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In Heaven Everything Is Fine

The Unsolved Life of Peter Ivers and the Lost History of New Wave Theatre

About The Book

On March 3, 1983, Peter Ivers was found bludgeoned to death in his loft in downtown Los Angeles, ending a short-lived but essential pop cultural moment that has been all but lost to history. For the two years leading up to his murder, Ivers had hosted the underground but increasingly popular LA-based music and sketch-comedy cable show New Wave Theatre.

The late '70s through early '80s was an explosive time for pop culture: Saturday Night Live and National Lampoon were leading a comedy renaissance, while punk rock and new wave were turning the music world on its head. New Wave Theatre brought together for the first time comedians-turned-Hollywood players like John Belushi, Chevy Chase, and Harold Ramis with West Coast punk rockers Black Flag, the Dead Kennedys, Fear, and others, thus transforming music and comedy forever. The show was a jubilant, chaotic punk-experimental-comedy cabaret, and Ivers was its charismatic leader and muse. He was, in fact, the only person with the vision, the generosity of spirit, and the myriad of talented friends to bring together these two very different but equally influential worlds, and with his death the improbable and electric union of punk and comedy came to an end.

The magnetic, impishly brilliant Ivers was a respected musician and composer (in addition to several albums, he wrote the music for the centerpiece song of David Lynch's cult classic Eraserhead) whose sublime and bizarre creativity was evident in everything he did. He was surrounded by people who loved him, many of them luminaries: his best friend from his Harvard days was Doug Kenney, founder of National Lampoon; he was also close to Harold Ramis and John Belushi. Upon his death, Ivers was just beginning to get mainstream recognition.

In Heaven Everything Is Fine is the first book to explore both the fertile, gritty scene that began and ended with New Wave Theatre and the life and death of its guiding spirit. Josh Frank, author of Fool the World: The Oral History of a Band Called Pixies, interviewed hundreds of people from Ivers's circle, including Jello Biafra, Stockard Channing, and David Lynch, and we hear in their own words about Ivers and the marvelous world he inhabited. He also spoke with the Los Angeles Police Department about Ivers's still-unsolved murder, and, as a result of his research, the Cold Case Unit has reopened the investigation. In Heaven Everything Is Fine is a riveting account of a gifted artist, his tragic death, and a little-known yet crucial chapter in American pop history.

About The Author

Seabrook Jones for

Josh Frank is the author (with Caryn Ganz) of Fool the World: The Oral History of a Band Called Pixies and a screenwriter, composer, and director.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Free Press (September 4, 2008)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781416579762

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Raves and Reviews

"The lost life of a groundbreaking musician and artist, murdered on the (possible) cusp of fame.... Well-stocked with interviews and evidence -- a respectful, understanding portrait." -- Kirkus Reviews

"Peter used to sign off personal notes with the words 'All good things,' and that's what he was. His life was an extraordinary gift and Josh Frank captures Peter's grace, talent, and incredible spirit with insight and compassion. The details and impact of his tragic death are offered in awful but compelling counterpoint, and this terrible contradiction continues to deeply affect all of us who knew and loved him, as it should anyone who reads the story of this remarkable man." -- Harold Ramis, director, writer, and actor

"A must read for anyone who thinks that the L.A. subculture supported by true creativity and lack of monetary ambition ended in the sixties. Peter Ivers was the figurehead for a movement that burned through underground Los Angeles before the eighties -- and his death -- extinguished the flame. Josh Frank commits to shining a light on this extraordinary man and his time, delivering an intricate thriller told through the voices of those who were there." -- Beverly D'Angelo, actress

"Surrounded by crazies, Peter Ivers faced the growing pains of a musical and social upheaval with a smile and aplomb. In Heaven Everything Is Fine is a transparent view into that world. Josh Frank's interviews remind us of how many people we change a little while we are here." -- Spit Stix, former drummer for Fear

"Frank intersperses newly documented interviews to write an engrossing account. Overdue and highly recommended, this work assays a crucial era of popular culture history." -- Library Journal

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