Sea Point has lost one of its original oddballs and a real mensch, Sydney Becker, 83, once a star window dresser at Edgars, and our own Rod the Mod.
He’s the closest to a Rod Stewart doppelgänger that we have this side of the mountain.
Sydney, born on July 18 1937, died of cardiac arrest on Monday November 9.
I met him 1982 when he worked at Edgars and I was looking for props for our matric dance. The theme was something to do with ships, yachts or beaches, and he gave me surplus umbrellas and beach chairs. “Summer in the sun” was the theme at Edgars that year.
We stayed in touch since then.
People used to spot him walking around Sea Point, smiling and waving at unsuspecting visitors, who thought that he was the real Rod.
Once I saw a posse of overexcited schoolgirls posing for a picture with him at the Adelphi Centre.
For many years, his clothing ensemble consisted of high platform shoes, bell-bottom pants, super-tight lace shirts, and several bling necklaces swinging around his tanned neck.
In the early 1970s, to get that Rod look, he had his long hair straightened. Soon after that, as the real Rod became even more popular, moonstruck “fans” would stop him in the streets and ask him for his autograph. With age, he somewhat toned down this “uniform”.
One night, he told me, in a club in Buenos Aires, the manager stopped the music, got onto the stage and said: “We’d like to welcome Rod Stewart, please give him a hand.”
The place went mad, the crowd roared, there was a stampede. He had to run away as fast as he could. The next morning, he looked out of the hotel window to see a mob waiting for him.
He also appeared in the gossip pages in Greece that wrote Rod Stewart was in town.
When the real Rod Stewart came to town he was hired to drive around in a limousine and wave at the people outside, as part of a publicity stunt.
Then there was the time he was mobbed at Sun City and most memorably at the Michael Jackson concert in Cape Town, where he upstaged Michael and had to sign (Michael’s) programmes while the crowd shouted: “We want Rod, we want Rod!”
The last time I saw him he told me it was dreadful (for him) to be old, he was short of breath. I said he’d have to hold out until 90 and we’d do a big story.
Dear Sydney, now “you are sailing / you are sailing / home again / ‘cross the sea”.
Long life to your nephew Maurice Levine.
- Written by Herman Lattegan