The Unsolved Murder of Peter Ivers
The musician was bludgeoned to death in his Skid Row loft, but no one has ever been arrested for the crime.
Peter Ivers via Wikipedia.com
Peter Ivers had a knack for the odd and the curious. A gifted musician, the Harvard Alum had friends in high places, including Harold Ramis, David Lynch, and John Belushi.
The Illinois native moved around during his formative years. With an ill father who eventually died, his mother married a businessman from Boston, where the family would end up. After attending Harvard University, he chose to pursue music and began playing the harmonica in the band, Street Choir. He would later open for Fleetwood Mac as they toured Rumours.
Peter had begun a solo career at the end of the ‘60s with the release of Knight of the Blue Communion. The album presented a strange mix of musical variants and featured Yolande Bavan. As a review on Amazon claims, there’s nothing else like it.
In 1974, Peter signed a record deal with Warner Bros through his friend Van Dyke Parks, and two years later, his old friend David Lynch asked him to write a song for his new movie, Eraserhead. After writing the haunting In Heaven, Peter scored Grand Theft Auto for Ron Howard.
In an interview with The Washington Post, screenwriter Josh Frank explained why Peter Ivers was so important to Hollywood.
“He was the centerpiece of the wheel that our pop culture history turned around in the 1970s and 1980s. Even though his output didn’t necessarily stick, in one way or another he helped many of the other artists of his time get their success — like David Lynch. He was a connector — he connected people. Also, he was ahead of the curve when it came to video art and mixing video and music.”
In the ‘70s and ‘80s, artists had begun to leave their usual neighbourhoods and move to big warehouses just off Skid Row. Peter Ivers was one of them, alongside his girlfriend film exec Lucy Fisher.
Around the same time, Peter and Franne Gold were writing songs for Diana Ross, Phyllis Hyman and the Pointer Sisters, cementing them as lucrative songwriters. Peter was creating music and had huge commercial success from multiple hit records, so when he was found dead on the 3rd of March 1983, his friends, small fan base and the Hollywood community was shaken to its core.
Harold Ramis’ wife, Anne, was the first to raise the alarm. She’d been trying to get hold of her friend for hours and after her calls to Peter went unanswered, she asked a neighbour to check on him.
With the door usually unlocked, the neighbour could easily get into the loft and found Peter Ivers dead on his bed of the sixth-floor apartment. He’d been attacked with a wooden hammer, and his cause of death would later be confirmed as enormous skull fractures and brain injury. He was only 36 years old.
The investigation was mishandled from the start. The crime scene was immediately contaminated by the police and Peter’s friends, who arrived on the rumours around town that the great Peter Ivers had died.
The police had no idea what to do next, and Lucy Fisher recalled during a Los Angeles Times interview that Paul Michael Glaser, who played Starsky in Starsky and Hutch, arrived at the apartment, “The police turned to him and said, ‘What do we do?’ And he said, ‘I’m an actor!’”
The neighbourhood didn’t seem that concerned that someone had been murdered on their block. It was Skid Row, after all. It was also reported much later that the lock on the front door had been broken, but Lucy remembers it being unlocked.
Peter’s audio equipment was missing from his apartment, which led police to believe that an intruder had broken in and beaten the musician to death. The wooden hammer used to kill Peter had been left in the apartment but had no fingerprints to pull.
The police confirmed early that they had no suspects in the case, and despite detectives questioning Peter’s friends, none of them appeared to have anything to do with it.
Early on in the investigation, Lucy Fisher decided to hire a private investigator. However, it yielded similar results, and Lucy decided to close the investigation, telling EW.com, “I did continue on for close to a year. After a year, I decided I wasn’t going to open that door anymore, the door to that room, because the room was a bad room.”
The police may not have had any suspects, but Peter’s friends had their suspicions. Back in the early ‘80s, Peter was working on the New Wave Theatre show on a small Los Angeles television station, KSCI. The programme was a music-based tv show that included comedy and guest appearances. Over the years, the show had some big bands appear on it, including Dead Kennedys, The Plugz and Black Flag. Episodes can be found on YouTube.
The brain behind the show was a man named Dave Jove, a producer and alleged acid dealer to the Rolling Stones, whose most recent career had sky-rocketed because of New Wave Theatre and Peter Ivers. But, according to Peter’s friends, Jove was a violent drug abuser and didn’t want Peter to leave the show due to his recent musical success. His furious outbursts had become vicious, and Peter’s friends began to note the producer’s temper.
Dave Jove died in 2004, and Peter’s case was all but forgotten. However, in 2006, the case was reviewed once more, and according to a detective in the homicide unit, there was one vague suspect.
“They came up with a suspect, who was a rooftop burglar who fell off a roof, as being the most likely suspect. I know there are a lot of people that think there’s other people involved, but it doesn’t appear that way. You would like to have better answers, but I don’t think there ever will be. I think this is it.”
Peter Iver’s murder is now a cold case and resides in the Los Angeles Police Department’s filing system, unlikely to be solved. As far as theories go, there are few. It all comes down to Dave Jove or an intruder, according to numerous articles.
“He did not get his just desserts,” Van Dyke Parks said in an interview. “That should not make me angry. But it sure does make me sad.”
However, Lucy Fisher believes the answer is simple, “I do think it’s possible that it was somebody crazy that he knew,” she said. “But I think it was also possible it was a passer-by who had heard music coming out of there and knew. Equipment was stolen and the door was not locked. [Peter] could do everything except lock a door, basically.”
If Peter Ivers were alive today, he’d be 75 years old. The musician and his show, New Wave Theatre, was the preamble to MTV and became the inspiration for bands across the world. His girlfriend, Lucy, played a big part in keeping Peter’s voice and name alive over the years. She founded the Peter Ivers Visiting Artist Program at Harvard University not long after his death in 1983.
The Guardian called him ‘an Einstein among Neanderthals’ and the ‘tragic prince of LA counterculture’, but there’s nothing tragic about it. The fundamental point is that musician Peter Ivers was murdered, and no one has ever received justice for the crime.