain and Bendjelloul filmed a short sequence of Segerman telling the story of the hunt for Rodriguez. Then he disappeared off to Sweden, and Segerman didn’t hear from him for six months. At that point, Bendjelloul emailed to say: that’s the story we like in Sweden.

Bendjelloul returned to Cape Town and shot a one-minute trailer in Segerman’s den. He took it to the Sheffield Documentary Festival, where aspirant filmmakers pitch their stories. Bendjelloul won. A full-length documentary was on the cards.

Segerman points to a photograph pinned to a cabinet. It shows Segerman, Bendjelloul and camera woman Camilla Skagerström. “That was the team,” he says. “Just them. They came here and shot, then went to Detroit. There was barely any budget. Just – excuse the cliché – passion.”

rebecca-Malik-dies-better-days.jpg

Photo: Stephen Segerman, cinematographer Camilla Skagerström, and filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul, pictured in Segerman’s den in Cape Town.

In Detroit, there was the tricky business of persuading the reclusive Rodriguez to feature in the film at all. Bendjelloul worked his way in by meeting the musician’s family members one by one. He got his way eventually through sheer charm, Segerman says. Even so, filming Rodriguez had certain unique challenges. There’s a scene in the film where Rodriguez is fiddling with a video microphone while he talks. It still had to be used: there was no question of a do-over.

“There was always only gonna be one take,” Segerman chuckles. “No way was Rodriguez going to say all those things all over again.”

For over a year, Bendjelloul sat in his flat in Stockholm making the film. People promised funding and backed out. He ran out of money for animation, so he had to do the animation work himself. It’s the stuff of legends now that some scenes in the documentary had to be filmed using a $1 Super-8 iPhone app.

“That movie is sort of a bit jerry-built – kind of smashed together,” says Segerman. “I saw it for the first time and thought: That doesn’t look anything like movies I’ve checked, slick, beautifully-made documentaries!”

But the film’s sheer heart – and the incredible story it told – more than compensated for its technical weaknesses. Some suggested that the story was a little too incredible – that Bendjelloul had conveniently omitted aspects of the Rodriguez narrative that didn’t easily fit within the rags-to-riches trajectory.

“There were two main snipes about the film,” Segerman says today. “The first was that Rodriguez wasn’t actually an anti-Apartheid hero – which I never said. The other criticism is about Australia.” Bendjelloul’s documentary left out the fact that Rodriguez was aware that he had a major fan-base in Australia, and had toured there twice in the late 70s and early 80s.

“The simple explanation, which we spoke about, is that [Searching for Sugar Man] is about the search of two South Africans for Rodriguez,” Segerman says. “I found out about the Australian tour the night that I met Rodriguez for the first time, in March 1998. If I’d known, I would have tracked him through Australia! It was not part of our story.”

Segerman says Bendjelloul was unruffled by this criticism. “It made zero difference,” he says. “For him to create something which brought so much happiness into the world…Nothing could have bothered him about that.”

Segerman and Craig Bartholomew, the music journalist who also features in the documentary as instrumental in the hunt for Rodriguez, attended the Oscars with Bendjelloul last year.

From his wallet, Segerman extracts a piece of card on which he’d jotted down ideas for an acceptance speech for Bendjelloul, since the filmmaker hadn’t prepared anything.

“I’m superstitious about preparing speeches – this has been lucky for me,” it begins.

In the end, the laconic Swede didn’t need the prompt. “Oh boy!” Bendjelloul said when he won. “Thanks to one of the greatest singers ever, Rodriguez!”

There’s a photo in Segerman’s den of the three men tux-ed up, Bendjelloul clutching his statuette, at the prestigious Vanity Fair after-party.

“Just on my left side, over there,” says Segerman, pointing at the photo, “there was this old American dude. I thought: who’s that? He obviously wasn’t an actor.” He pauses. “It was Buzz Aldrin. For a baby-boomer like me, you don’t get any better than that. I met Buzz Aldrin, and then I went home.”

Interviewed by the New York Times in May last year as part of a list of ’20 Filmmakers To Watch’, Bendjelloul hinted at the surreal aspects of having made such a successful first film.

“Since everything was the first time for me, it was a bit confusing to understand what last year was all about,” Bendjelloul admitted. “To travel around with your film is a weird experience. Filmmakers are not musicians, they can’t perform their film; you don’t even need to load the projector. It was weird to think that that year was the reward for the work. But now I realise that it’s this year that is the reward. To feel free to do exactly what you want to do without feeling too scared that your ideas won’t interest anyone or worry about the rent or having to deal with people who think they know better.”

After the Oscars, Segerman says Bendjelloul was besieged with offers.

“Malik had been turning down a huge amount of stuff. He had a lot of offers of TV commercials, that kind of thing, but he wasn’t the type of guy to sell out. Your first full-length movie wins an Oscar! What the hell do you do for a second?”

In fact, for his next major project, Segerman said Bendjelloul had turned again to a South African story. He was working on a screenplay for a feature film inspired by the experiences of conservationist Lawrence Anthony, dubbed ‘the elephant whisperer’ for his work with traumatised elephants.

“He loved South Africa,” Segerman says. “I always say he should have been an honorary Capetonian. You have no idea how many people found out about Cape Town from his movie. He made it look so beautiful.”

Bendjelloul didn’t let his newfound fame go to his head, according to Segerman. “He always looked a little bit shy, a little bit awkward. It’s not an easy thing to deal with.”

Segerman was last in touch with the filmmaker last Monday, when the two had an email exchange about a legal dispute unfolding between two of Rodriguez’s old record labels. He says Bendjelloul gave no sign at all that anything was emotionally amiss.

“You know, through the film… My little record shop became a great little record shop. Rodriguez found his destiny. Malik, I thought, had found his,” Segerman says.

“You put something like that out there. The joy that I’ve got out of it – how much more so for Malik? And it wasn’t enough.” DM