Other "Sinclair Singers" (mostly Chris Sievey)
The Biz. Chris Sievey. The Freshies. Frank Sidebottom. What do all these have in common? Yes, that's right - they're all somehow connected to the Sinclair machines in a particulary musical fashion. In fact, they are pretty much all the same thing.
Chris Sievey and The Freshies' greatest hit was probably the rather excellent "I'm In Love With The Girl At The Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk" (which later changed its name to "I'm In Love With The Girl At A Certain Manchester Megastore Checkout Desk", presumably because Sir Richard didn't think the song was a very good advert for his chain of record stores). This very song (along with a host of others, and an interview with Chris Sievey himself) ended up on a Spectrum game called "The Biz". The Biz, which was published by Virgin and contained the original version of the song, also had a competition in which you could go on stage with Chris Sievey and The Freshies. Wow.
The most interesting fact (possibly the only interesting fact) about The Freshies is that all their instruments and equipment were painted pink. This is true.
One of the singles Sievey released contained a ZX81 program which, if you started it at exactly the right time, would work in sync with the music (the single was called "Camouflage" and was the world's first fully animated real-time computer generated pop video... probably). Other connections with the Spectrum include a couple of games featured in Crash, one of which involved you rescuing an amoeba which had "got lost in the vastness of space one tea-time".
Chris' connection to Sinclair Research is obvious. By releasing singles with ZX81 programs on the tape and making sure his album had a Speccy game on it, Chris showed his fans* how great the Sinclair machines really were. Either that, or he was trying to convince the Sinclair community to buy his records. Alas, his career came to a sudden end, when Sir Clive paid him to keep out of the Sinclair market (apparently he was harming sales by forcing all Sinclair owners to listen to his music). Rejected, alone and afraid, Chris decided there was nothing left for him. He changed his name back to Frank Sidebottom, and decided to move to Australia in order to play a minority part in Neighbours. Probably.
He recently came back to play a minority part in low-budget cable TV channel Challenge TV's low-budget "game show" Endurance UK 2. Look out for him - he's the one with the PVC leather shorts, fake moustache, Nazi SS helmet and paper-maché head.
Oh, and he apparently had a hand in creating that "Mrs Merton" character on TV: a fact backed up by Frank's songs entitled "Mrs Merton" and "Mrs Merton's Baby".
"I'm In Love..." is available on an album called "Punk: Lost & Found". Unfortunately, the chances of you actually finding a shop which sells it is pretty remote. You can get Some Long And Some Short Titles from Cherry Red though.
Sadly Chris - and Frank - left us permanently in 2010. The Guardian have a wonderfully-written tribute to this talented entertainer on their website, and you can read more on YSAC at the links below.
- Track Listing from The Biz
- Frank Sidebottom's Famous Moments In Music History
- More Spectrum audio tracks
Thanks to comp.sys.sinclair people for some of the information
* or he would have done, if he had any