The Unsolved Life of Peter Ivers and the Lost History of New Wave Theatre
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The lost life of a groundbreaking musician and artist, murdered on the (possible) cusp of fame.

When researching his history of the iconic underground rock band Pixies (Fool the World, 2006), Frank came across a haunting song they often covered in concert called “In Heaven, Everything is Fine,” which he remembered vaguely from Eraserhead. He then found out it had been written for David Lynch by some guy named Peter Ivers. The book that Frank creates with freelance writer Buckholtz out of that serendipitous moment pays tribute to a gifted but unknown 20th-century American artist. A precociously talented child of Brookline, Mass., Ivers decamped for Harvard in the mid-’60s. The college was a font of theatrical and comedic energy, a staging ground for a bunch of high-voltage artistic personalities ranging from Stockard Channing to the entire National Lampoon crowd, which would utterly change American comedy in a few short years. A master blues harmonica player who often jammed with Muddy Waters, Ivers used his phenomenal musical talent, quick wit and bright-eyed enthusiasm to make himself indispensable in this fast-track crowd. But fame eluded him. A few albums went nowhere, and a disastrous opening performance for Fleetwood Mac put an end to his dreams of rock stardom. Relocated to Los Angeles, the gregarious Ivers again became a nodal point, this time in the city’s raw punk scene. As the host of a surreal, cult cable-access show, New Wave Theatre, he brought together Lampoon star Doug Kenney with punk agitators Fear and Dead Kennedys, while Hollywood friends Harold Ramis, John Belushi and Lynch came by to groove on the vibe. In 1983, on the verge of achieving some industry recognition, Ivers was found bludgeoned to death in his loft; the killer was never apprehended.

Well-stocked with interviews and evidence—a respectful, understanding portrait of a talented and unique soul who never managed to find a solid perch in the world.

Pub Date: Aug. 12th, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4165-5120-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2008