Matt Sullivan, who stumbled upon a bootleg of the 1970 record, Cold Fact, re-released the album under his label, Light In The Attic Records, which has since helped launch the career of musician Rodriguez. Below are questions expanded from the interview with Sullivan that ran in yesterday's paper.
SW: I read that when the album was first recorded, the producers said they really thought it was something that was going to make Rodriguez one of the greatest of his generation. Why do you think it never picked up???
Sullivan: There's a number of possibilities. It was the first release on a brand new record label, though the record did have backing and very good distribution, but who knows? People have lots of theories. Some people say was it because he's Mexican-American?
I don't know ... in the movie Mike Theodore, one of the producers on Cold Fact, says, "I don't know, was it because there was an oboe instead of a violin? Was it because the cover had orange in it instead of blue?" There are a million records all the time that fall through the cracks. It doesn't really make sense what makes it and what doesn't.
Were you talking with Rodriguez at the same time the documentary was being put together?
No, that was long before us. That was like in the '90s. Those guys had been searching for him for ages. I first heard Rodriguez, which was in the early 2000's, so that was years later, [and] stumbled across the website about how they found Rodriguez. I emailed that website, and they put me in touch with Rodriguez's daughter in Detroit and that's when we went there and met him and everything.
??The movie itself just recently came out. I found out about the movie, I don't know, maybe somewhere in '07 or '08, but we had already been working on the re-issues [Cold Fact, Coming From Reality] for a couple years. But the director, he was in touch with us eventually and obviously in touch with Rodriguez early on. Without the South Africans, we would have never found him.
What was it that first made you want to find Rodriguez?
He's an incredible, lovely human being and we just heard something in those records, something in our soul, that said we had to find a way to find Rodriguez, get these records out and do it the right way, and get him paid and everything. ??It's a long, crazy story, but when I first heard him I didn't even know the story. I just liked the music. Then we went to Detroit and met him, and figuring out the rights to reissue was really complicated, [but] we finalized the albums and put them out in 2008, 2009, and they did really well.