“Being Frank tells a twisted tale of split personalities, a suburban superhero with a fanatical desire to preserve the myth he created, and eventually having to battle against being consumed by his alter ego.”
That is according to its website what the film, on release now, and first mooted five years ago,charting the life of Chris Sievey and his alter ego Frank Sidebottom.
I have to say that before watching this film, I didn’t get Frank Sidebottom.
He was either a character that you loved or hated, my memories were of the children’s shows that he appeared on in the 1990’s, the seemingly childish behaviour.
Perhaps not being from round here, I didn’t get the humour and until seeing this I have to say that I had no idea really who the man behind the papier-mâché mask.
I left with a different view.As the Director, said this seven year labour of love with much of the material rescued from a damp cellar certainly sheds more light on the man Chris Sievey behind the mask.
Sidebottom was really an accident in a career which had seen many false starts, bad decisions and adverse luck.The mask hid the man didn’t want to be exposed as a proper human being.
The story begins with a popular guy at school, who would befriend the bully by making them laugh, he wanted to entertain.He was never the same again, says his friend, after he took a tab of LSD, and inspired by the Beatles, he took up the guitar, he went to Apple with his brother with eleven pre recorded tracks, they spoke to Ringo.
The Apple people told him to go home and form a band but the inspiration faded, his brother lost interest.
However Chris continued, there are tapes, individually put together, one hundred and four rejection slips he put together, he typed his own rejection slip and included it in the pack he would send to record executives.
In his personal life he was as maverick, pushing his future wife into the canal and then kissing her on the bank after she had scrambled out.
“I realised then that I was so much in love with this person” they were married within weeks at Sale Town Hall
We are now in 1976, living in her mums spare bedroom, Sievey still craved for the world to hear him and then came the Freshies, the greatest one man organisation in music
Sievey saw at an early time , the use of video,Chris had a video camera before most other people.
If people have heard of the Freshies outside of Manchester. It was be the Virgin Megastore single. in a parallel universe, it would have been a massive No 1” but events conspired against him.A top of the Pops appearance was cancelled due to a strike and the next week the single went down the charts and the Chance was missed.
The papier-mâché Frank Sidebottom first appeared back at a party in the 1970’s- it was originally an idea to become the no 1 fan of the Freshies, a weird stalker designed to promote the band on the video-he appeared on stage in 1982 as their support act.
He became an overnight star, would take over Timperley and then came
the oh blimey big band” how could you play bad versions of other peoples songs and people love it
Children’s telly, a Sunday league football team, introducing Bros in front of fifty thousand people at Wembley, Franks shed show, he took it all very seriously
But Frank had taken over, some would say it was just an act but others saw it almost as a schizophrenia, or maybe as John Cooper Clarke said, it could have been a bullshit story put around by Chris that he was Frank
His wife tells the film that he went off the rails, his new found wealth would go on drink, women and cocaine.
Depression set in , here was a man who wanted to be a music star, who forced to put a papier mâché head on to make money.
Alcohol played a bigger role, he would go missing for days, his wife would end up taking the kids and going to live in a hostel. They would get back together for a time and had help in tackling the booze, but after 26 years they would be divorced.
He would run up debts, thirty thousand in back tax, bankrupt, onto job seekers allowance, he briefly went to work for an animation company
Then a new girlfriend, he resurrected Frank, a five year plan to get to the top and then smash the head and reveal the real Chris Sievey.
The plan would see him at Children’s parties, taking small groups of people taken on tours around Timperley,a channel M show for Manchester Cable Tv, even flying over to America for one gig and coming back, a Chelsea art exhibition.
But time wasn’t on his side, and the big reveal would never happen.Chris Sievey was diagnosed with cancer and would collapse and die at his home just a month later having played his final gig at the Salutation pub in the City Centre.
there was no money to bury him, but his fans came to the rescue and over £21,000 was raised after an appeal for donations was launched on Twitter.