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Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  1,318 Ratings  ·  112 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
ebook, 96 pages
Published January 16th 2014 by Picador (first published January 15th 2014)
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Sam Quixote
May 20, 2014 Sam Quixote rated it liked it
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
Troy Blackford
Jan 25, 2014 Troy Blackford rated it really liked it
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
Ana Maria Rînceanu
I read this in preparation for the movie and I'm glad I did so. The movie is great and this essay gave it another level of depth.
Leilah Skelton
Mar 23, 2014 Leilah Skelton rated it it was amazing
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
Victor Bruneski
Jan 21, 2015 Victor Bruneski rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-ebook
I was looking through Netflix for a movie to watch when I came upon one simply named Frank. The premise was strange but looked like it could be entertaining. It was about a guy who joined a band, who's lead singer wore a large paper mache head all the time. All the time even when he slept or had a shower. Strange yes, but the movie was fantastic, probably the best one I had seen all year to say the least (go watch it).

Watching it two times in a row wasn't enough, so I looked online for anything
Mar 31, 2014 Brian rated it it was ok
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.
Apr 20, 2016 Sarah rated it liked it
This book is only 70-something pages, and I was expecting it to be jam packed with super cool stories about Frank/Chris. Instead, there was hardly any genuine interaction between Frank and Jon. It was more a brief summary of Jon's life with Frank as a passing acquaintance than anything else - you get stories about friends of Frank, other musicians who rose to fame, what city Jon was living in during a certain year - and the whole time, Frank is almost never present. You briefly learn he has a wi ...more
Richard Hare
Mar 02, 2014 Richard Hare rated it really liked it
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...
Not quite as riveting as th film, but the book sure as hell explains why. It's a nice little look into how writing fiction based on fact can bring in any factual elements it needs or wants to make something great.
Feb 21, 2016 Romina rated it it was amazing
I'll never be tired of this man's quirk, his love of the absurd and bizarre or his crazy experiences.
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
Jul 02, 2014 Kenny rated it liked it
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
Aug 23, 2014 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Mar 26, 2014 Ian rated it really liked it
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
Aug 15, 2014 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 08, 2014 Rob rated it liked it
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
Becky Douglas
Apr 04, 2016 Becky Douglas rated it really liked it
I’m a big Jon Ronson fan, so when I saw that this book I knew I’d read it soon. Where the movie is a fictionalised account of Ronson’s time spent playing the keyboards for the Frank Sidebottom Oh Blimey Big Band, the book tells the true story that inspired the movie.

It compliments the movie perfectly and if you’re a fan of Ronson’s writing then you’re in for a treat. It’s a very, very short book (more of a long essay with a cover) and I finished it in less than 2 hours but I still feel its worth
Jul 14, 2015 Gemma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not really a book so much as a bound, extended article. It works well as an accompaniment to the movie but overall didn't really go into enough detail about anything to be considered better than 3*, I'd say realistically it was a 2.5*.
Whilst its sparseness does leave you wanting more, it also whets your appetite to seek out further stories about Frank, Captain Beefheart and Daniel Johnston and particularly to find recordings and other interviews with The Shaggs. If you're interested in bands or
Simon Sweetman
Jul 19, 2014 Simon Sweetman rated it it was amazing
A great story around the making of the movie and the events that inspired it. You can't really go wrong with Ronson.
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
Steven Pilling
Sep 17, 2014 Steven Pilling rated it it was amazing

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
Nov 24, 2015 HobbitFromPA rated it really liked it
Was good to get some background behind the film.
Ali Miremadi
Oct 23, 2014 Ali Miremadi rated it really liked it
Short, funny book about Frank Sidebottom, inspiration for the brilliant movie "Frank". Top passage: "Fiction seemed all about harnessing infinity. In fiction when you walk into a restaurant and you sit down there's nobody there and the restaurant doesn't exist. The restaurant is a horrific never-ending nothingness. So you make scattershot decisions about what the restaurant might look like, and who you might be sitting with...And one day you realize your decisions are no longer haphazard, but in ...more
I read this book after I watched the movie, by happen chance when it came across my Netflix, and it was interesting to know a little bit more about this Frank Sidebottom character. Although this "book" was more of a short story, or essay for that matter, it was great to know the reality behind the strange movie. That, in fact, there was a person like Frank who actually existed in real life. Mr. Ronson was able to reflect on Frank AND Chris, and we, as the audience, were able to look into Frank/C ...more
Dec 31, 2014 Ja rated it it was ok
A Flat-Account of a Three Dimensional Life
This greatly disappointed me; it's little more than an extension of a much briefer account in Ronson's earlier essay collection and led to a repellant and completely fictional film 'interpretation'. Over time, it seems as if Ronson is losing his knack for engaging the reader and falling onto a quasi-Broomfield shock journalism. The shorter essay was fine, this is a pinned-together filmic tie-in that was a waste of money if you already got the earlier col
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
Phil Marsh
Aug 20, 2015 Phil Marsh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite short and lacking in detail in some ways - but then Ronson is recounting a brief part of his life from long ago and doesn't want to impinge/overlap on another biography of Chris Sievey that was being written at the same time by someone else.

Some interesting insights into the non conformist nature of Mr Sievey, without any happy endings of course. I used to see a lot of FS live and really enjoyed it. The last time a few months before he died, he was making something of a come back but clear
Oct 21, 2014 Ammar rated it liked it
"Frank was our Pee-wee Herman. He was silly, unpretentious, irresponsible, homemade. He aimed low. That’s why people loved him. He was a child in a northern town remaining assiduously
immature in the face of adulthood"

Jon Ronson describes in this short memoir his short musical journey with Frank Sidebottom .. dude who wears a fake large cartoonish head and sings .. yet his real name is Chris .

When Chris wears the head and transforms into Frank. . the magic happens.
Alex Daniel
Apr 21, 2015 Alex Daniel rated it it was ok
Incredibly short in both length and insight, unfortunately. The tale of Frank Sidebottom feels so rich with intrigue, that it's surprising that Ronson can't spin a fascinating yarn out of it in either text or movie form. With that said, there are some funny moments here, but less than you may imagine for what is effectively a memoir for Ronson.

Check it out if it's on sale and you love Jon Ronson. You can skip otherwise.
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.
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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 about Jon Ronson...

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“For all our mythologizing, the margins can be painful and some people are there because they have no choice.” 2 likes
“Fiction seemed all about harnessing infinity. In fiction, when you walk into a restaurant and you sit down, there’s nobody there and the restaurant doesn’t exist. The restaurant is a horrific, never-ending nothingness. So you make scattershot decisions about what the restaurant might look like and the person you might be sitting with.” 1 likes
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