Monday, June 21, 2010

Frank Sidebottom creator Chris Sievey dies


The term "unique comic genius" is often used automatically whenever a comedian passes away but in the case of Chris Sievey, who died this morning, it's a suitable description indeed. Chris, aged 54, was the creator of his showbiz persona Frank Sidebottom.

You may remember Frank Sidebottom from his tv series Frank Sidebottom's Fantastic Shed Show in the 1990s, or even the comic strip that ran in Oink! in the 1980s, written and drawn by Chris himself (as Frank of course), or from his live performances over the years. I saw his act twice about 25 years ago and the audience were in hysterics throughout. You see, Frank had a distinctive appearance; he had a papier-mache head. And in case that wasn't funny enough, he was accompanied by his puppet, Little Frank, who had an identical little papier-mache head. You're right; you had to be there. And his fans were there, enjoying every minute of it, right up to recent years by following him on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

His act was a deliberately disjointed mixture of his own songs (Zoo Scrapbook, Space is Ace, etc), tributes to Queen, Paul McCartney, and medleys of Sci Fi themes, punk, and anything else that crossed his mind all performed to a jolly tempo and sang with a nasal pitch. The "Frank" persona was a big kid, an aspiring songwriter from Timperly, permanently living with his Mum, still surrounded by his favourite things of childhood where the world was either extremes of "fantastic" or "bobbins". (Bobbins of cotton = rotten.)

Rather than me describing any more of this individualistic genius let's take a look at some of his work. Firstly, a couple of the strips he contributed to Oink! in 1987 which perfectly convey the humour of Frank Sidebottom's world...




There are several clips on You Tube of Frank Sidebottom performing his act and whether you're already one of his many "Fantastic Frank Fans" or a newcomer to his mad world of mirth they're well worth looking at...



Frank Sidebottom never became the huge tv star he deserved to be. Television couldn't pigeonhole someone so unique and he was a performer you either "got" or you didn't. For those of us who did "get" his comedy he'll always remain forever fantastic.

BBC News reports on his death:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/10370480.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/manchester/hi/people_and_places/newsid_8752000/8752639.stm

The Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2010/jun/21/frank-sidebottom-creator-chris-sievey-dies

7 comments:

jon haward said...

HE WAS A GENIUS ALWAYS MADE ME SMILE AND LAUGH great tribute Lew ,very sad news

Andy said...

I remember him well on "Number 73" in the 1980s. So sorry to hear this news.

bristle said...

Fantastic to see those pages again, thanks for sharing!

You may have seen the report in the Manchester Evening News that Chris/Frank didn't leave much behind to cover funeral arrangements. With permission from his family, there's been a bit of internet tin-rattling to make sure he gets the send off he deserves - see the Frank's Fantastic Funeral Facebook page for more info.

If anyone wishes to contribute they can Paypal money to jonelle1929@paypal.com - or if they don't have a Paypal account, they can there's use the 'donate' button on the Radio Timperley podcast page.

No firm decision on where any surplus money will go, but no doubt it will be to a good cause :-)

Steve Dix said...

There's a group on Facebook called "Frank's Fantastic Funeral" where fans can pay their respects, and, more importantly, there are details of how to donate to his Funeral fund via Paypal.

Gareth said...

The Manchester Evening News had Frank on the front page yesterday in a big full colour picture but it was sad because it was about him facing a pauper's funeral.It's in the Daily Mirror today and it said fans raised £6,500 for the funeral.

darangutan said...

This was so sad. The curse of Oink! strikes again. Lew - you were telling me at Bristol how many former Oink! artists have died in recent years. I hope you're keeping up with your macrobiotic diet and live to be 100!

Boob Face said...

Hi Lew

Thanks for writing this - a really lovely tribute.

I'm curating an exhibition of fans' artwork of Frank Sidebottom at the Univeristy of Salford. Just thought you might be interested.

www.salford.ac.uk/frankophilia

Best wishes

Suzanne Smith

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