Monday, June 21, 2010

Papermaicheobit: Frank Sidebottom

Heartbreaking news this evening, I'm afraid, as Chris Sievey, of the Freshies and Frank Sidebottom fame, has died.

The Freshies's big moment came with the hit I'm In Love With The Girl On The Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk, re-recorded with 'Virgin' replaced by 'Certain' to avoid BBC restrictions on advertising. But it was the creation of a fan from Timperley, Frank Sidebottom, and an entire fantasy world centred on his large, paper-maiche head that would be the basis of a twenty-five year career.

Frank Sidebottom turned up all over the place - guest slots on Radio Five's Hit On The North; bits for short-lived proto-Viz Oink comic; anything that Tony Wilson was doing. He did a track for the NME's Sgt Pepper Knew My Family album, part of a slew of records which usually could be obtained by mail order from Marc Riley's In Tape. And although not really a children's entertainer, Frank would often pop up adding to the general chaos on ITV Saturday morning kids' shows of varying quality.

Good-natured, always in-character, and self-assured at keeping a cast of supporting characters spinning, in Frank Sidebottom Chris created something very special indeed.

He'd been ill for a while - last month he had a tumor removed from his chest - and was found collapsed at home very early this morning. Chris was taken to hospital, but died shortly afterwards.

Here's Frank at the Bull And Gate doing a Manchester Medley:

It's usual when we lose an entertainer to say they're irreplaceable, but in the case of Frank, you know he is. He really is.