Charles Manson, the cult leader of the Manson Family, who directed his followers to commit a series of brutal murders in 1969, it was one of the most reviled figures in American culture.
A con man who had spent most of his adult life in prison, he orchestrated a series of murders with the intention of stimulating a race war.
But his original intention when he arrived in California was to become a musician.
A macabre fascination with his music has since remained. Groups such as Guns N’ Roses, The Lemonheads and Marilyn Manson have covered his songs; while bootleg recordings of his demonstrations, that began to circulate during the process, are now widely available.
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Manson psychedelic brand of folk music was not, it must be said, very good.
His guitar playing was basic, his texts disorganized, and his stylistic debt to The Beatles sneaky sitar sounds are scattered throughout his recordings with intentional).
Still, he made quite an impression on his contemporaries to come close to securing a recording contract.
Manson, who learned to play the guitar in prison, arrived for the first time in California in 1967, and soon met the musicians including Neil Young, Dennis Wilson, and Doris Day’s son, record producer Terry Melcher.
Young people, in particular, was impressed by what he heard.
“He had this kind of music that no one else was doing,” said rock writer Bill Flanagan.
“He would sit down with the guitar and start playing and do strange things, different each time.
“Musically, I thought that was very special. I thought that he really had something crazy, something great. It was like a living poet.”
John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas was less than thrilled. Repeatedly prompted to register with Manson, the singer recalled: “I simply cringe every time. I would say no, I don’t think it’ll pass’.”
Manson is the closest brush with music fame came after Gary Hinman, a music teacher, who later became one of the family members of the victims, introduced him to Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys.
Wilson has taken one of Manson’s songs, Cease To Exist, and turned it in the Beach Boys song Never Learn Not To Love to take a writing credit for himself, after editing some of the texts and the addition of the band’s famous harmonies.
Manson has received a one-time payment, and a motorcycle in exchange for the rights to the song, but he came to resent Wilson’s “theft”.
In a left-preface of his later crimes, he left a bullet on the drummer’s bed.
“I gave Dennis Wilson a bullet, isn’t it? I gave him a bullet because he changed the words of my song,” Manson later told us tv presenter Diane Sawyer in an interview.
Manson, perhaps, he refrained from taking action because Wilson, as well as let the Family stay at his home, had promised to introduce Manson to Melcher, who had witnessed The Beach Boys and their album Pet Sounds.
The manufacturer agreed to see him perform at the Spahn Ranch in May of 1969 – but has left indifferent, down to work with him.
After that, things quickly turned dark.
Manson is convinced that Armageddon was coming. He believed that the race riots of 1968, and the Black Panther movement were the beginning of a race war.
Increasingly paranoid, he gleaned what he believed were clues in the Biblical book of Revelation and the Beatles ‘ White Album, with songs like Piggies, Blackbirds and Helter Skelter.
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The messianic leader of a cult of the dead
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He staged the killings to make it appear that they were committed by black militants, appointing his plan of Helter Skelter after Lennon and McCartney song.
The first killing took place on July 25, 1969, when Manson sent three members of the Family of Hinman house. After being held hostage for two days, He was stabbed to death.
On August 8, Manson sent four people to Melcher’s house, with instructions to kill everyone they found. However, the producer had moved out, and the film director Roman Polanski was now in possession of the property.
The gang burst in and killed four people, including Polanski’s pregnant wife, Sharon Tate.
Despite the horror of his crimes, Manson, in some way, has become a celebrity. During a trial period, has carved an X on his forehead, and relished his role as an anti-hero, ranting for the cameras, making crazy demands and threats.
Getty Images / BBC
While in custody, asked Phil Kaufman, who had met in an earlier prison incident, to see that his music has been released.
Not surprisingly, no record label would touch the recordings, but Kaufman raised the money to get an LP pressed on, and was released by Awareness Records, the same label that has put out Bob Dylan The Great White Wonder, widely regarded as the rock, the first bootleg.
The album was titled Lie: The Love and Terror Cult, a game of Life the cover of a Magazine with the same title, from the December 1969. In the 1970s and ‘ 80s, it became an object from the collection the punk and metal scenes – and is now widely available on streaming services.
There is a morbid fascination with the recordings, and people in search of clues of Manson’s horrific crimes, and in the texts.
These clues are few and far between – but his language paints a disturbing picture of the methods it has used to manipulate the members of his sect.
“You think you love the child, but you’re crying… Are those feelings true?” she sings Look At Your Game Girl, which “embodies Manson, fundamental approach to influence young women by targeting socially-imposed hang-ups, and that implies that his way is the best and most free,” wrote the music critic Theodore Grenier.
The fate-titled People Say that they are Not Good, in the meantime, it is little more than a rant about society double standard, a theme that echoes the Mechanical, the Human and the Landfill (which critics food waste and advocates dumpster diving, years before it became a cause famous).
So, in the end, Manson’s musical ambitions amount to little more than a footnote.
And while the likes of Marilyn Manson (that name itself, after the criminal has tried to associate itself with its evil acts, others came to regret.
Axl Rose, who was wearing a “Charlie Don’t Surf” t-shirt with Manson face of Guns N’ Roses-Use Your Illusion tour, then he tried to distance himself from the cult of the leader, the donation of profits from a cover of Look at Your Game, Girl, for heaven’s sake.
“I wore the t-shirt, because a lot of people enjoy playing me as the bad guy and the fool,” he said in a statement. “I’m sorry, I’m not that kind of guy. I’m nothing like him. There is a real difference in morals, values and ethics between Manson and me … He is a sick individual.”
But perhaps the best response to Manson’s musical aspirations came from Bono.
“This is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles,” he said, while the introduction of a live version of Helter Skelter on U2’s Rattle and Hum.
“We’re stealing it back.”
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