Between Takes: How Motown Production Shaped Rodriguez’s “Cold Fact”

In Episode 019 of Between Takes, hear the story of how Sixto Rodriguez recorded his debut album, “Cold Fact.”

Welcome to Between Takes; where artists and musicians tell stories about what happens behind the scenes.

WDET’s Sam Beaubien has been dedicated to making music in Detroit for 20 years, and this series connects you with the stories he has heard on gigs and at recording sessions.

Get a look into Stevie Wonders audition for Motown Records, sessions with funk master George Clinton, renowned hip-hop producer J Dilla’s first days with a drum machine, and many more stories about what shaped the legacy of this musical city. 

Episode 018

Sixto Rodriguez is a songwriter and musician from Detroit. In 1970 he was introduced to Motown Funk Brother, Dennis Coffey, who convinced Rodriguez to record his debut album, “Cold Fact.” Coffey produced the album, and the album showcases not only the incredible songwriting of Rodriguez but also includes production techniques that Coffey learned at Motown and packaged in a folk/rock album.

When the album was released, it was a commercial flop and sold very poorly. But, unknown to Rodriguez, the album went on to sell in other countries. In 1971, the album was released in South Africa by A&M Records. Five years later, several thousand copies of “Cold Fact” were found in a warehouse and sold out in Australia in a few weeks. It went to No. 23 on the Australian album charts in 1978, staying on the charts for fifty-five weeks. In 1998, “Cold Fact” was awarded a platinum disc in South Africa and was five-times platinum in Australia. This amazing story is featured in the award-winning documentary, “Searching for Sugarman.”

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  • Sam Beaubien
    Sam Beaubien is a musician, composer, producer, and educator in Detroit. He is also the founder and leader of the acclaimed ensemble, Will Sessions.