New Wave Theatre - Punk Scene Television in 1982

There were two kinds of punk/new wave on TV in the 80s.

The MTV kind was about the same as when the Beverly Hillbillies had "Beatniks" on the show. Showing punk and new wave that the kids could get into as well.

And there was the Night Flight kind, where you couldn't believe it was actually on television. Like the show New Wave Theatre

New Wave Theatre a glimpse into the Los Angeles punk scene in 1982 - The A.V. Club:

"New Wave Theatre was the brainchild of David Jove and then Billboard magazine editor Ed Ochs. Broadcast on Los Angeles area UHF station channel 18, the show featured a high-energy, low-budget format that jived with the punk movement’s D.I.Y attitude. Host Peter Ivers, the ringmaster of this musical circus–generally clad in sunglasses, skinny ties, and other hallmarks of early ‘80s new wave style fashions—provided the glue in-between performances, interviews, and comedy sketches that held the show together. New Wave Theatre was broadcast nationally on the USA Network—long before Suits and Psych marathons—as part of their Night Flight block of programming.

image of man with guitar with yellow text
New Wave Theatre Screenshot

New Wave Theatre ended in 1983 when Ivers was found bludgeoned to death in his Los Angeles apartment. The case remains unsolved to this day. Harold Ramis and New Wave Theatre producer Jove attempted to resurrect the show as The Top in 1983. Despite featuring big-name musical acts The Romantics and Cyndi Lauper as well as Second City alums Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, Ramis, Jove, and all of the parties involved were unable to work together—presumably due to egos and drugs—and only the pilot was produced."

I did not know that Peter Ivers was murdered, causing the show to end. It just wasn't on anymore, and that was all I knew about it.

There is a book about his unresolved death called -
In Heaven, Everything Is Fine: The Unsolved Life of Peter Ivers and the Lost History of New Wave Theatre.

The show forged a groundbreaking union between comedy and punk, placing comedians like John Belushi, Chevy Chase, and Harold Ramis onstage with Black Flag, the Dead Kennedys, and Fear. On the cusp of mainstream recognition.

The show was forgotten, but Ivers’s influence on pop culture has lasted. A magnetic creative force, his circle included Doug Kenney, Jello Biafra, David Lynch, Ramis, and Belushi. 

He was also a fascinating musician: in addition to composing the centerpiece song on the soundtrack of Lynch’s cult classic film Eraserhead, Ivers recorded seven albums. 

Josh Frank’s research inspired renewed interest in Ivers, and the abandoned murder investigation was reopened. Through his narration and interviews with the LAPD and those close to Ivers, Frank brings this under-appreciated and compelling creative figure to life.

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