The Tragic Details About Peter Ivers's Death

Peter Ivers isn't the most well-known artist in music history, which is fitting because he didn't particularly want to be a part of the more conventional and orthodox world of music. Ivers wanted to be recognized as an avant-gard artist with a unique sound and thought-provoking lyrics. As Dazed writes, he was already considered brilliant — a Harvard graduate who was not only an expert harmonica and harp player, and an inventive songwriter, but also a master yogi, with a black belt in karate. It seemed he could accomplish anything he set his mind to.

Ivers is remembered for his subversive and eccentric musical style, which led to him hosting his own show, New Wave Theater, where Ivers would showcase other musical acts as just as unusual and cutting-edge. Besides writing songs that appeared in films such as National Lampoon's Vacation and Grand Theft Auto, Turner Classic Movies says that Ivers's top film work came in the form of scoring David Fincher's experimental horror movie Eraserhead.

Despite his accomplishments, Ivers is probably best remembered for how he died, his life and career cut short at the age of 36, when his star was still rising. And even today, there are still no clues as to the reason for Ivers's sudden and shockingly tragic death.

Peter Ivers Was One of the Faces of New Wave

Peter Ivers was anything but mainstream. If anything, he seemed to repudiate the mainstream, greatly preferring to work and live on the fringe. Ivers was one of the leading faces of New Wave music, and he loved nothing more than experimenting with new sounds with highly unusual, sometimes puzzling lyrics. According to The Los Angeles Times, while Ivers was clearly a brilliant musician, he had a very particular style that some found curious or odd. While he did eventually gain a following for his music, Ivers worked to cultivate that very specific audience who understood and loved his music. His then-girlfriend, Lucy Fishe,r explained that Ivers struggled for a long time before he started finding real success in the music world: "Peter has had a cult following all these years that always amazed me, because he struggled in his life to get an audience ... he was very good at it, but that was a very long route."

Producer Matt Werth of independent music label RVNG probably has the best description of Ivers's unique sound: "It just completely scrambled my brain. It was this odd, mutant pop led by this wild vocal expression, a minimal drum machine and Fender Rhodes [piano]. I was like, 'I have to learn everything about this music and this musician.' It all spiraled into the world of Peter."

On the night of March 3, 1983, Ivers was found dead in his Skid Row apartment.

Peter Ivers's Crime Scene Was Contaminated Early

According to Entertainment Weekly, his friend, Anne Ramis (the wife of Harold Ramis), asked a neighbor to check on Ivers after becoming concerned when he hadn't returned her calls. The neighbor entered the apartment (Ivers was not known to lock his door) and came upon a grisly scene. Ivers, lying in a blood-stained bed, had been bludgeoned to death with a wooden hammer that was found nearby. Hank Petroski, one of the detectives on the case, confirmed the gruesome crime scene: "He's lying in bed, and there was one of those circus hammers, and there was blood on it. His head was smashed in."

According to Ivers's then-girlfriend, Fisher, the LAPD did a poor job securing the crime scene, allowing Ivers's friends and other outsiders to wander into Ivers's apartment, says the LA Times. "By the time I got [to the loft], people were already milling around," she said. "They hadn't cordoned it off, which was basically 101 of what you do at a murder scene."

Even Detective Petroski agreed that the initial investigation had been bungled. "Oh no, it was crummy. I would have been so pissed at the patrolman because their job is to secure [the scene]."

The only clue was stolen stereo equipment. There were no fingerprints on the murder weapon. The initial contamination of the crime scene ensured that no accurate forensics analysis could take place.

No Arrest Has Ever Been Made

To this day, the murder of Peter Ivers remains a cold case. There has never even been a serious suspect connected to the murder. According to Entertainment Weekly, the police questioned Ivers's friends, but no plausible suspect emerged. Police guessed that Ivers's death might have simply been a robbery gone wrong, given the dangerous area, the stolen equipment, and his habit of not locking his door. The night of Ivers's death, Detective Petroski received a report that a burglar had fallen to his death in the area — to him, the burglar currently seemed to be the most credible suspect. But, of course, thanks to the contaminated crime scene, no one could actually ascertain a solid connection.

Some of Ivers's friends speculated that Ivers's former New Wave Theater boss, David Jove, could have been behind Ivers's death. Jove was known to have a violent temper, was a cocaine abuser, and appeared to associate with dangerous people. Before his death, Ivers had also grown tired of doing the show and bending to Jove's whims, and Jove apparently was furious at the thought of Ivers leaving. Could Jove have been the cause of Ivers's death? Police investigated Jove — who died in 2004 — but couldn't establish any link to the brutal murder. Lucy Fisher hired a private investigator to look into the case for a year, but no new evidence turned up. There have been no suspects and no arrests.