Detroit singer Sixto Rodriguez was one of the hottest acts in South Africa and he didn't know it.
Literally everyone there knew his music. But he went decades without finding out. And he's anonymous in his native country. In fact, he no longer performs. He renovates houses.
There's a documentary about Sixto that you might have seen, It's called Searching for Sugar Man.
That came out in 2012.
Now I'm finding out that another artist, this time British vaudeville comedian Freddie Frinton, has the same status. He recorded a skit called Dinner for One in front of a live audience in 1963 for a German TV station.
You know how A Charlie Brown Christmas is now an every-year staple of American TV?
Dinner for One has reached the same status in Germany on New Year's Eve. It's also loved in Scandinavia and the Baltic countries. The Guinness Book of World Records says it's the most repeated show in TV history. Its catchphrase, "Same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?" became used all over the country. There are drinking games to match the drinking that takes place in the ten-minute sketch, about a widow celebrating her 90th birthday with friends who are actually dead.
Freddie Frinton, in other words, is a star in Germany. And he never knew it. He died before the New Year's phenomenon hit in 1972 and his family didn't learn about his popularity there until a few years ago. His sketch is never played on British TV (until this New Year's.) No-one's heard of him in his homeland.
I find this sort of thing both fascinating and sad. Performing artists live for the public to appreciate their art. To be deprived of the very thing they crave is a downer.
So in honor of Freddie Frinton, here's the complete Dinner for One, from 1962.