Photo by Dennis Anderson
TEN YEARS GONE
June 21st 2020. Today is the tenth anniversary of the passing of Chris Sievey, at the untimely age of 54.
It was hard to get my head around it but when Chris died, it also heralded the sudden end for his alter-ego, the ‘real-life comic-strip’ character, Frank Sidebottom.
Photo by Karin Albinson
Ten years is a long time and a significant milestone. A lot has happened: A crowd-funded funeral with a huge, free festival to celebrate their dual lives, the fan-funded erection of a bronze statue in Timperley village, guaranteed to stand for 150 years, a Hollywood A-list actor portraying a fictional version of Frank in a feature film released worldwide, the acceptance of the entire Sievey archive into Manchester Central Library, a two month long exhibition to showcase Chris’s/Frank’s creative output... and a critically acclaimed documentary telling Chris’s virtually unknown and fascinating story.
For me, the last ten years have flown by. Rewinding to my first encounters, I started out as a Frank fan in the late 80s, before becoming good friends with Chris as I took on various duties to assist him with concerts, from 2005 until his death in 2010. Five years spent with Chris Sievey is a LONG time. He was intense to be around and he possessed the ability to cram an awful lot of truly memorable experiences into a very short period of time, if that makes any sense.
Despite his death, the intensity hasn’t really stopped. I have somehow been handed the responsibility of looking out for Chris Sievey’s posthumous best interests. Maybe I bestowed that responsibility onto myself...and that’s perfectly OK.
I’m proud of what we have achieved on his behalf during this last decade in which Chris/Frank have not been around. The community and fan-base we have been able to nurture upon the release of the Steve Sullivan documentary and the re-launch of Chris’s original mail-order company 11:37, is heart warming.
However, I think Chris would be most jazzed about his acceptance as an artist, culturally and academically. I like to think his life story follows that of a succession of other famous artists in that they only become truly appreciated after they are gone. As Frank, he was all things to all men: young kids, boozy football lads, gig-goers, comedy fans and high-brow art lovers. He was an utterly ‘ahead of his time’ upsetter and a champion of the underdog... and as time goes by, I believe his stature will only grow as he is recognised as the true artist he really was.
Photo by Phil Fletcher
I love this quote from the acting custodian of Chris’s archive, Manchester Histories Officer, Larysa Bolton:
“Archivists love to create order but Chris Sievey can’t be categorised—he’s a 20th century pop culture polymath. There’s chaos and precision, ordinary and extraordinary, and all manner of creation and art—it’s like looking through a kaleidoscope at the sunset over Timperley.”
Here’s looking forward to the next ten years!
Photo by Gemma Woods