Peter Ivers at Madame Wong’s

I was Peter’s drummer for many special occasions. One of which was shooting a comedy for Paramount starring Mark Blankfield in, “Jekyl and Hyde Together Again.” We were standing around the downstairs entrance to Madame Wong’s Cafe in Gin Ling Square, made-up to look like a joke punk band called “The Shitty Rainbows” They had made me up to look like a Kabuki SS officer with safety pins in my torn military shirt and a military hat on my badly dyed blond hair. Peter worked on his karate punches to my face as we stood around in the heat, spike hair wilting, waiting for the crew to be ready for our performance. Every punker in the then small LA punk world was an extra. Punks in Chinatown looked good. It was a real fashion statement. These were the kids who had forsaken arena rock and went out looking for music that was vital to their sense of humor, which was very sophisticated. Peter was the harbinger of New Wave before it was called that by the posers who wanted to hang out and snort drugs with people who were afraid of real punk music, so they invented “New Wave” to make it more socially acceptable. Claude Bessey, the music critic for Slash, the punk zine from the late Seventies is quoted saying as much in the punk documentary film “Decline of Western Civilization”, which I am also in at the very beginning, with a stingy brim hat, lots of buttons and a few chains. I was also writing the Star Wars Comic strip for George Lucas at the same time, so my perspective was otherworldly to say the least. Peter was an educated artist, having been to Harvard, so his sojourn into the punk world was with a certain amount of objectivity and bemusement. His music was not really angry, it was clever and intelligently performed by very talented players. He was a good organizer and he paid well. One week we would be recording a sound track for FilmEx, the next week, a sound track for Ron Howard’s first movie, “Grand Theft Auto.” then down for a video art piece at the first student video production facilities at Long Beach State. There were various encounters with real nightclub crowds at various venues around Hollywood. His crowd was a lot of film people as well as the kids. Mark Blankfield was a great comedian, and was featured on “Friday Nights” which was an LA version of SNL. The movie, “Jekyl and Hyde Together Again” holds up pretty well. It’s actually still funny. New Wave music has gotten a backseat by music critics but it was a necessary evolution of the pop grooves that had grown stale with corporate music production taking over the airwaves. It was an opportunity for non musicians to play instruments, make mistakes, call it art, and get a recording deal. Peter’s fans, like Devo, Talking Heads,  John Cale, and others encouraged his quirkiness. Peter’s tempos and arrangements were not conventional pop arrangements. He sang in puns, “My Girl’s from Alfa Centuari, Free The Funk, Girls of the Third World” etc. Most of his musicians were classically trained and even worked with the LA Philharmonic, but they could still respect Peter’s musicality. He was way ahead of the curve. The fun moment for us at the shoot in Gin Ling Square was when Esther Wong, the owner and resident dragon lady of Chinatown introduced us,

“Ladies and Gentleman. I am unhappy to introduce to you…., The Shitty Rainbows.” If you get a copy of the movie which is still available, You will see that I missed the music cue right after Ester’s excellent punk introduction. It was too funny.

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