When The Residents' long-time friend and collaborator Philip C. Lithman - Snakefinger - died of a heart attack in 1987 the group was unable to make it to England for his funeral. This ceremony bothered many of Lithman's friends, in part because there was little acknowledgement of his musical career and no mention of his nickname, which he had used professionally ever since he was given it in 1971.
To rectify these problems the band held their own performance/gathering, known as "The Snakey Wake", in San Francisco on August 24th, 1987. The wake took place outdoors after dark. The Residents arrived dressed in black, wrapped in black netting, and carrying black umbrellas. They started the performance with Hank Williams Sr.'s Six More Miles to the Graveyard, followed by their versions of some old English laments. During the laments two Residents inflated large black balloons (also wrapped up in black netting and umbrellas) with helium. Snakefinger's friends would approach with mementos of the guitarist which were put into a package and tied to the balloons. At the end of the show the balloons were released and floated off into the night.