Hardy Fox, the primary composer for the avant-garde musical collective known as the Residents, has died. According to a post on the Residents’ website, Fox “succumbed to a brief illness” after “a series of recent health problems.” A banner atop Fox’s website elaborates that brain cancer was his ultimate cause of death. He was 73.
Born in 1945, Fox grew up in Texas and eventually moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, where he met the other founding members of the Residents in high school in the early 1960s. In 1966, a year after they began to make art together, they moved to the San Francisco area — San Mateo at first, and then San Francisco proper.
According to their Twitter bio, the group officially formed in 1972. Their music and live shows were more like performance art, with elaborate costumes constantly shrouding their identities as they unraveled a complex tangle of ideas. Their work often parodied mainstream pop and classic rock or delved into experimental forms such as noise and tape collage.
In 1974, the Residents released their debut LP, Meet The Residents, the first of more than 60 albums. They also released a number of DVDs and short films, composed the score for other movies, and were among the first to explore the creative potential CD-ROMs. They referred to themselves as employees of a group called the Cryptic Corporation, of which Fox was “president.”
Although Fox retired from the Residents in 2015, the group remains active, and he continued to be involved in their creative process. Within the last few months alone they’ve released a crowdsourced album called I AM A RESIDENT!, another album called Intruders, and a book called The Brickeaters, A Novel by The Residents.
Here’s the statement from the Residents’ site:
It is with with great sorrow and regret that The Cryptic Corporation announces the passing of longtime 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 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. 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 will be missed.
After a series of recent health problems, Hardy succumbed to a brief illness. He is survived by his husband, Steven Kloman.
And here’s a succinct bio from Fox’s own site:
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.
Hardy retired from The Residents in 2015 but continued to compose for the group through 2018. In addition to his work with that band, he has recorded as a solo artist under various names including Charles Bobuck, Combo de Mechanico, Sonido de la Noche, Chuck, TAR, among others.
Below, check out some of Fox’s work and an interview with Fox from 2008’s Bunny Boy tour.