Daily Tedium

Let’s Be Frank

The story of Frank Sidebottom, a character with a giant head who obsessed over both pop music and his hometown of Timperley.

By Ernie Smith

Behind the Mask: It takes a certain kind of human being to create a persona for yourself, and—by all accounts—Chris Sievey was very much that person.

The British musician made his name in the ‘80s with an oddball comic persona named Frank Sidebottom, who was noted for both the giant mask he wore and his ability to rewrite classic pop songs into comic odes about Frank’s hometown, the Manchester suburb of Timperley. His tunes were quite often tinny slices of weirdness that meshed well with old Casio keyboards.

In the United Kingdom, he was a bit of a cult phenomenon, and frequently showed both up on television and as a frequent touring presence. (His music ain't half-bad, either.) Outside of the United Kingdom, Frank’s story has flittered in and out of mainstream notice for decades, most notably in 2014, when Jon Ronson, the famed author who once played in Frank’s band, wrote a movie based very lightly on Frank’s life. Michael Fassbender (himself a bit of a chameleon) hid below the mask in that flick, while Maggie Gyllenhaal was just one of the players in the band.

It was a nice way to honor Frank (Sievey died in 2010), but it wasn’t very accurate. If you’re looking for accuracy, you might be better off with Being Frank, an in-the-works documentary on both Sievey and Sidebottom. Steve Sullivan, who’s currently producing the film, says that the movie—which, unlike the Ronson production, is fairly low-budget and lacking any Oscar nominees—is currently in the editing process.

As forms of escape go, you probably can’t top putting a giant mask over your head.

(Thanks to reader Arianrhod Hyde for the suggestion, if that's your real name.)

Ernie Smith

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Ernie Smith is the editor of Tedium, and an active internet snarker. Between his many internet side projects, he finds time to hang out with his wife Cat, who's funnier than he is.

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