The story of Sixto Rodriguez – known simply as Rodriguez, and the subject of Oscar-winning documentary “Searching For Sugar Man” – isn’t a comeback tale. He recorded two albums in the early 1970s that didn’t sell and, as is usually the case, the Detroit native went home and got on with his life.

But in apartheid-era South Africa, he won a following as an “underground” artist that made authoritarian censors itch. When Rodriguez dropped from the radar after Cold Fact and Coming to Reality tanked stateside, a South African legend was born.

Photo: Doug Seymour

And despite the fact that Rodriguez would reemerge from time to time to perform in Australia and New Zealand, he remained a cult figure in South Africa until being “rediscovered” about a decade ago, brought back to the country for a series of arena sellouts and spawning “Searching For Sugar Man.”

Critics can quibble over the details of the Rodriguez story, and they do. Any dramatic license taken with “Searching For Sugar Man” doesn’t negate his box office numbers. Rodriguez is selling lots of tickets, and not just in South Africa.

A Radio City Music Hall booking sold out in one day. Two Beacon Theatre shows are on the books. And at least two other shows have had to be moved into larger venues because of demand. The Agency Group’s Christian Bernhardt told Pollstar there may be more.  

Bernhardt began working with Rodriguez after the singer was brought to his attention by a friend at Light In The Attic Records, which re-released the two albums in 2008.

Photo: Doug Seymour

“He sent me the records and they blew me away. I thought this is so good that it would catch on eventually. I didn’t have any idea it would catch on like this,” Bernhardt told Pollstar.

“He was on the road three times in the U.S. since 2008 and hardly anybody came to see him. Now, obviously, the movie revealed everything and made him much bigger than he ever anticipated.”

Bernhardt and Rodriguez do not intend to go “one and done” a second time. “We’re basing his career on the music, as it’s always been,” Bernhardt said. “We want to be slow and careful to keep the focus on the music. We don’t intend for this to be over next year.”