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Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie
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Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  381 ratings  ·  50 reviews
In the late 1980s Jon Ronson was the keyboard player in the Frank Sidebottom Oh Blimey Big Band. Frank wore a big fake head. Nobody outside his inner circle knew his true identity. This became the subject of feverish speculation during his zenith years. Together, they rode relatively high. Then it all went wrong.

Twenty-five years later and Jon has co-written a movie, Frank...more
ebook, 32 pages
Published January 16th 2014 by Picador
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Sam Quixote
Frank Sidebottom was a novelty act from the Manchester music scene of the late 80s/early 90s. Sporting a fibreglass cartoon head, Frank (played by Chris Sievey) would perform strange Beatles/Queen/Bruce Springsteen covers with his Oh Blimey Big Band, of which Jon Ronson was the keyboardist.

Ronson’s brief memoir comes out just as a movie version of Frank Sidebottom, starring Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhaal, is released and recounts the barmy days he was in the band. There isn’t much to t...more
Troy Blackford
Wow. I knew nothing of Frank Sidebottom before reading this - I had never heard of him or seen his iconic fake head. I just knew that I really enjoyed 'The Psychopath Test' by Jon Ronson and I was willing to give this inexpensive book a try. I really enjoyed it. It was a shock to me, going from knowing nothing about someone with such a strange career as Frank Sidebottom to reading about his life in depth, but it was a very interesting experience. Jon Ronson is a great journalist and writer and h...more
Leilah Skelton
I once saw Frank Sidebottom leaning up against the side of a Sheffield theatre, furtively smoking during the interval at his own show, 'headless', and half-shielded by the night. I found that I didn't know where to look; I didn't want to spoil the illusion of Frank Sidebottom by seeing the man, Chris Sievey, beneath that bizarre papier-mâché façade. I’ve always thought that when the truth of an illusion is exposed, a little of the magic dies.

This short book, however, retains a lot of that magic...more
Livinginthecastle
I remember Frank Sidebottom popping up on TV as a child, but I always thought he was some kind of children's entertainer like Roland the Rat or Timmy Mallett, but apparently I was wrong. He was the alter ego of a very strange man. This 'book' is more of an article, a puff piece for the film that is coming out soon, so we don't get much about Chris Sievey or Frank Sidebottom. If a proper book comes out I will certainly read it, because I need to find out more about this strange man and his papier...more
Brian
this was an audiobook. but, "book" might be too generous a word.

i had no idea what this was or was about going into it. i have never heard of this movie and, for all i knew, it was just a clever book title.

the entirety of this quick audiobook felt like it was an introduction. i was always waiting for some kind of story to begin, but there really didn't seem to be a story there.

if what i read is turned into a movie, it will be a horrible movie.
Richard Hare
Reading this made me wish I'd kept up with Frank after buying his debut single in 1984, at least to have seen him play live.

Then Ronson recalls Frank's biggest gig, at Wembley Stadium supporting Bros along with Double Trouble and Debbie Gibson. Oddly, I was there. Now wracking my brain to recall the events described...
Kenny
How on earth do you explain Frank Sidebottom without sounding like an absolute tool? A bloke in a massive paper maché head singing piss take songs in a weird voice, with, er, musically limited backing without it sounding like the worst joke ever? I first came across Frank as a kid when I played 'The Biz' on the Spectrum, written by arse-end-of-the-chart-botherer Chris Sievey of Chris Sievey and the Freshies, whose latest songs provided 8 of the ten tracks on the tape (and yes, the game was the l...more
Tim

I heard Ronson tell this story on a Richard Herring interview podcast. It was a well-honed extended anecdote, and the book doesn't add much other than is only 80 pages, including numerous fairly amusing photos. I mean amusing if you remember the 80s and/or are a Ronson and/or Sidebottom fan.

Ronson has a particular style - faux-naif might be the term. Sounds perilously close to whimsical (which I hate), but almost always steers clear of that; pretty much a master craftsman. I'm always thrilled to...more
Ian
Mar 26, 2014 Ian rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: music, weird
This is a short, interesting book about Frank Sidebottom (the guy with a papier maché head who enjoyed non-fame in the 1980s), Jon Ronson's time playing keyboards with Mr Sidebottom and outsider music in general. It is basically a taster for the film "Frank" (scripted by Mr Ronson), which is about a musical performer with a papier maché head who is similar but different to Frank Sidebottom. Like most books by Jon Ronson, the book is funny but also features wistful observations on the human condi...more
Tony
I bought this book after listening to the author talk about it on the WTF Podcast with Marc Maron. I’ve heard of his other books like The Men Who Stare at Goats and The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry, but never got around to reading them (or seeing the movie).

Frank is everything an eBook single should be: it tells a story that spans decades, it’s populated with unforgettable characters, and it has pictures!

The story poses the question: Does mediocrity condemn you to a l...more
Rob
In Frank, as with several of his other books, Jon Ronson welcomes his readers into some surreal and extraordinary life. This time, it's that of Frank Sidebottom, the enigmatic, paper-mache-headed frontman of several oddball English cover-bands, also known by his true name, Chris Sievey.

Like in his other books, Ronson takes a seemingly unsympathetic person's life and from it draws apparently universal conclusions about humanity. Frank is the story of an outsider, but more than that, it's a story...more
Michela
At first I thought it was quite a dull, not interesting at all account of who Frank really was. A mistake I did before, with longer fiction. When I got to the point where Ronson talks about the creative process of the film and how other works influenced it and what really happened to Frank I was hooked and amazed... and it suddenly finished.
What I can say is that Ronson seems a very good author and I definitely what to read some more of his stuff.
About Frank the movie, I think this little book g...more
Steven Pilling

Lets start with the basics , this is a very very short book.

Why 5 stars well i liked Frank i saw him live a few times and this book is at its heart a reflection of what i liked.

Ronson writes with love and affection about a somewhat complex man he also mentions The Shaggs and other outsider acts like Edward Barton.

It almost feels like beimng made to write about an ex girlfriend and remembering why they were your girlfriend in the first place.

It wont spoil you enjoyment of the film it will howe...more
Godzilla
A very short book, but a great insight into the world of Mr Sidebottom. I can't claim to be the biggest fan, but he always intrigued me when I saw him, and I enjoyed him in small doses.

This book unwraps some of the enigma that was Frank, and reveals the chaotic world in which he was formed, existed and revelled.

There's also an interesting aside around another strange music phenomenon, The Shaggs, which adds a further dimension.

I'll be off to visit the statue very soon
Kieran Kimberley
As a child I had many wonderful dreams about Frank Sidebottom, not knowing who he was but knowing the face! They were never nightmarish, but amusing. I have in recent years spent nights watching old videos on YouTube.
Reading this book has brought back all the fond memories that I never had and were never going to be mine to have. Enjoyed this more than I could describe here.
Jan
Jun 08, 2014 Jan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: kindle
A slim volume, more of an essay than a book. Amusing with a couple of "well I never knew that" moments. I haven't seen the film yet. I wonder whether people who have little or no knowledge of Frank Sidebottom but have seen the film will get anything out of this essay. I enjoyed it because I have fond memories of local minor celebrity Frank Side bottom.
Ed Timek
It seems that most of the low star reviews are from people who felt like they spent too much for such a small book. I have no such qualms, because I took it out of the Library, and I thought it was very enjoyable. I especially liked the section of the book devoted to The Shags. I look forward to seeing the movie.
Austin Wright
Well...I dunno...this seemed like would make an enjoyable wordpress article?? But a miniature hardcover book about a failed 80's gimmick that, thirty years later, raises enough money for a tombstone?

I dunno...seems like you couldn't give this book away...
Ruth
Very short book about a Frank Sidebottom, the cartoon-mask headed alter ego of a maverick seventies musician. Although I'd never heard of Frank before the book, Ronson's story made me wish I had. He seemed such a sad character, hiding behind the mask even with friends. Poor Frank.
Fiona Mcphillips
The only thing I didn't like about this book was that it was too short. That and finding out that Jon Ronson lived in Manchester at the same time as me and I never met him. A lovely tribute to the great Frank Sidebottom.
Elwood D Pennypacker
"What major star wouldn't want to play a man in a big fake head? Plus my story in the Guardian had a coming of age quality to it, like Stand By Me but with a man with a big fake head."

All that and the story of the Shaggs.
Fizzybenilyn
Less than 100 pages long, at least six of which were photos and another one devoted to a reprint of an article about Caroline Aherne, this is a bit of a waste of time.

The fact I paid £8 for it was a further kick in the teeth
Douglas MacKenzie
I didn't give this a rating as I found the subject uninteresting enough to get further than half way through it.

I find this odd because usually I can blitz through one of Ronson's books In a couple of sittings.
Caro
I normally like the stories of Jon Ronson, I already read 3 of his books and planning to read more. So when I knew he has a short book from his times when he was with a band I had my expectations. I was boomed when I finish this, narration is good, but the content... no so much, very short and it seems that he just took a few pieces of things that can go in other books or in a short documentary and put them all together to transform them in a book. Quite disappointing to be honest. Neither the s...more
Casey
I love Jon Ronson's writing, and I'm planning to see Frank in a couple of weeks at the LA Film Festival. This is a bittersweet little story to prepare.
Charlie Hay
Frank Sidebottom is a curious creation. And who better to tell his story than curious comedy writer Jon Ronson. Like many great artists, Frank was not appreciated in his own time. This little book is a perfect introduction into a crazy world of paper-mache heads and three cord songs, especially for someone that missed that period in time or isn’t from Timperley. This book is the truth which will go hand in hand with the fictionalised movie.
Shaun McAlister
I knew nothing of Frank Sidebottom beyond being the guy with a big fake head. I never listened to his music or saw him on TV. And in this short book Jon Ronson makes me feel like I missed out on a cultural phenomenon that everyone was aware of but me. A great read on the morning commute. I look forward to the film and a full biography.
Liz Neville
not really a book, more an essay with a hardback cover and some photos. it was ok in a music journalist kind of way
Andrew Stone
Good little read this mainly about Jon Ronson's time as the keyboard player in Frank Sidebottom's band.
Ronnie
Feels like I paid the price of a novel only to read a Guardian article. Very short, and not very informative.
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Jon Ronson is a writer and documentary film maker. His books, Them: Adventures With Extremists and The Men Who Stare At Goats were international bestsellers. The Men Who Stare At Goats was adapted into a major motion picture starring George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges.

He's written the popular "Human Zoo" and "Out of the Ordinary" columns for The Guardian, where he still c...more
More about Jon Ronson...
The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry Them: Adventures with Extremists The Men Who Stare at Goats Lost At Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness

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