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Frank Sidebottom RIP

Chris Sievey, the creator of the biggest head in Manchester dies : Sleuth reports

Published on June 22nd 2010.

Frank Sidebottom RIP

Sleuth is a sideways glance at the city every week. We give £25 for every story/rumour and piece of absurdity you find for us to print. We ask for the money back if any legal action follows.

Sleuth met both Frank Sidebottom, his tiny alter ego Little Frank, and Chris Sievey several times. Sleuth was once part of a charity event with Moonchester, the Manchester City Mascot. Sleuth thought all four people were funny, charming and gentle, despite the fact that Sidebottom had a massive papier mache head, Little Frank was a puppet and Moonchester was a blue moon man - while Sievey looked like the rest of us.

Who can forget the magic of his Queen covers, such as Flash Gordon, which begins with the refrain, ‘Frank! Aha. Saviour of the Universe’? Or even the Bohemian Rhapsody version which starts ‘Is this the real life, or is this just Timperley?'

Sievey passed the Moonchester mantle quickly on but he was Frank Sidebottom for more than twenty years. He died aged 54 on the longest day of the year, 21 June, after collapsing at his home in Hale, where he was recovering from surgery for a tumour on his chest.

His humour was wry, absurd and kind, his character was of the type which naturally made people warm to him. Frank looked like he was a fifties or thirties throwback with his Brylcreamed hair: indeed his act had more affinity with traditional northern music hall than it did with the Ben Elton generation he rose to prominence with back in the 1980s.

Sleuth will remember him best for his songs about Timperley, the monumentally staid, curtain twitching Manchester suburb that would like to be a bit posh like Hale and Bowdon but just can’t manage it. Caroline Aherne’s comedy character Mrs Merton began life as Frank's sidekick on his Radio Timperley show.

Sleuth has an album from Frank. He still likes singing along to Frank’s cover of a Beach Boys' classic called Surfin’ Timperley. The opening verse goes: ‘It started off in Timperley up in my bedroom/ The bank manager saw it, now it’s spread to Cheadle Hulme./ It’s all over Hale, Sale, Baguley./ Everyone’s going surfin’, surfin’ Timperley’. It turns out the surf board is his mum’s ironing board.

Or his version of Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA’ which becomes 'Born in Timperley' and with the lyrics: 'I go shopping in Timperley/ They've got loads of shops/That's where I do the shopping for my mum/Five pounds of potatoes and lots of chops'.

And who can forget the magic of his Queen covers, such as Flash Gordon, which begins with the refrain, ‘Frank! Aha. Saviour of the Universe’? Or even the Bohemian Rhapsody version which starts ‘Is this the real life, or is this just Timperley?’

View across the bay of Timperley to the mountains beyond

Here’s his latest epic song released days before his death.

Click here to watch the video
It’s called Three Shirts on My Line and includes the immortal chorus of ‘It’s gone next door, it’s gone next door, my football’s gone next door.’

Behind him in the Youtube video is a picture of Charlotte Bronte who appears to be staring at Frank Sidebottom with a bewildered look on her face. Charlotte Bronte is dead, so is Frank. As City fans often sing, ‘We’re not really here’, click here.

See ya Frank, Little Frank and Chris.

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8 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJune 22nd 2010.

Saw him in 1985 on the same stage as Divine - now that was a night to remember. A very funny man

Frank FanJune 22nd 2010.

We'll miss you Frank.

sproutJune 22nd 2010.

No excuse for such a poor "tribute" - 3 paragraphs consisting simply of his lyrics is simply lazy. liverpoolconfidential do a much better job.

Harry the FirstJune 22nd 2010.

Right tone and right length. Be light-hearted, Chris was.

Charlotte_hsJune 23rd 2010.

Frank Sidebottom's family cannot pay his funeral costs (he was going to do extra gigs to help pay for treatment when he died). They've set up a paypal account for anyone wishing to donate: jonelle1929@gmail.com
He'll publish each donation on facebook and send to the family for funeral arrangements. Any leftover could go to a statue fund? #franksfund (via @jonronson on Twitter)

Miss MJune 23rd 2010.

I only discovered Frank Sidebottom after moving to Manchester 4 years ago and instantly fell in love with him. Outstanding entertainer and I'm so glad I saw him live a couple of times. Shame there will be no more Magical Timplerley Tours. R.I.P. Frank - you're a true Mancunian Legend. Surfin' Timperley is also my favourite track :o)

Andrew RevansJune 24th 2010.

Let no one forget he was also leader of The Freshies, a great post-punk powerpop band who, had there not been a postal strike, would have had a chart hit with "I'm In Love With The Girl On The Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk"...

Matt WilliamsonJuly 3rd 2010.

RIP Frank, you will be missed

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