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Page last updated at 17:48 GMT, Monday, 21 June 2010 18:48 UK
Frank Sidebottom creator Chris Sievey was "a genius"
Frank Sidebottom
Frank Sidebottom was instantly recognisable with his papier-mâché head

Chris Sievey, who has died at the age of 54, was the man behind comedy cult icon Frank Sidebottom.

The papier-mâché headed Frank hit the heights of fame during the 'Madchester' music period.

Instantly recognisable, his keyboard ditties and larger-than-life personality were a hit on the late 80s comedy circuit.

Reflecting his creator's early days, Frank was a proud Timperley resident and aspiring pop star.

Unlike Chris however, Frank was portrayed as perennially living at home with his mum.

Offering a gentle, though somewhat odd, take on comedy that was at odds with the alternative comedians of the time, Frank went on to appear on several TV and radio programmes in the early 90s with his puppet sidekick, Little Frank.

He fronted his own programme, Frank Sidebottom's Fantastic Shed Show, and made guest appearances on children's Saturday morning show No. 73 on ITV.

Mark Radcliffe
I genuinely believe that he is one of the very few people I have ever met in my life who I would call a genius
Mark Radcliffe

Elsewhere, he appeared alongside fellow Mancunian icon Anthony Wilson on his Channel 4 show, Remote Control, and regularly appeared on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 5 Live alongside his friends Mark Radcliffe and Marc Riley.

Frank's popularity faded towards the end of the 20th century and Chris went to work with Altrincham-based Hot Animation, where he wrote an award-winning episode of the childrens' show, Pingu.

But following a live appearance in 2005, Chris was offered the chance to return Frank to television on local Manchester station, Channel M, fronting the Frank Sidebottom's Proper Telly Show.

In 2007, he staged an exhibition of his drawings and animations at the Chelsea Space Gallery in London and as recently as February 2010, he was touring alongside punk poet, John Cooper Clarke.

He announced in May that he had been diagnosed with cancer and had been doing shows to raise money for his treatment.

His last public appearance came on the opening day of the 2010 World Cup, when he staged a show at The Salutation pub in Manchester city centre to launch his World Cup single, Three Shirts On My Line.

Before Frank

Yet for all his fame as Frank, Chris' dalliances with showbusiness started long before he created his alter-ego.

Frank Sidebottom, Timperley's most famous son

In the 1970s, Chris formed a band called The Freshies, who were initially rejected by record companies.

Undeterred, Chris formed his own label, RAZZ, in 1974 and went on to release a number of EPs, which were buoyed along by the punk and post-punk of the late 70s and early 80s.

The Freshies' fame peaked with the release of 'I'm In Love With The Girl On The Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk' (later renamed 'I'm In Love With The Girl On A Certain Manchester Megastore Checkout Desk'), which reached number 54 in the singles chart in 1981.

One of Chris' major accomplishments in The Freshies was to produce the world's first multimedia single, when he included a Sinclair Spectrum game, The Biz, on the B-side of a single.

The Biz also first introduced the character that he would become best known for, Frank Sidebottom.

Brimming full of ideas

Speaking to BBC Radio Manchester, Mark Radcliffe described him as "one of the very few people I have ever met in my life who I would call a genius."

"He was so creative, so brimming full of ideas, and it wasn't just his act, he lived his life as an elaborate extended act.

Mark, along with journalist Jon Ronson and fellow radio presenter, Chris Evans, played in Frank's Oh Blimey Big Band and said that working with him was an amazing experience.

"It wasn't just the gig that was always fun with Chris, it was the whole day.

"One time we were talking about travel games and he decided that a good idea would be travel snooker.

"The next gig we went to, which was in London, he'd brought one that he was developing with Velcro balls.

"We went from Timperley to London in a van with a snooker table in the middle of it, which meant there was barely any room to sit.

"But that was worth it for Chris, because that was a good joke, a funny joke."




SEE ALSO
Man behind Frank Sidebottom dies
21 Jun 10 |  Manchester
Frank Sidebottom: behind the mask
23 Jun 10 |  People & Places


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