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Summary

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, inspired by his time in this great and bizarre band. Frank is set for release in 2014, starring Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Domhnall Gleeson and directed by Lenny Abrahamson.

Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie is a memoir of funny, sad times and a tribute to outsider artists too wonderfully strange to ever make it in the mainstream. It tells the true story behind the fictionalized movie.

Jon Ronson is an award-winning writer and documentary maker. He is the author of four best sellers, Them: Adventures with Extremists, The Men Who Stare at Goats, The Psychopath Test and Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries, and two collections, Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness and What I Do: More True Tales of Everyday Craziness. He lives in London and New York City.

©2014 Jon Ronson (P)2014 Audible Ltd

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting little tale

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, great fun and interesting.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Frank . . . . .

What does Jon Ronson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Laid back? Dead pan? Some i am sure will find his delivery boring. Myself, after i have got over the first five minutes, i find his delivery to be a major part of my enjoyment. In large part i think his lack of "colour" enhances his non-judgemental narrative of events. Strange also how his love and fascination of people shines through this dead pan delivery.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Just a short little tale , but full of lotd of interesting people

Any additional comments?

I really enjoy Jon Ronsons work and narration my only criticism of this eotk is that it just too short. Certainly left me wanting more

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good

I really liked it and how it was told in the style of a classic fable. Good but not great

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Film trailer

Any additional comments?

This short piece appears to be ultimately a good way to promote an upcoming film. This works for me, it was cheap and told me a potted history of the subject.

I knew nothing about Frank Sidebottom other than seeing the big head on tv a bit as a kid, iassumed it was a flash in the pan show ( i actually had it in my head he was a short lived gimmick from the word)

Very interesting to hear a bit about the potentially split personality behind the mask and in fact the whole band dynamic could have made for a longer book. Tasty bit of gossip regarding Mrs Merton( Caroline Aherne) which true or otherwise helps to place the story in an era for the reader/listener.

Id never heard of Jon Ronson, i was immediatelly at ease with his unique style. The fact he played a significant part in the story gave me confidence that i was getting mostly fact.

Overall im happy with this audiobook, mainly because its filled in a little gap i didnt even know i was missing. I now look forward to seeing the film!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kaggy
  • United Kingdom
  • 03-05-14

The the really interesting part of the 80s

Listening to Jon Ronson tell a story is like being lucky enough to sit next to the most charismatic guest at a wedding. Don't kid yourself that this is a one trick pony. In a very short time he covers a wide range of anecdotal stories about the outsiders of the music scene. Some are funny, some are sad and some are simply astonishing. I can't wait to see the film.
I defy anybody listening to this not to want to investigate further into The Shaggs.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Katy
  • Cheshire
  • 19-10-15

Looking forward to seeing the film now

This was short, interesting and read well. The voice was gripping and really drew me in.
I'm definitely looking forward to seeing the film now.
A quick listen and makes me smile 👍

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

just lovely

I love Jon Robson. I loved Frank Sidebottom. I loved this. A must listen xxx

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A charming, minor entry in the Robson oeuvre

Having seen the movie and being vaguely aware of Jon's link to the real life Frank Sidebottom this sounded like an interesting tale. The book chronicles the bizarre story of how Jon stumbled into the Frank Sidebottom Oh Blimey Big Band, and how whilst those around them succeeded, the core band struggled to garner even a cult following. The movie is touched upon briefly, but I would have liked to have heard more.

This is a very short book, but entertaining all the same and for Ronson fans, an easy purchase.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Seen the movie, read the book

I never knew Frank the movie was based on a real character. Who'd have thought? Jon has an interesting style - no ego - just tells it like it happened.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Jon Ronson is the best on Audible.

His voice, his story, his humour and his wit... Left me with no choice but to renew my monthly subscription.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A must read for those who loved the movie ☺

Awesome to hear about the inspiration behind one of the years best films. I always enjoy Jon Ronson's anxious delivery.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Joshua Kring
  • 06-05-15

Not My Favorite

Any additional comments?

I love Jon Robson's books, but this short little story was lacking something. I'm not sure what. I do know this was 10 times better than that God awful movie which I bought before listening to the story, but watched just a day or two later. Don't bother with that.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Pattywolford
  • 09-04-14

Now, looking forward to the movie!

Jon Ronson narrates this as well, and it is excellent, mostly because of his own insights as he reads his own words. This is my 4th Audible purchase of his books here. I would also have purchased The Men Who Stare at Goats, but the narrator is not Jon Ronson, and lacks the quality of his readings.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Spencer
  • 12-01-18

Fantastic Story about a No One from No Where

I bought this book because it is written and narrated by Jon Ronson. I'd never heard of Frank and didn't really care. I was confident Ronson could make a great tale out of the dullest material. Boy was I surprised! Frank is anything, but dull.

This multidimensional character steals the spotlight, but Ronson provides a vulnerable and insight look into his own life during this time. Ronson's perpetual self-awareness combined with Frank's carefree showmanship makes for a great combination.

I really enjoy Ronson's voice and look forward to listening to more of his work. Highly recommended on all levels.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Dubi
  • 31-07-17

Frankly, Not Enough

In his younger days, Jon Ronson played keyboards in a band fronted by Frank Sidebottom, a comic character who always wore a big plastic head. In 2014, Ronson co-wrote a screenplay that was a fictionalized version of his memoir of being in Frank's band. That film character was based on Frank Sidebottom but also incorporated elements of other outsider artists like Captain Beefheart and Daniel Johnston.

In this short audiobook, Ronson tells the non-fictionalized version of his time with Frank, as well as discussing outsider artists, including Beefheart, Johnston. and the Shaggs. What we have is typical Ronson -- droll, entertaining, illuminating, and as always perfectly narrated by Ronson himself.

But it's not enough. This should have been a full length book. There should have been full chapters on Beefheart, Johnston, the Shaggs, and other outsider musical artists like Gong, The Residents, Wild Man Fischer, Moondog, Tiny Tim, even William Shatner as a singer -- the proof is the chapter on Insane Clown Posse in Ronson's Lost at Sea, one of his very best pieces of work.

Jon, if this ever comes your way -- please, that would be an awesome book. For Jon's fans, this is a tasty little morsel, but it leaves you wanting for more, and not in the best sense of that phrase.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nina Gaby
  • 20-11-15

Jon Ronson can do no wrong!

Would you listen to Frank again? Why?

Yes, he is relevant and provocative. Great writer.

What did you like best about this story?

His gentle irony.And what a great story.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I chuckled throughout, but also resonated with the sadness.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • David Ferron
  • 07-11-15

Jon Ronson fan # (?)

What made the experience of listening to Frank the most enjoyable?

I really like Jon's voice. There is a really sensibility, and honesty to it.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The reflection on marginal artists

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Too many toys
  • 20-04-14

The weakest of Ronson's works

What would have made Frank better?

A real story

What was most disappointing about Jon Ronson’s story?

The story was far fetched and only marginally interesting

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Focus on another story

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Frank?

This might have made an interesting 30 minute or 1 hour story. It was appropriate as an anecdote not a full-length story.

Any additional comments?

Even Ronson fans (as I am) should avoid this one.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Stephen H
  • 26-05-18

Not the author's best

Jon Ronson once again delivers a tale in his own fascinating way. Unfortunately, there was not a lot of meat here, and the story suffers for that.

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  • jme
  • 17-11-17

Two thumbs up

Jon Ronson books are always worth the read/listen. This is is just as odd and entertaining as any other. 10/10 Would buy again.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • R. Cooper
  • 13-08-17

Great backstory, wish it was longer

Very short audio book but well worth listening to if you're curious after seeing the film. Felt like it could have been so much more fleshed out, though. The author's narration is fairly monotone but still charming because of the accent.