According to Pitchfork, Residents composer and producer Hardy Fox has died from brain cancer. The experimental band confirmed the news with a statement on Twitter, highlighting Fox’s “instinct for leadership and direction” as well as his “indelible” influence on The Residents. The statement also says that Fox’s musical ability was “unique, highly refined, and prolific,” and he was “blessed with a vital sense of aesthetics, a keen ear, and an exquisite love of the absurd.” Fox was 73.
Fox was born in Texas but moved to San Francisco as a young man in the ‘60s and met a group of avant-garde musicians who would eventually don eyeball masks and become The Residents. Alongside some of the band’s friends and collaborators, specifically Homer Flynn, Jay Clem, and John Kennedy, Fox helped form The Cryptic Corporation, a group tasked with managing The Residents and essentially acting as its public face. The actual members of The Residents have always been very secretive, with all of the founding members of The Cryptic Corporation denying having ever been a part of the band itself.
On more than 30 albums released under the Residents name, though, Fox anonymously acted as the primary composer and producer, keeping his direct involvement in the music a secret until just last year. However, he and other Cryptic Corporation members would occasionally give interviews on behalf of The Residents, fueling the theories that they were actually the band members themselves. Later in the band’s run, when the formerly four-person group reunited as a trio, the members were given fake names—Randy, Chuck, and Bob, with references to a Carlos who quit. Whoever was really in the band, Fox is no frequently credited as a co-creator or co-founder.
Earlier this year, Fox himself addressed his illness by posting “1945-2018" on his personal website, despite still being alive. The Residents’ website noted—with a bit of dark humor—that, seeing as how Fox was “very ill,” he “seized the opportunity to scoop everybody on an autobiographical detail that very few get the chance to share.”