Hardy Fox — pri­mary com­poser, pro­ducer of cult band Res­i­dents

San Francisco Chronicle (Sunday) - - BAY AREA | LIFETRIBUTES - By Aidin Vaziri Aidin Vaziri is The San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle’s pop mu­sic critic. Email: avaziri @sfchron­i­cle.com Twit­ter: @Mu­sicSF

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.

Res­i­dents pho­tos

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.

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