by Amy T. Waldman
with Peter Jest
foreword by David Luhrssen
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2024
Paper: 978-1-9766-0030-2 | eISBN: 978-1-9766-0031-9
Library of Congress Classification ML429.J45
Dewey Decimal Classification 781.660977595


The entertaining and inspiring story of a stubbornly independent promoter and club owner 

This irreverent biography provides a rare window into the music industry from a promoter’s perspective. From a young age, Peter Jest was determined to make a career in live music, and despite naysayers and obstacles, he did just that, bringing national acts to his college campus at UW–Milwaukee, booking thousands of concerts across Wisconsin and the Midwest, and opening Shank Hall, the beloved Milwaukee venue named after a club in the cult film This Is Spinal Tap.

This funny, nostalgia-inducing book details the lasting friendships Jest established over the years with John Prine, Arlo Guthrie, and Milwaukee’s own Violent Femmes, among others. It also shines a light into the seldom-seen world of music promotion, as Jest attempts to manage a turbulent band on the road, negotiates with agents, deals with fires (both real and metaphorical), struggles through a pandemic, and takes pleasure in presenting music of all kinds—from world-famous acts to up-and-coming local bands. In addition to photos of celebrated musicians, the book includes concert posters, tickets, and backstage passes documenting decades of rock, folk, and alternative shows that helped put Milwaukee on the live music map.

As the music industry has become dominated by profit-driven corporations, We Had Fun and Nobody Died chronicles the career of a one-of-a-kind independent promoter whose hardheadedness and love of music have helped him keep it real and make it in the music business for more than forty years. 

"[An] adventure-filled biography of music promoter Peter Jest. . . . Reflecting decades of changes to the music business, We Had Fun and Nobody Died is a fascinating biography of a passionate promoter’s work to transform Milwaukee’s music scene." 
Foreword Reviews 

“Amy Waldman and Peter Jest weave a thrilling tale of fanhood gone pro. Dreams followed, dragons slain, and the roof of a venerable venue repeatedly blown sky-high. We’re proud to have provided the name [for Shank Hall]; it took men and women of sterner stuff to do the heavy lifting.”  
—Michael McKean, actor and comedian, This Is Spinal Tap 

We Had Fun and Nobody Died is a fantastic journey of a Midwest boy, his love of music, and his excitement to be part of it all.” 
—Kevn Kinney, lead singer and guitarist of Drivin N Cryin 

“Peter Jest’s story is one that conveys a winning combination of friendship, determination, and entrepreneurial insights that led him to a lifelong career in support of the live music industry and the community that comes together in common appreciation of it.” 
—Shana Morrison, singer-songwriter 

See other books on: Adventures | Business Aspects | Concerts | Milwaukee | Rock concerts
See other titles from Wisconsin Historical Society Press