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Hardy Winfred Fox Jr. (also known as H., among various other aliases) (March 29th 1945 - October 30th 2018) was an American composer, artist, A&R manager and sound engineer who was best known for his role as co-composer, keyboardist and producer for the avant-garde group The Residents.

Fox was also a founding member of the group's management company The Cryptic Corporation, of which he was President from 1982 until his retirement in 2016. He began a characteristically prolific solo recording career in 2011, initially under the guise of Charles Bobuck, and then under his own name following the retirement of the Bobuck persona in October 2017.

Fox continued to record and release music regularly through his own Hacienda Bridge imprint until shortly before his death from glioblastoma on October 30th 2018. He was survived by his husband Steven Kloman.

Biography

Hardy Fox as a boy

Origins (1945-1969)

Hardy Winfred Fox Jr. was born March 29th, 1945 in Longview, Gregg County, Texas. As a child he would describe his nightmares to his mother by "banging on the piano and talking in strange voices".[1]

Around puberty, Fox discovered that his orgasms had "a strange aural effect"[1] on him, eventually learning that this was not usual from a friend he had been sexually experimenting with. He was briefly hospitalized, discovering that he suffered from a mild form of epilepsy which resulted in auditory hallucinations and seizures.

He enrolled in college at Louisiana Tech in Ruston, Louisiana, in the early 1960s, where he was assigned to share a dormitory with Homer Flynn (who originated from Shreveport). The two became fast friends, forming a loose "anti-fraternity fraternity" nicknamed "Delta Nu" with a number of people including Barry and Palmer Eiland, Randy Rose, Roger "Bunny" Hartley, John Kennedy, and Jay Clem.[2]

Fox moved to Northern California in 1968, staying in San Francisco for several months. Around this time he briefly managed a group named The Alliance, whose members included future collaborator and multi-instrumentalist Roland Sheehan. Around this time Fox briefly associated with the members of Jefferson Airplane.

Residents, Uninc. and Ralph Records (1969-1972)

Fox and Flynn moved into an apartment in San Mateo, California in 1968, and the "Delta Nu" group (who by now also included Sheehan, who had turned up at the apartment with a U-haul trailer full of musical instruments, including a Hammond organ) began recording a number of demo tapes containing musical improvisations, tape collages, loose attempts at covering contemporary pop singles, as well as a handful of coarsely performed originals.

The primitive recordings were made possible by Fox's acquisition of a high-end two track tape recorder as a gift from a friend who had recently returned from Vietnam. At the same time, the group experimented liberally with art and photography, with Flynn creating early silk-screen designs to accompany their increasingly elaborate and experimental recordings.

The remaining members of the group were reunited in San Francisco in 1969, and the group continued to record and compile demo tapes despite Sheehan leaving later in the year. Two of these early demo tapes, Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor and The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger, have never been officially released but have circulated widely among fans.

In 1971, Fox began a correspondence with Warner Bros. Records executive Hal Halverstadt, who had recently signed Captain Beefheart to Reprise Records. The group sent Halverstadt a demo tape entitled The Warner Bros. Album, featuring silkscreened cover art parodying the then-current design of Warner's record labels. He returned the demo tape (marked with an "A for Ariginality") addressed to the unnamed "Residents" of the San Mateo apartment. The group ultimately adopted this as their official name, first becoming known as Residents, Uninc..

Fox as Uncle Willy on the set of Vileness Fats

In 1972, Residents, Uninc. moved into a former print-works in Sycamore Street, San Francisco. The much larger space allowed the group to expand their operations considerably, and they released their debut EP, Santa Dog, at the end of the year through the imprint Ralph Records, newly founded by Fox, Flynn, Clem and Kennedy.

Meet The Residents and Vileness Fats (1972-1976)

In 1973 and 1974, Fox commenced a series of improvisational recording sessions with Residents, Uninc. and their friends, the bulk of which resulted in the group's debut studio album Meet The Residents, which was released on Ralph Records in 1974.

Around this time, Fox also took multiple roles in the production of The Residents' feature film Vileness Fats between 1972 and its abandonment in 1976, including cinematography, set design and construction, as well as the production of music intended for the film's soundtrack. Fox appears as various characters throughout the film, notably delivering the concluding poem in the guise of the nightclub proprietor Uncle Willy.

Foundation of The Cryptic Corporation (1976-1982)

After the group had officially become The Residents as a recording act in 1974 with the release of their debut album Meet The Residents, Fox and Flynn continued to use the designation of Residents, Uninc. for management, production and public relations purposes, and in the operation of Ralph Records. This partnership, and The Residents' need for a management and public relations organization so that they could focus on their music, eventually led to the foundation of The Cryptic Corporation by Fox with Homer Flynn, Jay Clem and John Kennedy in June 1976, after they had secured an even larger studio and office space at 444 Grove Street.

Fox had already informally acted as The Residents' sound engineer, producer and A&R, and Flynn had been responsible for the group's album covers and promotional art through his graphic design company Porno Graphics for several years. These efforts immediately were absorbed into the new corporation, as were the day-to-day operations of Ralph Records and all public relations efforts related to Ralph or The Residents.

Fox in Portland, photo by William Reinhardt

In 1976, Fox married Nessie Lessons; his relationship with her inspired the instrumental suite "Leapmus" and parts of what would later become Not Available. He continued his efforts producing, arranging and composing for The Residents (credited for his production work as The Cryptic Corporation) throughout the 1970s and 1980s, also contributing album cover art and design to Not Available in 1978 and Commercial Album in 1980.

President of The Cryptic Corporation (1982-2010)

Jay Clem and John Kennedy left The Cryptic Corporation, shortly prior to the start of The Residents' debut tour, The Mole Show, in October 1982. Fox became President of the company, a position he would maintain until his retirement from the group in 2016.

In 1984, Fox met and began a relationship with Steven Kloman, which resulted in a divorce from his wife Nessie Lessons. The divorce was amicable, and Fox and Lessons would remain close for the remainder of his life.

Hardy Fox, 1990s

In 1991, following a chance encounter at a Zen retreat in Big Sur, Fox recorded a number of pieces with former Ralph Records labelmate Fred Frith, initially intended for a possible Residents/Frith collaboration album. Ending up with less music than would fill an album, the recordings would be shelved until 2018.

In 1997, The Residents released an interpretation of N. Senada's composition Pollex Christi. This instrumental recording was later credited by Fox as being the first instance of an entirely solo recording being released as a Residents project. Another such project would follow in 2001, with the EP High Horses being released credited to The Residents' Combo de Mecanico.

Fox married Steven Kloman in 2008 following the legalization of same-sex marriage in California. They were married for the rest of Fox's life.

Randy, Chuck and Bob and retirement (2010-2016)

In 2010 The Residents began their Randy, Chuck and Bob trilogy of tours. in which the group took on the personae of Randy Rose (vocals), Charles "Chuck" Bobuck (keyboards) and "Bob" (guitar). The three tours, Talking Light, The Wonder of Weird and Shadowland, lasted a combined six years and the Randy, Chuck and Bob concept dominated the entirety of the group's output during that period of time.

Under the guise of Bobuck, Fox commenced a prolific series of solo recording works (referred to as "contraptions") in 2011. These were projects which, for one reason or another, did not fit neatly as a work by The Residents proper, akin to the earlier release of High Horses in 2001. These releases continued after Fox retired from the group's live performances in 2015, during their Shadowland tour. Despite initially intending to continue working with the group, Fox ultimately retired from The Residents and The Cryptic Corporation altogether in 2016.

Fox sold his share in The Cryptic Corporation to Cherry Red Records, handing The Residents' massive archive of material over to the company (which resulted in the pREServed series of expanded and remastered reissues). Shortly after this announcement, Fox started a new management company, Hacienda Bridge, to represent his own work, as well as that created under the Bobuck persona. He created a website under this name to aid with promotion of his new products outside The Residents' oeuvre, and began an email newsletter in which he elaborated on the concepts behind new and old projects and answered questions from fans.

Hacienda Bridge (2016-2018)

Charles "Chuck" Bobuck

In October 2017, Fox stunned Residents fans by announcing unambiguously at the conclusion of his serialized novella The Stone that he was the person previously known as Charles Bobuck, and thus that he was the primary composer and performer of The Residents' music from their inception until The Ghost of Hope in 2017. The Bobuck pseudonym was promptly and permanently retired after this announcement.

Following this, Fox began to release music under his own name for the first time, beginning with the release of his self-titled album (also known as Heart) in 2018. This was followed shortly thereafter by the release of the recently-completed 1991 Fred Frith collaboration album, A Day Hanging Dead Between Heaven and Earth.

Fox continued to promote these and subsequent releases through his Hacienda Bridge newsletter. Two other album releases followed the self-titled debut in 2018, including Nachtzug, a short album derived from the original demo recordings used by The Residents in the creation of The Ghost of Hope, as well as Rilla Contemplates Love, a single album-length suite of music pieces, ostensibly composed by a computer simulating a gorilla's thoughts on love.

Illness and death

Hardy Fox, 2018

Fox had suffered a number of increasingly debilitating health issues for a number of years, which were partly the cause of his retirement from touring with The Residents in 2015, and from The Cryptic Corporation the following year.

In September 2018, Fox was diagnosed with terminal glioblastoma. He changed his official website following his diagnosis to include his birth and presumed death years, with no further context, alarming many fans. Shortly after this, it was confirmed by numerous sources (including The Cryptic Corporation) that Fox was still alive, although he was not well and that his medical prognosis was not good. It was later explained that Fox had made this announcement as a means of taking advantage of a rare opportunity - to announce his death while he was still alive.

Following this, Fox made a public statement via his Hacienda Bridge newsletter, which said: "Hi from, me, Hardy. 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. 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. Love you all" [3]

Fox succumbed to his illness on October 30th, 2018. He was survived by his husband Steven Kloman.

Posthumous releases

Despite a statement on his official website stating that he would no longer record, Fox managed to complete one final project, 25 Minus Minutes, in late October 2018, a week prior to his death. This (as well as an unconfirmed number of other compiled releases) was given to Fox's friend, collaborator and owner-operator of Klanggalerie, Walter Robotka, following his diagnosis. 25 Minus Minutes was released posthumously on Klanggalerie in February 2019.

Fox's second posthumous release, Killing Time, followed in April 2020, with a rarities compilation entitled Oddities 2013-2015 (credited to Bob Uck and the Family Truck) in December. Another compilation of unreleased material entitled Fragments & Failures is expected for release at an unknown time in the future, having been delayed from its originally announced release date in January 2021.

Aliases

Throughout his life, Hardy Fox used a number of different aliases to obfuscate his identity and role in various aspects of The Residents' productions. Throughout the group's recording career, Fox credited himself simply as Residents, Uninc., The Residents, or The Cryptic Corporation when applying credit for his roles as composer, engineer and producer of their music.

Fox's additional roles in instrumentation, design and art, copywriting, web design and public relations were credited to a wide number of aliases (many of which were not known to be Fox until after his retirement from the group in 2016).

After adopting the persona of Charles Bobuck in 2010 for the group's Randy, Chuck and Bob Trilogy of tours, this practice expanded dramatically, with the Bobuck persona itself generating a number of additional nicknames and spin-off projects, before Fox's permanent retirement of the pseudonym in October 2017.

Discography

With The Residents (1972-2016)

As Charles Bobuck (2010-2017)

With Black Tar and the Cry Babies (2015-2017)

As Hardy Fox (2017-2018)

Posthumous

See also

External links and references

Wbrmx-sml-transparent.png The Delta Nudes / Residents, Uninc.
(1967 - 1974)
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