Hardy Fox, a founding member and main composer of the mysterious avant-garde art rock collective the Residents, died at the age of 73 following a battle with brain cancer.
“It is with great sorrow and regret that The Cryptic Corporation announces the passing of longtime associate, Hardy Fox,” the band said in a statement.
“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.”
The Residents continued, “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.”
In September, Fox preemptively announced his own death on social media. “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,” Fox wrote. “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.”
Despite the Residents’ desire to stay anonymous over their five-decade-long history – The Residents are “a group of people who work together based on shared ideas rather than their craft with a musical instrument,” Fox told the Quietus in 2011 of the always-disguised band, which obscured the identities of its members – Fox was ultimately revealed as, along with Homer Flynn, one of the founders and primary composers of the group.
The Residents released 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 50 years and over 60 albums, the Residents developed a cult-like following with their over-the-top live performances, technological savvy and distinctive brand of rock music. The Residents are also one of the few artists to have their works exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art.
“The Residents admire bubblegum music – always have — for its simplicity and its directness and its ability to affect the public. At the same time it’s irritating,” Fox told the San Francisco Chronicle in 1997 of the collective’s music. “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 officially retired from the Residents and the band’s all-encompassing business arm the Cryptic Corporation in 2015, the same year a documentary about the group, Theory of Obscurity: A Film About the Residents, was released.
“Despite how difficult it is for people to accept, the Residents is a concept, not a band,” Fox said in a 2017 interview. “Concepts are free to take various forms, even ones that superficially seem like a band. Touring requires the illusion of a band. Basically the organizing team assembles the resources required to make a concept work. As dry as that sounds, it is what producers do, and the Residents is a production.”