Hardy Fox — primary composer, producer of cult band Residents
Hardy Fox, one of the founding members and creative forces behind the mysterious San Francisco experimental rock collective the Residents, has died at the age of 73. For real this time. The band confirmed the news in a statement on Tuesday, saying its composer and producer, who had battled brain cancer, “succumbed to a brief illness.” The news came a month after Fox preemptively announced his own death, changing the epithet on his website to read “1945-2018” and sending a message to his mailing list that said, “Probably the last of seeing me. Thanks for checking in.”
The Residents, who for a brief period were San Francisco’s biggest cult act behind the Grateful Dead, never officially revealed their identities, preferring to let their music speak for itself while the members performed wearing oversize eyeball masks, tuxedos and top hats.
All communication with the band went through its business arm, the anonymous Cryptic Corp., which it was later revealed was headed by Fox and the group’s co-founder Homer Flynn.
For years, they claimed they were not actually members of the Residents.
“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,” the statement said. “He was loved immeasurably and will be missed dearly.”
Few concrete details of Fox’s life are available. On his website, he said he grew up in Texas and, after graduating college, moved to San Francisco in 1967, where he started the band in 1972. Yes, Hardy Fox was his real name.
Over five decades and 60-odd releases, Fox served as the Residents’ primary composer and producer. The group sought to take simple pop songs and invert them with layers of feedback, skittering rhythms and found sounds.
In a rare interview with The Chronicle in 1997, Fox described the Residents’ aesthetic: “Grating. Raw. Basically everything that rock ’n’ roll should be — and pop had ceased to be — with people banging on things and creating a tribal attack on these bubblegum songs.”
Fox left the Residents in 2015, once he was unable to tour any longer, but continued to compose songs for the band, while working as a solo artist under various names such as Charles Bobuck, Combo de Mechanico, Sonido de la Noche, Chuck and TAR.
His most recent release, “Nachtzug,” under his real name, premiered this year and was intended as a final statement.
Fox is survived by his husband, Steven Kloman. Memorial services are pending.
The Residents, who never officially revealed their identities, used layers of feedback and found sounds.
Hardy Fox, co-founder of the avant-garde band, grew up in Texas and moved to S.F. in 1967.