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Charles Manson - the Music Behind the Man

Updated on June 8, 2019

Charles Manson

Think Charles Manson and think cult leader of The Family with the persuasive and mind controlling powers to incite murder.

Born on the 12th November 1934, Charles Milles Manson, would be known, 35 years later as the serial killer who rocked the celebrity world.

Manson spent his youth in and out of various institutions. Aged 25 he was sentenced to McNeil prison.

Whilst incarcerated at McNeil, Mason was introduced to the idea of Scientology and was particularly interested in the status of ' clear' which means a person has become free of past negative and traumatic events and feelings. This coupled with his love of music meant Manson was soon writing his own material believing that once he was released he would become a famous musician.

Also at McNeil, at the same time as Manson was Alvin 'Creepy' Karpis, former member of the Ma Barker gang, who after much badgering taught Manson to play the steel guitar.

Manson's love of music was born.


The Family

 In March 1967 Manson was released back into a world which was embracing the 'Summer of Love' Introduced to LSD and full of optimism Charles set off on a musical venture which would involve recruiting people to his way of thinking. With the ideology of love to the fore Manson's family of followers began to grow. Forever on the move the Manson Family began to spread the word of his music and the religious cult began.

Musical associates

It was two of Manson's followers, Patricia Krenwinkel aka Katie, and Ella Jo Bailey who inadvertently introduced Manson to Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. The two girls were hitching a ride when they were picked up by the band member. Following this encounter, Wilson was in turn introduced to Manson.

Manson soon become a regular at Wilson's home and it was through this association that he met the music producer Terry Melcher. Melcher agreed to allow Manson studio time. The recordings were an unusual set up with Manson having no prior experience of Studio recordings. It is believed that Manson arrived at the studio with many of his female followers all high on various drugs and an impromptu session commenced.

Any recordings made were subsequently shelved and no contract agreed.

As Charles was regularly seen playing live to a captive audience it was suggested that Terry Melcher may be more positive about Mansons music if he was to experience the man in his home territory. Melcher was impressed at mansons ability to gravitiate the audiences to him, but underlying the cool exterior Melcher suspected Mansons mental stability and the project was again stopped.

These constant setbacks did nothing to improve Mansons mental state. Seeing himself as and calling himself Jesus Christ he could not understand or handle the rejection which was been thrown at him.

Helter Skelter

Mansons rejection and set backs soon began to have a visible effect on his grasp of reality. His control over the Family became extreme as he gradually became more and more paranoid about racial tensions.

His love and peace approach was rapidly becoming replaced with talk of Armageddon. Manson strongly believed that the race war would bring about the apocalypse. Charles stated that he and the Family would go underground to a subterranean garden deep in Death Valley. There they would stay until the Family number reached 144,000. Manson had picked on this number from Revelation 7 which stated 12 tribes of 12,000 would reclaim the land. Manson clearly believed that on their re-appearance the blacks would willingly become their slaves.

With the Release of the Beatles White Album in 1969, Manson was finally tipped over the edge. He believed the Fab Four had written the album for him, subconsciously sending him messages of the approaching end.

Manson saw Helter Skelter and the repetitive chant of coming down fast as the signal of Armageddon. When the racial tensions did not appear Manson decided to take Helter Skelter into his own hands. This resulted in the fateful nights of the 9th & 10th August 1969 when 8 innocent people were butchered, under Manson's instruction by the Family.

Of the White Album, Helter Skelter is the most notorious for the Manson Family. The words Helter Skelter were daubed in the murder victims blood at Cielo Drive.

Another song highlighted by Manson was Sexy Sadie. Susan Atkins, a loyal follower had previoulsy been re-named Sadie by Charles. The out of control leader saw this as further proof that the Beatles were speaking to him through their music.

Although various theories have been put forward for Mansons actions, the association with the Beatles Album has become the most famous.

Mansons Musical Contribution

Both before and during his incarceration for the Cielo Drive murders Manson composed many songs.

Perhaps one of the most well known is Never Learn Not To Love which appeared on the Beach Boys 20/20 album in 1969. Originally entitled Cease to exist, the name was changed and lyrics altered to cease to resist.

Many of Manson's songs, penned whilst under the influence of LSD spiralled into the unknown. With titles such as, Sick City, Devil Man and garbage dump we can gain an insight into the views and life of the man.

Look At Your Game Girl was at one point going to be included on the covers album, Spaghetti Junction by Guns N Roses. It wasn't until Patti Tate the sister of the murdered Sharon Tate took the issue to Geffen records and the press that this decision was overturned.

Even the murder property of Cielo drive has since been used musically. With Nine Inch Nails recording their album Downward Spiral at he property.

Marilyn Manson recorded tracks there for his first album.

In 1970, whilst In prison, Manson released the album , Lie, the Love And Terror Cult.

Throughout his incarceration Manson has kept his love of music to the fore.

Whatever else can be said of the man he still appears determined to live his dream.


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