Palmer Eiland (October 21st 1941 - April 10th 2017) was a friend and early collaborator of the group who would later become The Residents, living and working with them regularly. He was the brother of Barry "Red Wool" Eiland.
Occasionally referred to as "the fifth Resident", Palmer is most notable for having portrayed conjoined twin wrestler Arf Berry in the unfinished film Vileness Fats and on the song "Aircraft Damage" on the group's debut EP Santa Dog.
Palmer Eiland was born on October 21st 1941, in Shreveport, Louisiana to B.B. and Doris Eiland. He enrolled in Louisiana Tech University in 1959, and during his final year, met the people who would later become The Residents, who his younger brother Barry had likely befriended. One year following his the group and his brothers' graduation in 1968, the group, along with Barry and Palmer, moved to Califronia, during the height of the Haight-Ashbury scene.
Palmer frequently recorded with the group in their early years, and eventually moved to San Francisco with the group, setting up a living space in their new Sycamore Street studio, but quickly found himself disinterested in the groups work, preferring to read newspapers behind the locked door of his unpainted room. The group eventually became aware of piles of newspapers surrounding Palmer's chair which, over weeks and months, gradually grew taller.
In 1972, Residents Uninc decided to cast Palmer as the conjoined twin wrestler Arf Berry in their feature film production Vileness Fats. In character as Arf he would appear on Ralph Records' debut EP, Santa Dog, where he performed vocals on a song from the film's soundtrack, "Aircraft Damage". Filming proceeded smoothly enough, until the shooting of the Nightclub scene, which Palmer did not attend.
The Residents discovered that Palmer had attempted suicide, and, after comforting him, rescheduled the shooting. Three days later, as cast and crew again awaited him, The Residents learned Palmer had attempted to take his life a second time. By the end of that week, Palmer had unsuccessfully attempted to commit suicide five times.
He decided to move to Arkansas, leaving behind several large piles of newspapers, which The Residents proceeded to use to create sets, props and costumes for a short film. This footage would eventually feature in the 1977 music video for the group's album The Third Reich 'n Roll.
After leaving San Francisco he traveled from coast to coast across the United States and back on a BMW motorcycle, before travelling the world as a computer technician for geophysical research vessels for many years. After this, he worked with computer firms in Little Rock and Russellville, Arkansas, before retiring in 1987.
Following his retiremnet, Palmer settled in Fayetteville, where he lived until his death on April 10th 2017 at the age of 75. He was preceded in death by his brother Barry.
Palmer Eiland's role as collaborator of The Residents (like that of his brother Barry) was primarily behind the scenes and occurred largely within their early years.
Despite this, his influence on the group's activities was significant enough that he has sometimes been referred to as "The Fifth Resident", most recently in "The End of Arf", a short video about Palmer featuring Homer Flynn, which was released in 2018 to promote the upcoming release of the pREServed edition of The Third Reich 'n Roll.
Several months after the release of this video, Nolan Cook (a frequent collaborator of the group since 1998) dismissed the designation of Eiland as the fifth member of The Residents, claiming Eiland had merely followed The Residents to California "for a minute and tried to be involved. His attempts were rebuked."
Credits on Residents releases
- Santa Dog (1972), performance on 'Aircraft Damage'
- Mole Show/Whatever Happened To Vileness Fats? (1984) performance as 'Arf Berry'
- Meet The Residents Expanded (1988), performance on 'Aircraft Damage'
- Liver Music (1990) performance on 'Kick A Cat'
- Our Tired, Our Poor, Our Huddled Masses (1997) performance on 'Aircraft Damage'
- Refused (1999) performance on 'Aircraft Damage'
- Icky Flix (2001) performance on 'Vileness Fats'
- Live! ...On The Outskirts (2002) performance on 'Kick A Cat'
- Kettles Of Fish On The Outskirts Of Town (2003) performance on 'Kick A Cat'
- Oh Mummy! Oh Daddy! Can't You See That It's True, What The Beatles Did To Me I Love Lucy Did To You (2010),
- ERA B474 (2012) Performance on 'Aircraft Damage'
- The Delta Nudes Greatest Hiss (2013) Performance
- The Residents Present The Delta Nudes (2016) Performance
- The Third Reich 'n Roll pREServed Edition (2018) on 'The 'Oh Mummy' Show (Live, 1976)'
- Obituary at Legacy.com
- "That other dude followed them to Cali for a minute and tried to be involved. His attempts were rebuked." - Nolan Cook, The Residents Facebook group, October 26th 2018
Side A: "Fire" by Ivory and the Brain Eaters · Side B: "Explosion" by The Delta Nudes