Peter Ivers, the man who united Devo with David Lynch

VALENCIA. peter ivers It is one of those names that, although it is not familiar to us, we know more than we might think at first glance. The followers and scholars of David Lynch you know what I mean. everyone who has seen eraserhead He has heard Ivers sing in what is undoubtedly his most popular contribution to contemporary culture. Lynch wrote the lyrics for “In Heaven (Lady In The Radiator Song)”, performed in the film by the woman who lives in the radiator, one of the most dreamlike characters ever created by the king of dreams and nightmares made celluloid. The song is not sung by a woman but by a man with a reedy voice, somewhere between feminine and childish, the voice of Peter Ivers, who is also the author of the music, a character who, in himself, seemed to come from the mind of Lynch His work and his tragic end corroborate this.

Singer, songwriter, producer, martial arts expert, television presenter and owner of a spirituality that gave him a special gift, Peter Ivers was associated with musicians, filmmakers and artists of all kinds, but he never surpassed the category of artist cursed for more let him try. Back in 1969, when he released his first album, his music was too anarchic to fit on a label that would help market it. He was a great harmonica player and even himself Muddy Waters He came to gloss his way of playing the harp. His musical vision captivated lenny waronkerproducer and executive who gave the Warner Bros record label one of its most fruitful artistic stages thanks to his involvement in the careers of artists such as Randy Newman either Rickie Lee-Jones. What Van Dyke Parks, a musician and arranger with baroque and colorful ideas, who shared Waronker’s enthusiasm for Ivers, became his musical ally on the two albums he recorded for Warner. The first of them, Terminal Love, was published in 1974 and turned out to be a complete flop. As expected, given the author’s creative traits, the album turned out to be too bland for rock lovers, too strange for the Californian rock in vogue at the time, and too unclassifiable for practically everyone. There didn’t seem to be too many people interested in Peter Iver’s records and the fact that he got to open for the New York Dolls It helped me earn points.

His third and final studio album hit stores in 1976. peter iverswhich had the collaboration of Carly Simon in the choirs, he suffered the same fate as his predecessor. It hardly sold and the critics, as expected, reviled it. Despite everything, those three albums did not go completely unnoticed. Ivers maintained friendships with comedians who at that time were beginning to stand out on the program Saturday night Liveamong whom were John Belushi, Beverly D’Angelo, Chevy-Chase, Harold Ramis either Steve Martin. The latter admired Ivers’s musical talents so much that he ended up passing his enthusiasm on to his brother, producer Doug Martin. It was he who put him in contact with David Lynch, and that is how they ended up working on the soundtrack for eraserhead. At the film’s premiere in 1977 Ivers and Lynch met Devo. The crush was as immediate as it was reciprocal, so much so that the influence Ivers may have had on Mark Mothersbaugh’s histrionic, high-pitched vocal style has even been written about. There were talks about projects that would never come together, and Devo considered introducing a version of “In Heaven (Lady In The Radiator Song)” into their live shows. Another project that also never came to fruition is Lynch’s legendary screenplay, Ronnie Rocketwhich is talked about in all the essays and biographies of the director, but which is rarely mentioned that the leading role was intended for Ivers.

At that time, the musician also composed and recorded the soundtrack for one of the productions of Roger Corman, Grand Theft Autoa series B that benefited from a score in the purest Ivers style: experimental, ambitious and grandiose, made with 15 musicians, including his friend Van Dyke Parks, who got into the studio to play without previous rehearsals. But Ivers never strayed from rock. He produced the only album recorded by Circus Mort, the group that would later become swansand also Roderick Falconer, a curious hybrid between Bryan Ferry and Ziggy Stardust whose image was based on a military aesthetic with touches of science fiction.

Peter Ivers LP cover

In the end, popularity gave Ivers a break in the early 1980s. It was not his records, but his role as host of the television space New Wave Theater, broadcast on a Californian cable television channel. Comparable to New York TV-Party by Glenn O’Brien New Wave Theater was an applauded focus of dissemination of what was happening in the underground local. Groups like Fear, dead kenedysThe Plugz, Suburban Lawns or black-flag or The Blasters. In addition, gags starring the group of comedians from Ivers’s circle of friends were staged. In March 1983, Ivers’s lifeless body was discovered in his apartment: he had been hammered to death. The police never came to determine the cause of his death. His girlfriend, the film executive Lucy Fisher, hired a private investigator to try to solve the case, but a conclusive version was never reached. The case was closed and went on to join the list of unsolved murders in the city of Los Angeles.

In 2009, the book In Heaven Everything Is Fine: The Unsolved Life Of Peter Ivers And The Lost History Of The New Wave Theater, written by Josh Frank, helped bring back Ivers’ figure. Thanks to the interviews that the author had with the local police, the book served to reopen the case. However, the causes of his death remain a mystery. In 2019 his name came back to the fore when an independent label published Becoming Peter Iversan anthology made of models (“demos are often better than the final versions of the songs, they have more guts”, said Ivers) in which alternative versions of songs that once appeared on their albums appear, as well as unreleased recordings. Among them, the version that Ivers himself recorded of “In Heaven”.

Peter Ivers, the man who united Devo with David Lynch