Chris Sievey. You may not have heard of this incredibly artistic, talented individual. But he, was Frank Sidebottom. And we think you need to know all about him.
Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story gives us everything. Cataloguing his life and works in incredible detail this film is a delight. So obviously made with love and time. The personal accounts, of Chris Sievey are hilarious and it is obvious that the people who knew feel an immense affection for him. Including friends such as John Cooper Clarke, and Mark Radcliffe as well as fans such as Ross Noble and Johnny Vegas.
We follow Chris’ life, with stories from his brother, and school friends. Quickly we are lucky enough to see some of his early artwork through Subbuteo match programmes. A total Beatles fan (we loved him already) Chris then got into music which became a massive passion, and he started producing his own music.
Being Frank documents Chris Sieveys life and displays how much of a performance his life was. Whether this was through art he was making, the clothes he wore, music he was putting onto cassettes or vinyl – along with all the artwork, promotional posters, videos and everything that goes with it. His musical career is absolutely fascinating! Founding The Freshies they had their biggest hit in 1980 and just missed getting a performance on Top of the Pops due to the episode being off air the week they were reigning high in the charts. That seems to be typical of The Freshies career. Innovative, post punk, fun and bright, maybe they were just around at the wrong time? The early 80s were too dark for The Freshies.
The Freshies biggest hit was, get ready for this:
Chris continued to be extremely innovative with his ideas. Promotional techniques (we won’t spoil the story), producing a video game on the b-side of a vinyl single. He was revolutionary and really quite before his time.
Alongside his professional life there is a love story running through Being Frank, and family life is explored. Home videos are a real treat and Chris’ children recount great tales of quite a unique childhood.
Where does Frank Sidebottom come into this I hear you cry?
So, Chris made a paper maiche head for a fancy dress party and everyone loves it. He decides to use him in The Freshies live shows and has him as a warm up act for the main band. The premise being Frank is a crazed Freshies fanatic. And he is a massive hit.
Frank soon takes over. “We want Frank” ringing through venues. So he’s off on his own. A star in his own right. And so Chris is in there somewhere but he is not in the limelight as himself any more.
He tours with his ‘Oh Blimey Band’ which included Mark Radcliffe on drums and Jon Ronson on keyboards. They tour and become well known locally with a real cult following. Chris remains a prolific artist day and night in so many mediums. Providing fans with personalised letters and memorabilia. It’s such a heart-warming story. Knowing ourselves how it feels to be a fan, whoever it may be of, this must have been so exciting!
Kids TV makes Frank a household name, eventually getting his own late night TV show, Frank Sidebottoms Fantastic Shed Show with Caroline Aherne’s Mrs Merton on keyboards near his shed with him. But the story of Frank, Chris, also Little Frank isn’t all fun and hilarity. Addiction, break ups, personal turmoil and depression, the story is so much more.
A tragic tale, we loved Being Frank. At last Chris Sievey will get the attention and spotlight he wanted and so deserved. It’s a great film.
You know it is, it really is.
GO SEE IT…
Being Frank previews at HOME Manchester on 8th March.
General release nationwide from March 29th
Also, check out Bobbins: Frank Sidebottom and Chris Sievey Exhibition at Manchester Central Library from 1st March – 30th April 2019: