Creator / Frank Sidebottom
I was born in Timperley...
Frank Sidebottom was a 37-year-old man from the Manchester suburb of Timperley note
, where he lived with his mum. He had a wide and varied career in what he called "showbiz", even though his mum didn't approve—over the years he made music, radio programmes and two TV programmes, wrote a column for Oink!
, provided commentary on Setanta Sport, founded his own football team (The Timperley Bigshorts
) and made guest appearances on dozens of television programmes, including a regular feature on ITV children's show No.73 and the MTV Europe gameshow Remote Control. According to the liner notes of "A B C & D", his "Best of" compilation, between 1984 and 1994 he:
- made 23 musical releases ("on 7"; 12'; picture disc; cassette; CD and flexi");
- made over 360 "radio timperley" broadcasts, not including guest appearances and hospital radio;
- made over 300 TV appearances, two of which were cancelled;
- performed over 1000 concerts, including Glastonbury and Wembley Stadium.
And that's just ten years of his career; He performed on and off from 1994 to 1997, then from 2005 to 2010, when his career came to a sudden, sad end.
Well, that's not the full story.Frank Sidebottom was the creation and alter ego of musician Chris Sievey, who was born in Ashton-On-Mersey some 2-and-a-half miles from Timperley. Chris was a rock musician with an encyclopaediac knowledge of 3D films, a passion for science fiction (particularly the works of Gerry Anderson
) and a strong desire to make it to Top of the Pops. Unfortunately, none of these qualities resulted in a successful career: Chris released a series of albums from 1975 to 1983 both with and without his band, the Freshies, but the closest they ever got to the Top Ten was #53 in the Singles Chart, with "I'm in Love With the Girl On The Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk". Following a particularly fallow period for the band (and after at least one near bankruptcy), Chris began work on a video game, The Biz
, for the ZX Spectrum, which allowed players to create a band and attempt to push them to national chart success. The game came with an interview conducted by none other than a certain pop music fanatic from Timperley...Soon afterwards, Chris began a career as Frank, signing a short-lived contract with EMI.
Frank inhabited a strange liminal space between his world and ours: often literally pushing his way in to the pop world, Frank was the embodiment of both a celebration and a condemnation of pop music: Frank was self-promoting and desperate for attention, but he retained a naivete and enthusiasm for music that was hard to dislike. He was annoying and repetitive to many, but sometimes his rearrangements of songs showed a flash of genius. Frank's world, as heard on his radio programmes and records and seen in his TV series', was a strange idyll in the North; a fantasy world where zoo animals co-existed with home-made science fiction robots and a trip into outer space was as likely as a day out in Blackpool. Chris Sievey died of cancer in 2010, aged just 54.Frank collaborated with many people over the course of his career, including Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke
, Peter Hook
and Caroline Aherne
. He also performed covers of many, many musicians and groups, including: Captain Beefheart
, Kylie Minogue
and The Fall
. Famous Frank Fans include Ultravox
musician Midge Ure (who appeared on his 1990 television programme, Frank Sidebottom's Fantastic Shed Show
) and alternative comedian Stewart Lee
, who helped raise money for a statue of Frank to be erected in Timperley in 2013. A partial discography can be found here
.You know it can, it really can.