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RIP Frank Sidebottom

July 2, 2010

In my new zine (available soon, folks) i discuss Chris Sievey and his creation Frank Sidebottom, who i was devastated to find out last week had collapsed at his home and died. i do try to explain Frank at the start of the issue, and ask some questions about how exactly you mourn the death of a cartoon character-made-flesh, but there are some rather wonderful tributes online already including this one from Ergo Phizmiz, this one from John Robb and some nice words from his pal Mark Radcliffe. If you’re not previously acquainted with his work then perhaps it’ll be more effective to show you the man himself in action.

Firstly, some YouTube clips. Here’s one of my favourite surprise appearances from Frank on TV, popping up during one of those rundown shows called something like ‘The Top 100 Best Fantastic Pop Videos Ever’, and Aphex Twin’s ‘Windowlicker’ came in at number 65. The reclusive Richard D James didn’t want to show up, so here’s what happened…

Frank had a typically great show on Manchester’s Channel M for the last few years of his life – the programmes went out in black and white (but were repeated in colour), occasionally became 3D and featured oddball activities like pop stars doing jigsaw puzzles or trying to build their own Tracey Island from Thunderbirds. The show always ended with a song and this one was particularly fantastic, seeing as it involved Paul Ryder from The Happy Mondays on bass guitar and Starsky & Hutch’s David Soul on keyboard, doing Frank’s rendition of The Fall’s ‘Hit The North’. Wait for the especially strange moment where David somehow turns into Little Frank.

Here’s the first time Frank appeared on TV, on a local news magazine programme for Granada, claiming that The Police and Madonna were nicking his ideas. As always it’s presented by Factory Records mogul Tony Wilson – who after the report makes reference to Chris’ previous incarnation in The Freshies, specifically their biggest single ‘I’m In Love With The Girl On A Certain Manchester Megastore Checkout Desk’ – and Richard Madeley, famous in the UK for being naff.

And speaking of Manchester, Frank paid tribute to the city’s famous sons Joy Division and Morrissey at a gig in the Bull & Gate:

Finally for the embeds, it’s worth noting that Frank was due to release a single this week, his World Cup anthem ‘Three Shirts On My Line’, which he debuted at a surprise gig in a Manchester pub a few days ago. There’s still some talk of it being released with proceeds going to a cancer charity, or a fund to put a statue of the great man in Timperley, either of which would be ace. It goes something like this…

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As for audio material you can still listen to podcasts from Radio Timperley, but also why not have some mp3s that i’ve shamelessly stuck here from the Football and Music blog, eh?:

Guess Who’s Been On Match Of The Day

Football Is Really Fantastic (by Little Frank)

Timperley Blues

The Robins Aren’t Bobbins

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Buy: Frank Sidebottom – A B C & D / E F G & H

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