In the final part of this three part series into a macabre look at the world of death and Rock-n-Roll, we will take a look at the musical connections of one of the most famous and infamous murderers in the last 50 years, Charles Manson.
First, for those who literally live under a rock, Let me give you a quick history into the Manson Murders. Charles Manson was the leader of the so called "Manson family", a group of young people who were either runaways or looking for something else out there during the time of the flower child era and instead found Manson and his way out there views of the world. These kids looked to Manson as if he were God and did everything he said...even kill.
On the night of August 8th, 1969, Tex Watson, Pat Krenwinkle, Susan Atkins and Linda Kasabian were sent out to the house on 10050 Cielo Drive and told to kill everyone in it. Why? To ignite the race war that Manson called "Helter Skelter", which I will go into more detail about later on in the post. Charlie told them to "make it look witchy". The group did just that in such a gruesome manor that the total number of stab wounds between the 5 victims totaled over 100. The victims were movie actress Sharon Tate (the wife of director Roman Polanski and who was eight and a half months pregnant with his child), Jay Sebring (a friend and former lover of Tate), Wojciech Frykowski (a friend of Polanski's), Abigail Folger (heiress to the Folger coffee fortune), and Steven Parent (he was actually trying to leave when Tex stopped his car by yelling 'Halt!' and killed while still sitting in the driver's seat). After the murders, Susan took Charlie's advice and made it look "witchy" by writing the word "PIG" on the front door in Sharon Tate's blood.
The very next night, The same four family members as well as Leslie Van Houten and Steve "Clem" Grogan were sent out by Charlie for another round of murders, this time the victims were Rosemary and Leno LaBianca, a well to do couple who had the unfortunate luck of living next door to someone Charles knew (he didn't want the murders connected to him so he chose a house close by instead of the house he knew). Charlie went with the group this time and entered the house first. He tied the two up and told them they would not be harmed, it was just a robbery and they would be let go when it was over. He then told the others to go in and kill them, then Charlie left. The total number of stab wounds between the two this time was around 72. The word "WAR" was carved into Leno's stomach and words such as "Political Piggy", "Death To Pigs", "Rise", and "Helter Skelter" were again written on the walls with blood. After the murders, the family members showered, sat in the bushes in front of the house eating chocolate milk and cheese from the LaBianca fridge, and hitchhiked back to the Spahn Ranch where they lived. They also ate watermelon and left the rinds in the kitchen sink to make it look like black people killed the LaBiancas (all having to do with Helter Skelter, again I will explain soon).
Ok, so now that you know what Charlie did (or made others do for him), what was his connection to rock music? Well, let's start off with that race war I was talking about, Helter Skelter. Does that name sound familiar? Well, if you like The Beatles, it should. Helter Skelter was a race war Charlie believed would happen fueled by listening to The Beatles' White Album (while dropping a LOT of LSD). In his great race war, the "Blackies" and white people would fight in an all out war, with the blacks winning in the end. He then believed that the blacks would not be able to function without the white man around and that he and his family would come out of hiding and become their new leaders, "sending them back to the cotton fields" as he once put it. The murders he had the family commit were supposed to speed up the start of Helter Skelter. All of this was again based on a lot of drug use and how Charles interpreted the lyrics to Beatles' songs while on those drugs. For instance, how many have heard the song "Piggies"? Charles took it to mean that anyone who was part of the "establishment" needed "a damn good whacking" (those are actual lyrics from the song...I don't even need LSD to see that connection). You can also see connections between this same song and the words written on the walls of the victims ( "Political Piggy", "Death To Pigs", "PIGS") as well as a connection to the reason a fork was left in Leo's stomach (a line in the song stated "Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon"). I could literally go on with each song on the album, but that would make this post even longer, so I'll leave the Beatles' connections here.
Another famous connection between Manson and rock music is his connection to The Beach Boys. In the late spring of 1968, Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys picked up two female hitchhikers and took them home to have sex...these two women just so happened to be Manson girls Patricia Krenwinkel and Ella Jo Bailey. Dennis left them alone at the house for a few hours and when he came back, the rest of the Manson family had kind of "moved in". Charles charmed Dennis over by kissing his feet. The two had a kinda good relationship at first because they had something each wanted. Manson was a musician and Dennis had connections to a studio and people in the industry, which Manson liked. Manson had pretty girls and lots of drugs, which Dennis liked. Soon though, Manson and his family had caused so much damage to the house and property (including crashing Dennis' car that Manson "borrowed") that Dennis broke off the friendship and just left. When Manson tried to contact him again (for more money) and Dennis didn't responded, Mason left him a cryptic note and a bullet with his housekeeper. Now during this time, The Beach Boys actually recorded a song by Manson for one of their albums (a b-side track on their 20/20 album). The writing credit was not given to Manson though, but to Dennis. He either bought the song outright from Manson or took it as payment for all of the damage the family did to his house. When Manson wrote the song, it was called "Cease to Exist". The Beach Boys changed the some of the beat and a few of the lyrics and released it as "Never Learn Not to Love". You can hear both versions below:
Manson, as stated earlier, was a musician in his own right and his music can still be heard on youtube and all over the web today. If you listen to it, he actually wasn't that bad...unfortunately, he also happened to be crazy as hell and never made it in the music scene (there was a rumor that he auditioned for The Monkeys...but he was actually locked up at the time). These are just two of the main connections he had with rock, but literally this post could go on and on.
Thank you all for letting me take you threw the macabre history of rock music. I am planning on doing more "true crime" type posts because I actually got some good feedback on this series, so look for more posts like these. And lastly, I would like to state that some of the info I used was found on http://www.findadeath.com, a great website for true crime fans and, as they call em, "death hags". This site inspired me to do these posts, so check em out. The info for the third post on Manson came from the documentary The Six Degrees of Helter Skelter, which was films by the same folks running Find a Death. A link to purchase the DVD can be found at dearlydepartedtours.com, just click the Helter Skelter tour link at the top and scroll down. It is my all time favorite true crime documentary and deserves a watch!