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Disfigured Night (originally titled Disfigured Transfigured Night, sometimes subtitled The Saga of Silly Billy) was a live performance piece performed by The Residents between May and October 1997 in California and Germany, culminating in a run of five shows at the Fillmore.

Disfigured Night, while never recorded in the studio by the group, has since been issued on a number of releases, including Live At The Fillmore in 1998, the 1997: The Missing Year series of digital releases in 2009, and the Klanggalerie compilation Disfigured Night in 2016.


Disfigured Night began life in Spring 1997, as an experimental, classically-styled 15 minute MIDI instrumental arranged by The Residents, inspired by their recent recording of their late mentor N. Senada's 1937 composition "Pollex Christi".[1]

A few weeks later, The Cryptic Corporation received a phone call from their long-time lighting collaborator Chris McGregor, inviting The Residents to perform at a fundraiser event he was working on, for the San Jose Tech Museum at Adobe's world headquarters. Looking for "stimulation and new directions", the group accepted McGregor's invitation.[2]

With little time to prepare, The Residents took the 15 minute instrumental, added lyrics from selected tracks from their back catalog, and performed it as a suite alongside some unfinished sketches and a newly-arranged version of "We Are The World".[2]


At the Adobe headquarters, The Residents (featuring vocalist Molly Harvey, in her first live appearance with the group)performed for a "small, but wealthy crowd" of "rich nerds", perched thirty feet above the entrance to the building's cavernous lobby, surprising the patrons as they entered the event. The Residents performed at the Adobe headquarters four times in one night, and then quickly left town.[3] A recording of one Adobe show as released in 2009 as 1997: The Missing Year - Adobe Disfigured Night.

Volunteering alongside McGregor at the Adobe event was house manager for The Fillmore in San Francisco, who saw The Residents' performance and asked the group to perform five shows at the iconic venue the following Halloween. Having never played the Fillmore, The Residents immediately accepted, and began preparations for the upcoming shows.[4]

Shortly thereafter the group received another invitation, this time from the cigarette company Marlboro, to perform a thirty minute set at the Poppkomm music trade show, held at the Cologne Music Hall in Germany. The group's performance at this show would be the focus of Marlboro's advertising at the event; a short performance of around twenty to thirty minutes, to be performed three or four times with a changing audience (limited to people who won tickets by responding to cigarette advertisements).[4]

The Residents accepted Marlboro's invitation, choosing to adapt a segment from their earlier Adobe performances into a 30 minute performance piece, now officially titled Disfigured Night. The group flew to Germany and performed the show (promoted as "The Marlboro Eyeball Experience") four times in one night on August 16th, with one of the shows being shot on videotape by the group's friend John Payson, and later broadcast on national German television.[4] The footage was released on VHS in 1999 by The Cryptic Corporation, and reissued on DVD in 2004 by Ralph America.

By Halloween, Disfigured Night had become a tighter, two-act performance; for the first act The Residents assembled a selection of music from their recent CD-ROM era,[5] whereas the second act featured the "Disfigured Night" suite, as heard in the Marlboro shows. This version of the show was performed over five nights at the Fillmore between the 27th and 31st of October 1997; the final show was released on CD the following year as Live At The Fillmore. A recording of a dress rehearsal of the first act of this performance was issued in 2009 as 1997: The Missing Year - The Fillmore Dress Rehearsal (Act One).


Disfigured Night tells the story of a mute clown, Billy, who has a strange gift - by touching a person or object, he can "remember" the most painful events associated with him, her or it. By touching these awful memories, Billy feels that he is releasing them, and this causes him to always have a "sappy, smiling expression" on his face, earning him the name "Silly Billy".

One day, Silly Billy finds a one-legged monkey who had previously belonged to a one-legged, golden-haired girl. The girl's song fills Billy's head, and he vows to reunite the two. Billy discovers he is no longer immune to the pain he feels when he touches people - it begins to affect him directly. Billy's only consolation is the monkey, and when the monkey dies, Billy withdraws into himself.

Billy finds a wrapped present, which he discovers contains the dead monkey's severed head. The head bites off Billy's leg, and when he looks in a mirror he discovers that he has transformed into the golden-haired girl whose song had haunted him.

Set list

Benny The Bouncing Bump

Adobe Disfigured Night, May 1997

Marlboro Eyeball Experience, August 16th 1997

  • Disfigured Night
  • We Are The World

Disfigured Night at The Fillmore


Billy and Monkey

Adobe Disfigured Night

  • May 1997 - San Jose Tech Museum Benefit, San Jose, CA, USA (four shows)

The Marlboro Eyeball Experience

  • August 16th 1997 - PopKomm Music Festival, Cologne Music Hall, Köln, Germany (four shows)

Live at the Fillmore

  • October 27th 1997 - The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA, USA
  • October 28th 1997 - The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA, USA
  • October 29th 1997 - The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA, USA
  • October 30th 1997 - The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA, USA
  • October 31st 1997 - The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA, USA 


We recorded the 2006 album Disfigured Night for Marlboro and went to Germany for a one-off televised event, which was a total trip.

I can’t remember which bar we were at, but we were rehearsing for the Germany show, and I recall Fox coming up to me and saying the legendary concert venue Fillmore East had asked the Residents to do a five-night culminating midnight show on Halloween and that I was going to sing. I was hesitant, but that moment really changed my life. If these guys believed I could sing, then I believed it too. When Fox told me I could sing, it helped me remember something about myself and helped me grow in a way that I never would have. He played an incredibly important role in my life, like a fairy godfather almost.

- Molly Harvey, Artsatl Interview, 2018

Related releases

See also

External links and references