As The Residents have always operated under a veil of obscurity, much attention has been focused upon the true identities of the individual members of the group.
Many rumors have come and gone over the years, some of which have been proliferated by The Residents themselves, with the assistance of their management company The Cryptic Corporation.
Possibly the most famous early rumor of the true identity of The Residents was that they were in fact The Beatles casually recording experimental music after their break-up using an assumed identity. A similar rumor about the mid-1970s recording act Klaatu saw that group's debut album become a sales success.
Another baseless rumor suggested that The Residents shared members with the obscure 1960s experimental band Cromagnon.
The Cryptic Corporation
Since 1976, much of the speculation about the members' identities has been focused upon the four founding owners of their management company The Cryptic Corporation; Homer Flynn, Hardy Fox, Jay Clem and John Kennedy. All four founding Cryptics are listed as collaborators with the early Residents on the 2013 compilation album The Delta Nudes' Greatest Hiss.
The Cryptic Corporation has always been open about the fact that Flynn produces the bulk of the band's artwork, and that Fox, until his retirement from the company in 2016, was their producer and arranger, primarily responsible for engineering and editing the group's recordings for release. Despite this, the Cryptics have consistently denied being part of the core membership of The Residents, instead acting as their management and spokespeople (first Clem, and later Flynn and Fox), as The Residents themselves do not grant interviews.
It was admitted in Theory of Obscurity: A Film About The Residents that during photo shoots and promotional appearances, the people in the costumes were not necessarily The Residents themselves, and some tours have included dancers in costume in addition to the performing band.
The Big Bubble
When The Big Bubble was released in 1985 with its album cover unusually featuring a photograph of four unmasked men, some fans questioned whether in fact these men (or some of them, or any of them) were The Residents. The Cryptic Corporation promptly denied that these men were members of The Residents, confirming that the four men were models hired to portray The Big Bubble, the fictional band represented on that album.
"Randy, Chuck, Bob, Carlos and Rico" and "Tyrone, Eekie, Erkie and Cha Cha"
The group (under the guise of "The World's Greatest Residents Cover Band") "revealed" their identities to be Randy Rose, Charles "Chuck" Bobuck, and "Bob", as well as "Carlos", the departed fourth member, in 2010, prior to their Randy, Chuck and Bob trilogy of performance tours which continued until 2017. Rose, the long-time lead singer of The Residents, began Tumblr and video blogs, while Bobuck, the primary composer for the group since their inception, began a prolific series of solo recording projects (or "contraptions").
Over the course of Shadowland, the final Randy, Chuck and Bob tour, Bobuck retired from performance, and then from The Residents entirely in 2016, to be replaced by a new member named "Rico" for the remainder of the Shadowland tour. Bobuck would continue his solo career independently of The Residents, managed by Hardy Fox who was retiring from The Cryptic Corporation at the same time.
In 2017, The Residents debuted a new four person line-up: singer Tyrone, guitarist Eekie, keyboardist Erkie, and percussionist Cha Cha, and announced a new tour, In Between Dreams, as "The REAL Residents (?)". Despite this apparant dismissal of their previous identities as Randy, Rico and Bob, Rose nonetheless is expected to feature in the group's upcoming feature film Triple Trouble.
"The Residents just came through here on tour and they are still mysterious. I am not in The Residents. I have no reason to pretend to be mysterious."
In his Hacienda Bridge newsletter in October 2017, at the conclusion of his serialized novella The Stone, Hardy Fox announced that he was the person known as Charles Bobuck, and thus, that he was the primary composer, arranger and producer of The Residents' music from their inception until his retirement from the group in 2016.
Following this, Fox began to record under his own name, beginning with a self-titled album in early 2018. His prolific recording activity continued with frequent releases until shortly before his death in October 2018.