17 September 2012


Sixto Diaz Rodriguez’s debut album, Cold Fact, was released in the USA in March 1970, with the powerful Sugar Man as the first track. The album had poor sales in the US, but had high sales in South Africa and Australia. The album was released in 1971 in South Africa by A&M Records. In 1998 Cold Fact was awarded a platinum disc in South Africa. The follow-up album in November 1971, Coming From Reality, also had poor sales, and in 1974 the singer disappeared from the music scene. Unbeknown to him, he was already a superstar in South Africa. In 1991, Cold Fact and Coming From Reality were re-released in South Africa on compact disc. Cold Fact sold more than 500 000 copies. Rodriguez never saw a cent in royalties, and was living as a manual labourer in Detroit. In 1997, two South African fans, Stephen Segerman, a music shop owner, and journalist Craig Bartholomew Strydom, convinced him to tour South Africa in 1998. He played six concerts. A documentary about the tour, Dead Men Don't Tour: Rodriguez in South Africa 1998, was screened on SABC TV in 2001. He toured South Africa again in 2001 and 2005. In 1998, his signature song, Sugar Man, was covered by the South African rock band Just Jinjer.

Swedish filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul filmed a documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, which was recently released in South Africa. It has been a hit at international film festivals, premiering at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. It tells the story of the two South African fans looking for him.

Rodriguez is the son of Mexican immigrants who left Mexico in the 1920s. He was born in Detroit, the sixth child in the family. He married Rayma, who is part Cherokee. They were high school sweethearts, who both dropped out of school when Rayma fell pregnant. They had two daughters, Eva and Sandra. He worked at various jobs - in a steel factory and a linen factory, bricklayer and trench digger. Later on he was able to complete a philosophy degree at Wayne State University. He ran for city councillor seven times. His second wife is Konny, mother of his daughter Regan.

Eva (photo credit: George Herald)
His first-born daughter, Eva Alice Rodriguez Koller (49), lives in Wilderness Heights, on South Africa's Garden Route. After high school, Eva joined the US Army. As a child she had accompanied her parents to anti-war protests. Her father was so unhappy with her joining up, that it was her mother who had to sign her consent forms. Eva served in the Medical Corps and was trained as a combat medic. Her exposure to helicopters led to an interest in flying, and she was selected for flight training in 1987. She flew a variety of helicopters, including Hueys and Black Hawks. She served in the USA, Korea, Puerto Rico, Columbia, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Eva served in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the Gulf War. She got involved in arranging her father's concerts in South Africa, and accompanied him to Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. After her son Ethan was born, she continued with her military career for a while, before resigning three weeks after the World Trade Centre tragedy as a Chief Warrant Officer III and moving to Wilderness Heights where she home-schools her son. She has become a traditional healer, and was one of the first white women to undergo a sangoma ritual at Mdantsane, near East London. She is writing a book, tracing her military career, as well as a book about her father's life.

Her first book, The Circle of Love, encourages children to enjoy a spiritual awareness of nature. It was adapted an arts intervention project for children at the Good Hope Seminary Junior School in Cape Town. The children participated in drama, drumming, singing, puppetry, poetry, dance, wardrobe, design and art. In May 2009 it was performed at the George Society of the Arts Theatre during the Amateur Arts Festival, and Eva received a nomination for Best Performance, and Certificates of Merit for Best Novice Director and Most Original Script.

16 September 2012


South African-born Australian singer-actor Dean Stanley Geyer has an acting role in the USA television show Glee. He appears in Season 4 of the series, as Brody Weston. Season 4 started on US TV last week. Dean (26) was born on 20 March 1986 in Johannesburg as the oldest of three children to parents Debbie and Keith. He has two younger sisters, Jessica and Tatum. He spent one year at King Edward VII School in Johannesburg before the family moved to Australia in 2001 where he completed his high school studies at Melbourne High School, where he continued to play rugby. He started a band, Third Edge, in his final year of high school, and in 2006 he came third in Australian Idol, He released his first album, Rush, in 2007. From 2008-2009, he acted as Ty Harper in the long-running Australian soapie Neighbours. Recently, he was in the role of Mark Reynolds in the Steven Spielberg-produced TV series Terra Nova. Also known for his fine abs, the drum-playing Dean has a black belt in karate, and acted in the 2011 martial arts film Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown. He comes from a sporty family - his uncles are personal trainers and his aunts are aerobics instructors. His sister, father and grandfather all have black belts in karate. Dean also loves rugby, fishing, snowboarding and skiing. He is dating Jillian Murphy (28), his co-star in Never Back Down 2.


Two fashion designers and brothers from Montana, Pretoria North, recently won a prestigious designer award in Las Vegas. Johan (42) and Fritz Botha (30) from F. Wilson Fashion Design participated in the Emerging Designers competition in August, winning with their bridal couture range. The win secured them a spot in the Las Vegas Fashion Week, set to take place in February 2013. Their father passed away when Fritz was four years old. Johan took evening classes with a mentor, as he couldn't afford the study fees after his father's death. Fritz joined the business four years ago. One of their designs, worn by the TV personality Jacinda Louw-Schutte, won the Vodacom Best Dressed VIP prize at this year's Durban July.


Hilary Swank, Oscar-winning actress, was recently in Graaff-Reinet where she spent two nights at the Andries Stockenstrom Guest House. She visited the town to scatter her dog's ashes in the Karoo. During 2004, when she was filming Red Dust in Graaff-Reinet, she adopted the stray from a Graaff-Reinet animal shelter and named him Karoo. The dog often accompanied her to interviews. He died earlier this year. Hilary was working in Cape Town on the film Mary and Martha. She brought her other two dogs, Kai and RooMe, with her.


Ryan Coetzee, Special Adviser to the Western Cape Premier and the Democratic Alliance’s Head of Strategy, is swapping Cape Town for London to take up a position as Special Adviser to British Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg. He was headhunted for the British job. Nick Clegg is leader of the Liberal Democrats in Britain, and serves in the Coalition government. The Liberal Democrats are the DA’s sister party in Britain. Coetzee became a Member of Parliament in 2004.


Dark Tide is a shark thriller starring Halle Berry, and directed by Blue Crush and Into The Blue director, John Stockwell. The film was partly filmed in Cape Town and is set in Simon’s Town, South Africa. Halle Berry stars as diving instructor Kate, a renowned shark naturalist. She dives with Great White sharks outside of a cage and makes documentaries. After a fatal attack on one of her friends during a shoot, she stops altogether. A year later, William Brady, a billionaire, pays her 100 000 Euros to take him shark diving outside the cage. Things don’t go according to plan. His son is played by South African actor Luke Tyler. Cape Town-based Luke has appeared Sleeper's Wake (as Simon Venter), Dredd 3D and Chronicle. He auditioned for the Dark Tide role just before the 2010 Soccer World Cup. He grew up in Johannesburg. He can play various musical instruments and sings. Prior to acting, he studied graphic design, followed by a gap year working in the USA. Returning to Cape Town, he started studying at the Screen Actors’ Studio in Cape Town.

10 September 2012


Cpl. Rory Mackenzie
If you watched the Paralymics closing ceremony, you might have recognised the accent of the narrator atop the sun dial stage. Corporal Rory Douglas Mackenzie (30) is a South African who served in the British Army as a Combat Medic. He was born in South Africa to parents from Edinburgh and Yorkshire and moved to Britain in 2004 to fulfil his ambition of joining the Army. He joined the Parachute Regiment in 2004, transferred to the Medical Corps and went to Iraq with the Staffordshire Regiment in October 2006. Three months into his six-month tour, in January 2007, his routine early morning patrol in Basra hit a road-side bomb. The device detonated, penetrated their Warrior armoured vehicle and tore through his leg, stopping in the chest of the soldier across from him. That soldier died instantly, the youngest serving soldier in the British Army in Iraq at that time.

Rory realised he had lost his leg. He was placed into a helicopter, and a 16-hour operation at a field hospital followed to stabilise him, before he was flown to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham. Seven operations followed, and he contracted MRSA. He was supported by his mother, brother, and his then girlfriend, Storm Makings, who had flown out from South Africa. Once he was stronger, he was moved to Headley Court, where he spent seven months and many hours in the prosthetics department. His mother and girlfriend were temporarily housed in a small property available to relatives next to Headley Court, sharing with family of another wounded soldier.

When a British soldier is killed in action, he is publicly named so that proper tributes can be made. The wounded soldiers are not identified. Britain's last specialist military hospital at Haslar, near Portsmouth, was closed in 2007. An ordinary NHS hospital, Selly Oak in Birmingham, has a ward for the care of wounded soldiers. After discharge, the lucky ones get a place at Headley Court Army rehabilitation centre in Surrey. Wounded soldiers who remain in the Army are prohibited from speaking about their treatment.

Rory made a complete physical recovery and started walking again. The reality of what had happened led to anger. Fortunately, Rory received an invitation from Help for Heroes to go adaptive skiing in Bavaria, Germany, under a new military programme called Battle Back. He took to skiing with ease, after three days of learning. His frame of mind changed for the better.

Rory Mackenzie at the Paralympics Closing Ceremony
He took part in the first Help for Heroes Big Battlefield Bike Ride in 2008, using a hand bike. The 350-mile bike ride was made by 300 riders. Using specially adapted bikes, a team of six wounded soldiers toured historic European battlegrounds over seven days, laying a wreath at each destination as a tribute to those who have died for their countries. In October 2008 he was chosen along with five other British servicemen to go to the US national Olympic training centre in California to develop his sporting prowess.

Rory also took part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge as part of the Row2Recovery team, rowing from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Port St Charles in Barbados in January 2012. He heard about the Row2Recovery challenge when visiting Headley Court for a prosthetics appointment. He saw a poster saying: "More than 4,000 people have climbed Everest. More than 500 have been into space. Only 473 have ever rowed an ocean." On signing up, he discovered one of the co-founders was his commander when he first joined the Parachute Regiment in 2004. He was initially a back-up member of the team, but two months before they set off, he was selected for the team.

The rowing trip took 51 days and involved a six-man team – four of whom lost limbs in Iraq or Afghanistan. The crew, none of whom had any rowing experience before they started training, suffered with sea sickness and sores caused by the salty water. They went through a force-six gale and 50ft waves. The boat's autohelm - the computer system that steered the boat – packed up, damaged beyond repair. The crew had to use a foot-steering mechanism. Eventually the weather calmed down and they set up a regime - while three rowed, the other three crew members slept. No one ever slept for more than two-and-a-half hours. On a good day, they covered 70 miles. They had to consume 4,500 calories a day, made up from freeze-dried meals re-hydrated by adding boiling water, cereal bars, sweets, meat sticks and powdered energy drink mixes. At night they mostly rowed in silence, using iPods to listen to audio books, including biographies of great explorers. The three amputees had to keep up their stump management, which involved rubbing white spirits into the skin to desensitise it, and regular cleaning with wet wipes to prevent infection. Rory experienced immense pain, as during the trip five pieces of shrapnel left in his body had worked their way to the surface of his skin. He had to pull them out using tweezers, a mirror, and painkillers, on Christmas Day. On December 30, day 27 of the crossing, the boat’s desalinator, which converts sea water to drinking water, failed. When they switched to a manual pump, that broke as well. The only drinking water left was the 200 litres of bottled water they were carrying as ballast. They had to ask the rescue yacht to help them, which meant they would be disqualified. They started rationing the water to 2.5 litres per person per day, and had to drop anchor until the rescue yacht, 1,000 miles away, reached them. As the ocean current swirled around the stationary boat, pressure increased on the rudder and the rudder split in two. One of the crew attempted a makeshift repair, removing then re-screwing the rudder, and it worked. They reached the finish line in late January 2012, where Rory was met by his Spanish fiancee, Lara Pardo Martinez.

Rory was part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Thames flotilla. He was on the Gloriana, a row barge gifted to the Queen on behalf of the nation. It carried a team of 18 rowers led by Olympic champions Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent. Rory was one of the rowers.

He is now a keen skier, cyclist and swimmer, and rides a quad bike. After working at his regiment’s sports shop, as an analyst and adviser for the Army rugby team, and training Comabt Medics at Keogh Barracks, he has now left the Army and is a motivational speaker. He says that losing his leg has opened many doors, and he takes every opportunity that he gets. In 2009 he posed for a portrait by the war artist Arabella Dorman. He has a dream to compete in the Paralympics.

04 September 2012


Queen drummer Roger Taylor married his South African wife, Sarina Potgieter, in September 2010 after having met in 2002. He recently helped organised the Freddie For A Day fundraising party at London's Savoy Hotel. The money raised goes to the Mercury Phoenix Trust - Fighting Aids Worldwide, which has so far raised over $15 million since its creation in 1992. Thirty-eight year old Sarina wore a low-cut top showing off her henna tattoo around her cleavage. Princess Eugenie and her mother Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, also attended.

After a very short marriage and five children, the drummer tied the knot with Sarina at their home in Surrey. The reception was in a black and red marquee in their garden, with black tables and black patent leather sofas outside. Roger, 63, who is worth around £65 million, has two children with his first wife, Dominique Beyrand, and three with his former girlfriend, the Flake model Debbie Leng. He married Dominique in January 1988 and he left her 25 days later for Debbie. Dominique is the mother of his children Felix Luther and Rory Eleanor. Rory is a medical doctor. Debbie was the girl in the Breakthru music video. She dated him from 1988 to 2002, and is the mother of his children Rufus Tiger, Tiger Lily and Lola Daisy May. Debbie left him after his affair with a club stripper. Rumour has it that Sarina didn't know who Roger was and had never heard of the band Queen. Hard to believe.