Night Flight remembers Hardy Fox, primary composer & co-founder of The Residents

By on October 31, 2018

We were saddened to hear the news this week that Hardy Fox — co-founder and primary composer of the avant-garde art rock collective the Residents — lost his battle with brain cancer. He was 73.

We thought Night Flight fans might want to take another look at “The Residents: Video Profile,” which originally aired on February 18, 1986, as it features several of their videos, plus interview segments and more. You’ll find it streaming on Night Flight Plus.

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Here’s the official statement from the Residents’ Facebook page:

“It is with great sorrow and regrets that The Cryptic Corporation announces the passing of longtime friend and associate, Hardy Fox. As president of the corporation from 1982-2016, the company benefited from Hardy’s instinct for leadership and direction, but his true value came from his longtime association with The Residents.”

“As the group’s producer, engineer, as well as a co-creator and collaborator on much of their material, Fox’s influence on The Residents was indelible; despite any formal training, his musicality was nevertheless unique, highly refined and prolific.”

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“Blessed with a vital sense of aesthetics, a keen ear, and an exquisite love of the absurd, Hardy’s smiling face was a constant source of joy to those around him. He was loved immeasurably and will be missed dearly.”

“After a series of recent health problems, Hardy succumbed to a brief illness, He is survived by his husband, Steven Kloman [voice actor for the Residents’ Freak Show]. An announcement regarding memorial services will be forthcoming.”

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An official Cryptic Chemical Toilet Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Hannover Germany, 1999, featuring Hardy Fox on the right (photo by Mama Ralph)

From his bio on HardyFox.com: “Hardy Fox grew up in Texas. After college he moved to San Francisco reveling in the free love days of 1967-68. He co-founded the much loved cult band, the Residents, where he was primary composer.”

Read more about Hardy Fox & the Residents below.

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Warning: video contains orange

Earlier this year, Night Flight contributor Andre Perkowski posted this digital bit of psychedelia (“Trump”) by Hardy Fox on Youtube.

As you’ll see, it features “2D nerve damage-assisted digital painting, 3D Oculus Quill VR doodles, a few scraps of Super-8. Plus found footage snippets from: Tayna Vechnoy Nochi, Haxxan, Gizmo!, the old Batman & Robin Republic serial.”

“I approve this message.” – H. Fox

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For five decades, The Residents chose to remain anonymous, but there were always hints along the way as to their actual identities — “representatives” from The Cryptic Corporation who spoke for the group.

Their main mouthpiece, Homer Flynn, sounded an awful lot like the singing/reciting voice on the Residents’ albums (later publicly named as “Randy” and still a recording and touring member).

That anonymity allowed the band members to have a lot of freedom to express themselves however they wanted, avoiding “hero worship” and the other pitfalls that hamper other recording and performing art rock ensembles of similar stature (what are we saying, there aren’t any other groups like the Residents!).

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After retiring from The Residents in 2016, Hardy Fox published This is for Readers, a free pdf book detailing his life story, which includes tidbits about his homosexuality, the strong link he’d always felt between orgasm and music composition, and life with his husband as they settled down on a rural chicken farm.

“I did the civil thing,” he writes. “I bought a farm and became a chicken lord. Beware of chickens.”

“The idea of working on music without being bothered by people was utopian. Even close friends and neighbors didn’t know what I did for a living. The brief explanation, that I scored gay porn films, usually kept people from wanting to know more.”

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Just a month ago, Fox had preemptively announced his own death on Facebook:

“Yes got sick, making my pass out of this world, but it is ‘all’ okay. I have something in my brain that will last to a brief end. I am 73 as you might know. Brains go down. But maybe here is my brain functioning as I’m almost a dead person just a bit of go yet. Doctors have put me on drugs, LOL, for right now. Anyway. Probably the last of seeing me. Thanks for checking in.”

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The Residents have operated under anonymity since their formation in 1969, releasing their debut single “Santa Dog” in 1972 and the Beatles-mocking debut LP Meet the Residents in 1974 on their own Ralph Records.

Over the course of nearly fifty years, the Residents released over sixty records, ranging from avant-garde deconstructions of popular music, to surrealistic conceptual pieces, to more accessible commercial releases.

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In addition to his work with The Residents, Fox recorded as a solo artist under various names including Charles Bobuck, Combo de Mechanico, Sonido de la Noche, Chuck, and TAR, among others.

A complete list would also include:

Dead Eye Dick (13th Ann Tour)
Max (Pollex Christi)
Carlos Bobuck (music)
Bobuck (music)
Bob Uck (music)
Tar and the Cry Babies (music)
Big Brother (web site)
BB (web site)
Will Rothers (web site)
Rebecca Rothers (writer)
Sammi Selmo (graphics)

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In October 2017, Fox confirmed he was Charles Bobuck and a member of the Residents.

He then began releasing music under this real name, but stopped making music earlier this year.

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“Rebecca Rothers,” writing on HardyFox.com: “2018. Hardy no longer records anything at all. That era ended. Perhaps even death was not the reason. He was thinking more and more that he had completed his personal expectations.”

“Life is a constant change for everyone.”

R.I.P. Hardy Fox.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.