The Delta Nudes (also known as Delta Nu, Loss Leaders, Spontaneous Cumbustion, Ivory and the Brain Eaters, The College Walkers, Residents, Uninc., Univac Res Corp, The Pre-Residents, The Pre-sidents) were a loose assembly of friends, musicians and artists who existed in San Mateo, California between c. 1965 and 1972. With the release of their Santa Dog EP in 1972, they became solely known as The Residents.

While the group existed for a number of years, recorded possibly hundreds of reels of tape, and performed at various open-mic nights and private parties in the San Francisco area, The Residents have not generally considered their work to be part of their official discography, and their recordings remained largely unreleased until the 2018 and 2019 releases of the 1971 demo tapes The W***** B*** Album and B.S.

Between 2013 and 2016 began retrospectively referring to this group under the name The Delta Nudes when re-issuing material from this era.


Origins (1963-1968)

The Delta Nudes originated in Shreveport, Louisiana, where Randy Rose, Charles "Chuck" Bobuck, and Roger "Bunny" Hartley (also known as Harvey)[1] first met at high school[2] in the mid-1960s and, discovering mutual interests in art and music, became close friends.

After high school, the group attended college together at Louisiana Tech in Ruston, Louisiana, where they met and befriended brothers Palmer and Barry Eiland, as well as Homer Flynn, Hardy Fox, Jay Clem and John Kennedy. The group of friends formed "Delta Nu", or what Flynn would later describe as "the anti-fraternity fraternity... the guys who hung out and created a clique that was against the cool stuff".[1]

By 1966 the members of the "Delta Nu" group had begun to head their various ways. Kennedy had left for California to look for work, Flynn had dropped out of college and returned to Shreveport, and Fox had started managing The Alliance, a small rock 'n' roll group based in nearby Dubach which included guitarist Roland Sheehan.

In 1968, the remaining members of "Delta Nu", growing tired of life in the south, headed for northern California, and after staying in San Francisco for several months, ended up in San Mateo, where they decided to remain, living and working in near-total seclusion.

The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger and Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor (1969-1970)

"We were living in a weird kind of ramshackle building that was above a funky little car body shop... And you could tell - literally - what color they were painting the cars that day by looking in a mirror to see what color your nose hairs were."

Randy Rose[1]


The Delta Nudes, circa 1970

Flynn, Fox, Clem and Palmer Eiland would all move to San Francisco in 1969, effectively reuniting the "Delta Nu" group for the first time in more than a year. While attempting to make a living, the group began to experiment with painting, silk-screening, photography, and anything remotely to do with art that they could get their hands on, but despite a mutual interest in music and sound in general, they had not yet begun to experiment with making their own music.

This would change when Sheehan, formerly of The Alliance (the band managed by Fox in Louisiana) turned up on Fox's doorstep with a U-Haul trailer full of musical instruments, including a Hammond B3 organ. Fox did not have room to keep the instruments, and Sheehan wished to stay in San Mateo and play music, and so Fox directed Sheehan to the "Delta Nu" apartment, where Rose agreed to let him stay.

Around the same time, Bobuck received a high-end two-track reel to reel recorder as a gift from a friend, allowing the group to begin to make the first of possibly hundreds of loosely edited tapes, consisting mostly of home studio experiments, rehearsals and improvisational jams. The majority of these early tapes were supposedly later destroyed by The Residents, who considered them to be well below their standard and feared that they would inevitably leak to the public.

Sheehan left the group and San Mateo later in 1969, however by this point they 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. Two of these unreleased reel-to-reel items, titled The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger and Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor, would be rumored for years but completely unheard to fans until 2015, when both tapes began circulating via low-quality bootleg CD-Rs.

Philip Lithman and The Mysterious N. Senada (1970)

Word of the group's experimentation spread, and in 1970 the group's friend Margaret Smyk introduced them to a visiting British guitarist and multi-instrumentalist named Philip Lithman, who quickly befriended and moved in with the group, and began participating in their jam sessions. Despite their relative lack of musical experience, Lithman appreciated the aesthetics of what the group were doing, and their styles seemed to work together naturally.

Shortly after Lithman moved in, another stranger appeared on the group's doorstep - The Mysterious N. Senada , a Bavarian experimental composer and musical theorist in his early 60s, who had previously met Lithman in Europe (Lithman had discovered the eccentric composer recording birds in a forest). Both Lithman and Senada would become heavily influential in the group's work from this point onwards, and throughout their later existence as The Residents.

The Warner Bros. Album and formation of Residents Uninc. (1970-1971)


The Warner Bros. Album, 1971

In 1971, the still-unnamed group sent a reel-to-reel tape to Hal Halverstadt at Warner Brothers, since he had worked with Captain Beefheart (one of the group's musical heroes). Although Halverstadt was not overly impressed with The Warner Bros. Album (describing it as "okay at best"[3]), he awarded it the grade "AXPp":
  • A - for Ariginality
  • X - for Xecution
  • P - for Presentation
  • p - for potential

Because the band had not included any name in the return address, the rejection slip was simply addressed to "The Residents". The members of the group then decided that this would be the name they would use, first becoming Residents Uninc. - the management arm of the anonymous group. By this time the group had also formed Porno Graphics, their graphic design arm, led primarily by Flynn throughout the rest of their existence.

Early performances and B.S. (1971-1972)

Boarding house - n senada edit

N. Senada and the group at The Boarding House, 1971

The group's first known performance was at The Boarding House in San Francisco in 1971 (though it is rumored that N. Senada performed spoken word and saxophone improvisations at open-mic nights around this time). A performance at Lithman's wedding followed days later which would be known as the Party of '71.

That same year another demo tape was completed and submitted to Halverstadt, entitled Baby Sex - named after its disturbing cover art; a silk-screened copy of a photo blown up from an advertisement for a Dutch pornographic magazine that the group received in the mail[4], depicting a woman fellating a small child.

The birth of Ralph Records and The Residents (1972-1974)

In late 1971, the band relocated to 20 Sycamore Street, San Francisco; a studio they named "El Ralpho", which boasted a completely open ground floor (seemingly ideal for a sound stage), allowing the group to expand their operations and also begin preliminary work on their most ambitious project up to that point, a full-length film entitled Vileness Fats, which would consume most of their attention for the next four years.

Santa Dog, 1972

In 1972, the group formed Ralph Records as a small, independent label to release and promote their own work. To inaugurate the new business, the group recorded and pressed the Santa Dog EP, which then their first recorded output to be released to the public. Designed to resemble a Christmas card from an insurance company, the EP consisted of two 7" singles, with four songs between them.

Following the formation of their record label, the band formally adopted The Residents as their moniker and released their debut album Meet The Residents in 1974.

Members and collaborators


Known live performances

External links and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Jim Knipfel, "Somethin' Devilish: The Untold (And Finally True) Pre-History of The Residents 1963-1971)"
  2. Matt Groening, "The True Story of The Residents", 1979
  3. Uncle Willie's Highly Opinionated Guide To The Residents
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