22 June 2010

Chris Sievey - Frank Sidebottom

Frank Sidebottom relaxes in 1985.

1985 again - Frank's Firm Favorites. - the EP!

Chris Sievey, the genius behind Frank Sidebottom, the man with the big papier-mâché head who first delighted us in the mid-1980s, has died.

A very sad piece of news.

I've found myself remembering how I first saw Frank...

My mate Pete and I were watching our favourite Saturday morning telly show Number 73.

We were not amongst the "target audience", both being over twenty at the time, but that didn't matter.

And suddenly, there amongst the regular cast, was Frank.

Pete and I looked at each other.

"Daft!" we said.

But within half-an-hour or so we were both laughing at Frank.

Pete turned to look at me: "What are you laughing at?!"

"I dunno!" I replied. "What are YOU laughing at?!"

Neither of us knew, but for some reason we WERE laughing at Frank's antics - and we continued to laugh in the years that followed.

Frank was, to use a very popular mildly derogatory word of the early 1980s, a wally. He was squeaky-voiced and child-like and his idea of entertainment was what most people considered naff.

But the naffness, given a Sievey-inspired tweak, was also highly amusing.

Remember "Little Frank", the ventriloquist's dummy Frank sometimes carried? Little Frank was, of course, a perfect, miniature replica of Frank.

A wally Frank may have been, but he was also an innocent. This upped his likeability rating no end.

He lived at home in Timperley with his mother, and related heart warming tales of his home life to his audiences - like the time he took the lawn mower apart, tried to reassemble it, but ended up with lots of left-over pieces of lawn mower workings. He attempted to flush them down the toilet to hide what he'd been up to from his mother.

Frank's quirky comedy is not considered to be alternative by most modern day people, but I think it kind of was. If you know what I mean.

Before finding fame as Frank, Chris Sievey had been a member of The Freshies pop group. They notably scored a hit (No 54 in February 1981!) with a ditty initially entitled I'm In Love With The Girl On The Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk.

Virgin Records requested that they should be left out of it, so the song was then retitled I'm In Love With The Girl On A Certain Manchester Megastore Checkout Desk.

The initial idea for the (then unnamed) man with the papier-mache head was that he would be a fan of The Freshies, and he made his debut in 1981 on a promotional video for the song Wrap Up The Rockets (AKA Rockets).

The Freshies were cultie, but not that well known, so most people didn't see the papier-mache head man in 1981. The band split up in 1982.

In 1984, the launch of a game called The Biz, designed for the ZX Spectrum by Chris Sievey, saw the fully-developed Frank Sidebottom feature on a 12-inch promotional record, which came free with the game. This was intended to be a one-off gimmick.

But Frank was soon a star of telly and radio - and the children's comic Oink!

Chris Sievey died on 21 June 2010.

He was 54.

1 comment:

Yvonne said...

I fondly remember Mr Sidebottom on Number 73. Sorry to read this news.