The Unsolved Life of Peter Ivers and the Lost History of New Wave Theatre
In the late ’70s and early ’80s, Saturday Night Live
and National Lampoon
were leading a comedy renaissance, while punk and new wave turned the music world on its head. At the nexus was the underground, cable-access show New Wave Theatre
, hosted by the visionary Peter Ivers. Pre-MTV, the show forged a groundbreaking union between comedy and punk, placing comedians like John Belushi, Chevy Chase, and Harold Ramis onstage with Black Flag, the Dead Kennedys, and Fear. On the cusp of mainstream recognition, New Wave Theatre
came to a sudden end on March 3, 1983 when Ivers was found beaten to death in his downtown Los Angeles loft. The show was forgotten, but Ivers’s influence on pop culture has lasted. A magnetic creative force, his circle included Doug Kenney, Jello Biafra, David Lynch, Ramis, and Belushi. He was also a fascinating musician: in addition to composing the centerpiece song on the soundtrack of Lynch’s cult classic film Eraserhead
, Ivers recorded seven albums. Josh Frank’s research inspired renewed interest in Ivers, and the abandoned murder investigation was reopened. Through his narration and interviews with the LAPD and those close to Ivers, Frank brings this underappreciated and compelling creative figure to life.