Most people have never heard of Peter Ivers. If they know his work at all, it's because he provided the eerie falsetto vocals for the Lady in the Radiator's song in David Lynch's Eraserhead (later covered by the Pixies: "In heaven, everything is fine"). It's a haunting legacy, and all the more so given that Ivers was bludgeoned to death at 36. As Josh Frank enthusiastically demonstrates in his biography of Ivers, In Heaven Everything Is Fine, there was far more to Ivers than creepy, high-pitched singing voice. As host of the short-lived New Wave Theatre, a late-night cable show that featured guests like Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Fear, and Dead Kennedys, Ivers was at the nexus of the punk rock, comedy, and new wave scenes that intersected in Hollywood in the late '70s and early '80s. In Heaven is an intelligently conceived (if sloppily constructed) biography that not only provides a downright inspirational look at Ivers' life, but also a fascinating window into a pivotal point in US culture.
Harvard-educated, Ivers was a tirelessly creative musician who nonetheless never attained the degree of commercial success of many of his friends, some of whom made it to the top tiers of the Hollywood movie machine. (Lynch was a friend, as were National Lampoon founder Doug Kenney and Harold Ramis, while Ivers' girlfriend was a top executive with Francis Ford Coppola's production company.) A blues harmonica player whom Muddy Waters once called "the greatest harp player alive," Frank sketches Ivers as an undeniable talent who never quite found his niche. At the same time, Ivers was a selfless advocate of his friends' talents, tirelessly collaborating across mediums, restlessly searching to find new connections between people, technologies, and ideas.
Given that much of Ivers' work explored the possibilities of the intersection of video and music, it's appropriate that the book takes full advantage of the possibilities of the internet: The website peterivers.com contains audio tracks of many of Ivers' songs. They're worth listening to—as the book is worth reading, and, as Frank abundantly demonstrates, Ivers' unconventionally heroic life is worth remembering.