Charles Bobuck (also known as "Chuck") (1945-2018) was the primary composer, arranger and keyboardist for The Residents from their inception in the mid-1960s as The Delta Nudes, until his retirement from the group in 2016.
From 2011 until 2017, Bobuck engaged in a prolific solo career, freely exploring a number of ideas that did not fit neatly into The Residents' already considerable oeuvre.
Around puberty, Bobuck realised that his orgasms had "a strange aural effect" on him, eventually learning that this was not usual from a friend he had been sexually experimenting with.
Bobuck was briefly hospitalized, discovering that he suffered from a mild form of epilepsy which resulted in auditory hallucinations and seizures.
The Delta Nudes (1963-1972)
Bobuck met Randy Rose and Roger "Bunny" Hartley students at Louisiana Tech in Ruston, Louisiana in the early 1960s, shortly thereafter forming a loose group of like-minded eccentrics and artists, an "anti-fraternity fraternity" jokingly named "Delta Nu".
The group included a rotating ensemble of friends, including brothers Barry and Palmer Eiland, and the four people who would later manage the group as The Cryptic Corporation: John Kennedy, Jay Clem, Homer Flynn, and Hardy Fox.
Bobuck got the nickname "Chuck" from Rose during this time, due to Rose's obsession with the popular song "The Name Game" - the conventions of the titular game meaning that "Chuck Bobuck" ends up rhyming with the word "fuck".
In 1968, Bobuck, Rose and the Hartleys, growing tired of life in the south, all headed for northern California. After staying in San Francisco for several months, where Bobuck briefly associated with a music group named O-bay Scooplaws, the trio ended up in San Mateo, where they decided to remain, living and working in near-total seclusion. Flynn, Fox, Clem and Palmer Eiland all moved to San Francisco in 1969, effectively reuniting the "Delta Nu" group for the first time in more than a year.
By this time the group had begun to experiment with painting, silk-screening, and photography, but despite a mutual interest in music and sound in general, Bobuck had not yet begun to experiment with making music. This would change when he and Rose met multi-instrumentalist Roland Sheehan, who had turned up at their apartment bearing a U-Haul trailer full of musical instruments, including a Hammond B3 organ. Around the same time, Bobuck also received a high-end two track reel-to-reel tape recorder as a gift from a friend who had recently returned from Vietnam.
The instruments and tape recorder allowed them to make a number of primitive recordings, consisting of home studio experiments, early compositions (such as "Moonman", recorded after the moon landing in 1969), improvisations, jams, and abortive covers of contemporary pop songs. Sheehan left San Mateo later in 1969, however by this point the group had gathered enough recorded material and pawn shop musical instruments to continue recording and compiling tapes without the assistance of the more musically proficient Sheehan.
Most of these early recordings were supposedly destroyed by The Residents in the 1970s, though some surviving artifacts have surfaced, with excerpts featuring on compilations such as ERA B474 and The Delta Nudes' Greatest Hiss.
In 1971, Bobuck and the unnamed group created two demo tapes for submission to Warner Bros. Records executive Hal Halverstadt; The W***** B*** Album and B.S., adopting the name Residents, after Halverstadt had addressed the unnamed group that way when returning The W***** B*** Album to the San Mateo apartment with a polite rejection note.
Composing and arranging for The Residents (1972-2001)
The group's debut album, Meet The Residents, was compiled by Fox and Bobuck in accordance with Bavarian avant-garde composer and theorist N. Senada's Theory of Phonetic Organization, partly from a series of sessions that the group had recorded with various friends every Tuesday for several months. The album was released in 1974, and sold only forty copies in its first year.
This was followed by the sessions for Not Available, the group's second album, which the group shelved after completion, in accordance with Senada's Theory of Obscurity. The Residents had also adopted this theory by choosing not to credit themselves personally on their albums or in their press releases, and by appearing only in costume in promotional photos, album art, and in their then-rare live performances.
Bobuck's composition and production work featured on The Residents' "classic" run of albums through the 1970s, which would gain the group increasing notoriety and appreciation from the music press, their fans, and their peers.
Increasing independence and departure from The Residents (2001-2016)
Throughout his tenure as the primary composer and instrumentalist for The Residents, Bobuck regularly developed ideas that were considered by other members of the group not to constitute Residents releases proper, but rather as related off-shoot projects. The first example of what would later become known as "Charles Bobuck Contraptions" appeared in 2001 as the EP High Horses, credited to The Residents' Combo de Mecanico.
A similarly credited project, the album Coochie Brake (this time credited to The Residents' Sonidos de la Noche) appeared ten years later following the reveal in 2010 of the identities of Randy, Chuck, Bob and Carlos as the members of The Residents.
Following this, Bobuck began to release solo works, or "contraptions", under his own name, officially beginning in 2011 with the release of Dolar Generar in 2011, and continuing with Chuck's Ghost Music, Codgers on the Moon in 2012, and Life Is My Only Sunshine in 2013. The Highway followed in 2014, as well as Roman de la Rose (The Pink Romance), a tribute to Roman, Bobuck's husband of several years.
In 2015, nearing the end of Shadowland (the final installment of the Randy, Chuck and Bob trilogy of tours), Bobuck retired permanently from live performance with The Residents, citing health concerns. Initially Bobuck had intended to continue composing for The Residents, having always preferred his work in the studio to touring as a performance group, but Bobuck would ultimately retire from the band entirely in 2016, with some of his final contributions to the group being featured on their 2017 album The Ghost of Hope.
Retirement and "contraptions" (2016-2017)
Following his retirement from the group, Bobuck continued to release "contraptions" which he promoted through his website Hacienda Bridge (and its fortnightly newsletter), including What Was Left of Grandpa (which had originally been intended as a Residents album) in 2015.
Bobuck was particularly prolific in 2016, issuing a large number of releases, including the novella with music THIS in 2016. 2017 saw the release of the 1960s pop inspired album Nineteen-Sixty-Seven, the Meet The Residents cover project Clank Clank Clank, and a series of collaborations with his manager Hardy Fox.
The Stone and death (2017-2018)
At the conclusion of Hardy Fox's serialized novella The Stone in October 2017, it was revealed that Fox himself was the true identity behind Charles Bobuck, and therefore the primary composer and arranger for The Residents from their beginning until his retirement.
Shortly after this, Fox updated his official website to state that he had decided to stop recording as Bobuck "when the pseudonym fell from a tall building head first. It will hit the sidewalk eventually and explode like boiled cabbage."
Following this announcement, Fox then retired the Bobuck persona permanently, releasing a series of albums under his own name before his death from brain cancer on October 30th 2018. Two posthumous releases followed his death, both credited to Fox.
Discography with The Residents (1972-2016)
Solo projects credited to The Residents / Other Artists
- Pollex Christi (1997)
- In Between Screams (Intermission Music From The Residents' Wormwood) (1999)
- High Horses as Combo de Mecanico (2001)
- Dogtag (Bunny Intermission) (2009)
- Hades (2009)
- Chuck's Ghost Music (2011)
- Coochie Brake as Sonidos de la Noche (2012)
- Halloween (2013)
- Mush-Room (2013)
- Randy Rose
- The Delta Nudes
- The Residents
- Combo de Mecanico
- Sonidos de la Noche
- Black Tar and the Cry Babies
- Hardy Fox