Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie” as Want to Read:
Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  2,435 ratings  ·  180 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)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Frank, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Frank

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,435 ratings  ·  180 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie
Sam Quixote
May 20, 2014 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 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
Leilah Skelton
Mar 23, 2014 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
Chris Greensmith
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it
"El Madrid, it's nice to see ya
It's really nice to be here
I love you All"

Frank Sidebottom always seemed to be there, in the background of my youth but I never knew more than his paper maché head, but I knew from an early age that I was intrigued. In my adultness the film just appeared and I said to my girlfriend 'Frank Sidebottom, we should watch that'. She had never heard of him, but we watched the film and loved it, then Frank was forgotten again. Then Christmas 2018, my girlfriend, now my
Tobin Elliott
Dec 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics, non-fiction
Not bad. Interesting little insight into the story behind the movie. But really, nothing special.

In fact, the part I found the most fascinating was a little side-trip that Ronson took in the writing with a section that had nothing to do with Frank. He talked about this strange band called The Shaggs who had never heard music, never experienced it. Then out of the blue, their father pulls them from school and demands they practice because he had a dream or vision of them being huge musical stars.
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.
Peter Landau
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
There was a band called Frank Sidebottom Oh Blimey Big Band that I never heard of until I saw the movie inspired by the lead singer, who wore a giant cartoon head while performing and off-stage, too. I’m surprised he slipped under my weirdar, as I love strange music, which my wife calls bug music (she thinks it sounds like swarming insects — some does, and it’s great!). One-time keyboard player and current journalist Jon Ronson wrote FRANK: THE TRUE STORY THAT INSPIRED THE MOVIE about his time i ...more
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Pretty interesting story to read after loving the movie.
I didn't know anything about Frank Sidebottom or this movie going in, but this was pretty interesting!
Larkin Norred
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This story made me cry
Oct 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Nice little personal look back at Frank Sidebottom and niche cult artists that gives loads of details but also leaves out tons of stuff
Victor Bruneski
Jan 18, 2015 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
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
Richard Hare
Mar 02, 2014 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.
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
That was awesome!
I knew nothing about Frank and honestly just picked this up because it was written by Jon Ronson and it was at a discount books market esque place.
I started reading it right away because it was so short and was very pleasantly surprised! That was a lot of fun!
Simon Sweetman
Jul 15, 2014 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.
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Was good to get some background behind the film.
Feb 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, humor
I'll never be tired of this man's quirk, his love of the absurd and bizarre or his crazy experiences.
Paperback Cinema
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Frank is as weird and charming as its protagonist. The movie is a strange black comedy about a young keyboardist that joins a band. Interestingly, the musical group happens to be filled with former mental patients and the lead singer, Frank, wears a sizeable cartoonish mask over his head at all times. The movie has a lot of things to say about creativity and the pursuit of happiness, but the most exciting part for me is that it was partly inspired by a true story.

I knew next to nothing about the
Dec 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-owned
3.5 stars. This true story behind Ronson’s film (which I haven’t yet seen -- I’ve just placed it on hold from the local library) is at its strongest when Ronson is meditating on what it means to be marginal. Frank Sidebottom -- like The Shaggs, Daniel Johnston, or any number of unknown musical oddities laboring on the fringes -- does it not only for love of the music, but also because they MUST do it. They have no choice, whether it be from compulsion or from a mental itch that can only be scra ...more
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I listened to this book as a palate cleanse between the endless hours that is The Mists of Avalon. I have to agree with some of the other reviews. It wasn't bad. It was interesting, but nothing special. The more fascinating and sad parts of he essay were often when he wasn't talking about Frank but exploring the fringe artists that had gotten some fame and their connection to mental illness. How they can be viewed as strange and people consume them but no one stopped to think, 'maybe this person ...more
Jon Shanks
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
20p well spent! yes, that's how much I spent on a copy I found in a charity shop misfiled with children's books. It's a good little story, but, to be honest, I would've felt a little cheated to have paid the full price of £7.99 for what is, effectively, an article stretched out into a novella. But, then again, Frank Sidebottom, Chris Sievey as he was sometimes known to his closest friends, was someone who kept himself to himself, even to those who were a part of his inner circle, which for a whi ...more
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
An extended article really, about Jon’s time with Frank’s band as the keyboardist, then a brief diversion into discussing other marginal musical artists. He also discusses the background to the fictionalised movie, also called Frank, albeit in a few paragraphs.

I do remember seeing Frank Sidebottom on TV as a kid. The big papier-mâché head didn’t seem so strange in the context of children’s TV. It’s only when his persona resurfaced in 2014 as a result of the film that I recalled just how oddball
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
At under two hours, this barely qualifies as a long short story - there have literally been New Yorker pieces that have taken longer to listen to. But I am rapidly becoming a Ronson audio book completest, as there is something about the way his confident prose meshes with his British tendency to understate, which is increased by listening to him read it, that makes these books go down so smoothly.

In any case, another amusing tale from the margins, which is, as he says in this very volume, where
Darcy Cudmore
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an awesome little read!

I absolutely LOVED the movie Frank. So, I had to know more.

Upon looking online, I learned about the real Frank and just had to know even more. This book is a great look into this odd world of artists, indie music and the people involved.

John is a natural storyteller (see his other work) and makes this book feel so intimate and intense. I felt like I was interviewing John and, just before I would ask the question, he would provide the answer.

Watch the movie Frank, and
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm a huge fan of Jon Ronson, and this book was not one of my favorites of his. Because the topic is personal and not generally relevant to my life, I struggled to stay interested in the story line. I will definitely see the movie, and maybe that will open things up for me. I listened to the audiobook, and Jon Ronson is such a great narrator. Still, the content was lacking and the story line and timeline was somewhat confusing.
Chris Harris
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Very short account of Jon Ronson's encounters with Frank Sidebottom over the years. What there is is interesting to read, and Jon's writing style is amusing as always, but it's pretty thin on substance. Even when padded out with Jon's account of outsider musicians The Shaggs and several pages of photographs, it runs to just 70 pages or so. And I'm none the wiser for why Chris Sievey created Frank in the first place. I think I need to track down Mick Middles's biography of the man instead...
Trashed Panda Brew Co
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm giving this 4.5 stars... my only criticism being I wanted more.

A very honest and bittersweet and unglorified of band life. Maybe it's not everyone's experience but I could certainly identify with lots of aspects of the rehearsals and pressure that goes with performing.

If you enjoyed the film this is a great quirky accompaniment piece that you will be finished in a couple of hours.
Helsa Ardino
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Learned a lot about 2 really different musician experiments and of Jon Ronsons younger years as well. It is quite entertaining as it is. Somehow made me sentimental of the old days when I and my little brother with friends "performed" for pennies to our family.. or to be honest we really just demanded money from them and then tortured them with having to listen to our horrible "masterpieces" 🤣
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Call of the Weird: Travels in American Subcultures
  • Gotta Get Theroux This: My Life and Strange Times in Television
  • Ramble Book: Musings on Childhood, Friendship, Family and 80s Pop Culture
  • There Is A Happy Land
  • The Grip of Film
  • Different for Girls: A Girl's Own True-life Adventures in Pop
  • Agent Sonya: Moscow's Most Daring Wartime Spy
  • The Lost Lights of St Kilda
  • The Memory Illusion: Remembering, Forgetting, and the Science of False Memory
  • Get Happy: Introduction to Happiness
  • In the Habit: Introduction to Changing our Behaviour
  • Habits for Happiness
  • Who Killed Kurt Cobain?: The Mysterious Death of an Icon
  • It's Not a Rehearsal: The Autobiography
  • Making History
  • Life After Dark: A History of British Nightclubs & Music Venues
  • The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way)
  • City Lights: A Street Life
See similar books…
Jon Ronson is a writer and documentary filmmaker. His work includes the international bestsellers Them: Adventures With Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats, which was adapted into a major motion picture starring George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges.

A contributor to The Guardian, Ronson is the author of the columns "Human Zoo" and "Out of the Ordinary". He writes and

Related Articles

He's dallied with psychopaths and extremists—now Ronson tackles our outrage-obsessed social media culture in his latest nonfiction adventure, So...
11 likes · 3 comments
“For all our mythologizing, the margins can be painful and some people are there because they have no choice.” 3 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
More quotes…