Hardy Fox, 1945-2018 (via hardyfox.com)
Almost nine years ago, I was interviewing Hardy Fox, the president of the Cryptic Corporation, by Skype. He was telling me about hopes the Residents had expressed over the years for advances in stage technology: touring holographic productions that would fit on a disk, music that would cause everyone in the audience to have a simultaneous orgasm. And then he said the most surprising thing anyone’s said to me during an interview:
Actually, they always wanted to have an album, like a gatefold album that when you opened it, it was just a hole—and it would give you instant vertigo, like you would be terrified to open it because you could fall into it and get lost.
Like a bottomless pit—inside the record? Is that what you’re talking about, Hardy?
Exactly. It opens up—it would just terrify you because it would just be so empty.
I strongly suspected Hardy had more to do with the Residents than he let on, but I was too much a fan of the band to have any interest in unmasking its members, which would not only spoil the mystery, but unmask me as a discourteous jerk. Invading the privacy of the coolest people in the world doesn’t make you a brilliant sleuth; it makes you an asshole. Who wants to be the guy staking out Thomas Pynchon’s apartment with a telephoto lens? So I didn’t bring it up, nor did I have to, considering how he ended our conversation:
Actually, I feel honored that someone of your youth seems to have as much knowledge and information about things that I have spent my life working on, and so that somewhat honors me that it wasn’t just working out into the void that’s inside that album cover, waiting.
I supposed he could have been talking about all the marketing work he’d done for the Residents, but it sure didn’t sound that way.
Hardy’s former role in the Residents has been hiding in plain sight for some time now on the home page of his website. It’s right there in the first paragraph of his bio:
Hardy Fox grew up in Texas. After college he moved to San Francisco reveling in the free love days of 1967-68. He co-founded the much loved cult band, the Residents, where he was primary composer.
Hardy retired from The Residents in 2015 but continued to compose for the group through 2018. In addition to his work with that band, he has recorded as a solo artist under various names including Charles Bobuck, Combo de Mechanico, Sonido de la Noche, Chuck, TAR, among others.
Hardy talked about leaving the Residents and undergoing heart surgery in an interview with Musique Machine earlier this year. Last month, the dates “1945-2018” appeared on Hardy’s website and Facebook page, and he sent out a message to the Hacienda Bridge mailing list that began: “I’m 73. Dying of a head thing that will get me soon. So what.” On Tuesday morning, this notice turned up in my inbox, accompanied by the photo of Rod Serling below:
1945 - 2018
That evening, the Residents posted this obituary at residents.com:
It is with with great sorrow and regret that The Cryptic Corporation announces the passing of longtime associate, Hardy Fox. As president of the corporation from 1982-2016, the company benefited from Hardy’s instinct for leadership and direction, but his true value came from his longtime association with The Residents. As the group’s producer, engineer, as well as collaborator on much of their material, Fox’s influence on The Residents was indelible; despite any formal training, his musicality was nevertheless unique, highly refined and prolific. Blessed with a vital sense of aesthetics, a keen ear, and an exquisite love of the absurd, Hardy’s smiling face was a constant source of joy to those around him. He will be missed.
After a series of recent health problems, Hardy succumbed to a brief illness. He is survived by his husband, Steven Kloman.
Ave atque vale, Hardy Fox. Thanks for a billion hours of musical pleasure.