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Charles Milles Manson (born November 12, 1934 as Charles Milles Maddox) was the founder and leader of the "Manson Family," a hippie cult he began in San Francisco in 1967. He was convicted of having commanded certain members of his cult to commit the August, 1969, Tate-LaBianca murders in Los Angeles. He is currently an inmate at Corcoran State Prison in California, having been denied parole 10 times.

Manson has spent most of his adult life in prison, initially for offenses such as car theft, forgery, credit card fraud and pimping. In the late 1960s, he migrated to California, wanting to become a musician; instead, he befriended some disenfranchised young people and began calling them his "family." He ordered them to carry out several murders, including that of movie actress Sharon Tate (wife of the Polish movie director Roman Polański). Tate was eight and a half months pregnant at the time. Manson was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder. He is serving a life sentence but will be up for parole in 2007 at the age of 73. Manson has always maintained his non-involvement in the Tate-LaBianca murders.

Manson was also friends with several notable musicians before the murders, including Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys, and was a marginally successful musician who recorded several albums; his songs have since been covered by many artists.

Since his trial and conviction, Manson's name and image have been integrated into American pop culture, typically as a symbol of evil. [1]

Early life

Charles Milles Maddox was born at Cincinnati General Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 12, 1934 to a 16-year-old unwed girl named Kathleen Maddox. Shortly after her son's birth, Kathleen married William Manson, who provided the last name by which he is now known. William Manson was Charles' stepfather; by most accounts Manson did not know his biological father.

In 1939, his mother and his uncle, Luther Maddox, were convicted of sexual assault and holdup of a gas station. Luther served five years in the West Virginia State Penitentiary, dying there in 1949.

His mother was an alcoholic prostitute who (by Manson's account) sold him for a pitcher of beer. In and out of reform school as a youngster, he had a reported IQ of 109 and became a kind of institutional politician and manipulator by age 19.

From then on his continuous scrapes with the law landed him in prison. His record there described Manson as having "a tremendous drive to call attention to himself." [2]

Manson attended Walnut Hills High School as a child. When he was thirteen, his mother (who had become an alcoholic) attempted to put him in a foster home. When she was unable to find one for him, he ended up at Gibault School for Boys, a reform school in Terre Haute, Indiana. Within a year he ran away and back to his mother, who rejected him. He began living on the streets, supporting himself by petty theft; in 1951, after a string of arrests and escapes, Manson fled to California, where he was apprehended and placed in the National Training School for Boys in Washington, D.C., a Federal juvenile facility, for driving a stolen car across state lines. At least one psychiatrist there observed marked anti-social tendencies, and in that same year, Manson raped another boy. By 1952, Manson already had eight assault charges against him. After being transferred to the Federal Reformatory in Petersburg, Virginia, and later to Chillicothe, Ohio, Manson became a model inmate, resulting in his parole in 1954 at the age of 20. Following his release, however, he continued along a criminal path. His crimes quickly escalated to major offenses, including Mann Act violations. [Prior to the Tate-LaBianca murders, Manson had already spent more than half his life (approximately 17 years) in Federal prison, at one point in 1967 asking not to be released.] In January 1955, Manson married 17-year-old Rosalie Jean Willis, and decided to move to California. Soon after the wedding, Manson stole a car and was arrested. Willis became pregnant in April. Manson's parole was revoked in 1956 when he missed a court date. Soon after his arrest, Willis gave birth to their son, Charles Milles Manson, Jr. She then left town with a truck driver and Charles Jr., who committed suicide in 1993.)

Manson's prison and probation reports showed a consistent theme:

(1950-52) "Tries to give the impression of trying hard although actually not putting forth any effort ...marked degree of rejection, instability and psychic trauma ... constantly striving for status ... a fairly slick institutionalized youth who has not given up in terms of securing some kind of love and affection from the world ... dangerous ... should not be trusted across the street ... assaultive tendencies ... safe only under supervision ... unpredictable ... in spite of his age he is criminally sophisticated and grossly unsuited for retention in an open reformatory type institution"; (1958-59) "Almost without exception [he] will let down anyone who went to bat for him ... an almost classic case of correctional institutional inmate ... a very difficult case and it is almost impossible to predict his future adjustment ... a very shaky probationer and it seems just a matter of time before he gets into further trouble."

Manson was paroled in 1958 after serving two years of a three-year sentence. In 1959, he was arrested again for passing stolen checks. Once again, he was given probation, which was revoked nine months later.

On June 1, 1960, Manson was arrested for solicitation of prostitution. He was ordered to serve his 10-year suspended sentence for passing stolen checks at the federal prison on McNeil Island in Washington state. While at McNeil, Manson was a cell mate of notorious 1930s bank robber Alvin Karpis who taught Manson to read music and to play the guitar. It is interesting what Karpis wrote about Manson in his memoirs "On the Rock: Twenty-five Years at Alcatraz" (written with Robert Livesey, published in 1980):

"This kid approaches me to request music lessons. He wants to learn guitar and become a music star. 'Little Charlie' is so lazy and shiftless, I doubt if he'll put the time required to learn. The youngster has been in institutions all of his life--first orphanages, then reformatories, and finally federal prison. His mother, a prostitute, was never around to look after him. I decide it's time someone did something for him, and to my surprise, he learns quickly. He has a pleasant voice and a pleasing personality, although he's unusually meek and mild for a convict. He never has a harsh word to say and is never involved in even an argument."

After Manson had become somewhat proficient on the guitar, he asked Karpis for help in getting a job playing in Las Vegas as Karpis had contacts with nightclub and casino owners there. Manson even told him he would be bigger than the Beatles, but in the end Karpis decided to leave Manson on his own regarding his music career. Manson was moved to a Los Angeles facility in 1967, a step which proved to be one of the most ominous prison transfers ever. Later Karpis added "The history of crime in the United States might have been considerably altered if 'Little Charlie' had been given the opportunity to find fame and fortune in the music industry."

Manson was finally released March 21, 1967, against his own expressed wish to remain in prison. While either in prison or on probation, he had stolen cars, pimped inmates, raped another inmate and forged federal checks. His prison reports continued with the same message:

(1961-62) "He hides his resentment and hostility behind a mask of superficial ingratiation ... even his cries for help represent a desire for attention with only superficial meaning"; (1964) "Pattern of instability continues...intense need to call attention to himself...fanatical interests"; then finally, (1966) "Manson is about to complete his ten-year term. He has a pattern of criminal behavior and confinement that dates to his teen years ... little can be expected in the way of change."

At 33 years old, he had spent more than half of his life in institutions and did not want freedom. "Oh, no, I can't go outside there...I knew that I couldn't adjust to that world," he said.

Manson started to attract a group of followers, many of whom were very young women with troubled emotional lives who were rebelling against their parents and society in general. This was the core of the Manson Family execution team whom he ordered to go to that address who happened along Sharon Tate, who was living there at the time (Manson knew the house as belonging to a man who rejected his record deal,Terry Melcher), killing Tate, her wealthy house guests, and the well-to-do LaBiancas, which was part of a plot by Manson to start a global race war.

The murders

The Manson Family was responsible for several murders, known collectively as the Tate-LaBianca murders.

The Tate murders

On the night of August 9, 1969, Manson directed some members of the Family, Charles "Tex" Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins, and Linda Kasabian to go to the former residence of an acquaintance, record producer Terry Melcher, and kill whoever was on the premises.

They left their Spahn Ranch compound and arrived at midnight at the grounds of the Beverly Hills home of the film director Roman Polański and his wife Sharon Tate. Polański, highly acclaimed for his recent hit Rosemary's Baby, was in London working on his next film and had asked friends to stay with Tate, who was eight and a half months pregnant. Before entering the house, the Manson family members shot dead Steven Parent, an 18-year-old friend of Tate's gardener, William Garretson, who was leaving the property and had seen the intruders while getting in his car. Kasabian, who was acting as the getaway driver, expressed horror at the murder of Parent and was told to remain outside and keep watch while the others entered the house.

The quotation, "I am the devil, and I have come to do the devil's work" has been attributed to Watson when Wojciech "Wojtek" Frykowski awoke from his slumber on the living room couch. They assembled the four occupants of the house into the living room. The intruders asked if anyone had money, and, in replying that she did, Abigail Folger, heiress to the Folgers Coffee Company, was led to her bedroom to empty her purse. She was led back to the living room where the four occupants of the house were tied together. Jay Sebring, a noted hairstylist and friend of the Polańskis was visiting, and when he attempted to defend Tate, he was shot by Watson, who then kicked him several times in the face.

Frykowski and Folger, who were staying in the house until Polański's return from London, were able to escape from the living room and were each pursued as they ran onto the front lawn. Quickly overtaken by the attackers, Frykowski was stabbed fifty-one times, shot twice. This was allegedly inspired by the Beatles song “Piggies”.

Linda Kasabian later received immunity for submitting evidence against the group. She told Manson, "I'm not you, Charlie. I can't kill anybody," and evinced shock and horror in court at finally seeing police photographs of the murdered victims.

The LaBianca murders

The following night in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles, California, wealthy supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary were killed in their home, once again by members of the Family (Watson, Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten). On this occasion, Manson apparently went along to "show them how to do it" with less tumult, and pacified the victims, tying them up before returning to the car to tell his followers to commit the killings. Watson apparently killed Mr. LaBianca, and Krenwinkel and Van Houten took turns stabbing Mrs. LaBianca when she began to struggle. Between them, the two girls stabbed Mrs. LaBianca 41 times, including more than 20 stab wounds made after the woman was dead. Krenwinkel then added to the butchery, using a carving fork to cut the word "WAR" into Mr. LaBianca's chest. She then left the fork embedded in his stomach, soaking up some blood on a piece of paper and writing the phrases "RISE" and "DEATH TO PIGS" on the walls, as well as the misspelled "HEALTER SKELTER" on the refrigerator.

Other murders

Members of the Manson Family had previously been responsible for the death of Gary Hinman, a high school music teacher in nearby Topanga Canyon. Manson ordered the killing of Hinman after he denied the Manson Family money that Charles claimed Hinman owed them. Bobby Beausoleil was arrested for Hinman's murder a few days before the Tate slaying; later Susan Atkins confessed her part in the plot.

On August 16, 1969, Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies descended upon Spahn Ranch and arrested Manson and most of the Family members on suspicion of auto theft (the Family were not, as yet, suspected of the Tate or LaBianca killings). Ranch hand Donald "Shorty" Shea offered to tell the deputies what he knew about the Family's activities, but disappeared before he could give them a statement. It is believed that on August 25 or 26, after the Family members were released due to lack of evidence, Manson directed Family members, including Steve "Clem Tufts" Grogan, to kill Shea. One of the enduring Family myths, presumably used to frighten members into submission, was that Shea was dismembered and his body parts buried in different places around the ranch. In 1977, the incarcerated and extremely remorseful Grogan directed law enforcement officials to Shea's body, and it was found in one piece, contrary to the horror story passed down through the Family. Grogan, who was paroled in 1985, is still the only former Family member to have been paroled after being convicted of a Manson-ordered murder.


Barker Ranch, on the outskirts of California's Death Valley, is known as the last hideout of Manson and his "family" after the gruesome Los Angeles murder spree. The local county sheriff's department and National Park Service officers had arrested Manson and his group in 1969 on suspicion of trespassing and vandalism. Some of the members of the organization were seen burning a mass of road-grading material and arson investigators suspected the crime to have come from Manson. At the time of the Manson arrests, the officers were unaware of other criminal actions by those they had in custody. They wanted to apprehend and prosecute the persons responsible for vandalizing road repair equipment in Death Valley National Park farther north, not knowing that they had Manson and his followers. Manson was ultimately discovered hiding beneath a sink in the Barker Ranch bathroom.

Possible motives

The murders initially seemed random, but some key motives were later identified:

  1. Manson suffered from antisocial personality disorder, a disorder that makes the sufferer unable to feel remorse for their actions and lack a conscience.
  2. Manson believed he exacted the work of “The Book of the Law” in instituting natural selection according to the principles of Aleister Crowley
  3. Manson was hostile towards society; Manson got a "kick" out of death and control. During the trial, one witness commented that "he [Manson] doesn't know about love... love is not his trip. Death is his trip." When questioned, Manson replied, "My trip is that death is the greatest form of love."
  4. Manson had been rejected by the music industry and wanted revenge. In 1968, Manson was introduced to record producer Terry Melcher, son of actress Doris Day, by Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, who had picked up a couple of the Family members as they were hitchhiking. Manson and the Family moved into Wilson's house, where they lived for a year, and the Beach Boys recorded a song Manson wrote, calling it 'Never Learn Not to Love.' At the time, Melcher and his girlfriend, actress Candice Bergen, were living at the Tate house, and it was there Manson met him. Manson auditioned for Melcher, but Melcher decided not to sign him to a contract. Although Manson knew that Melcher and Bergen had moved to Malibu, Bugliosi suggested that Manson targeted the house because it represented his rejection by the show business community he wanted to enter, and that it was of no interest to him who his actual victims would be. It has also been rumored that Manson unsuccessfully auditioned for the Monkees, but this is an urban legend as he was in prison at the time of the auditions in 1965-66.
  5. The killers were attempting to clear the blame from Bobby Beausoleil, who had been arrested a few days earlier as a suspect in the Gary Hinman murder. This was a motive stated by the killers during interviews with them, featured in a 1972 Manson film documentary. They claimed that the motive for the murders was to clear fellow Family member Bobby Beausoleil, whom they described as a brother to them. Stating that they were willing to sacrifice their lives, (meaning the death penalty) to clear his name, they committed copycat murders to cast doubt on Beausoleil's guilt. This motive was substantially discredited during the penalty phase of the trial, where it became apparent that the "free Beausoleil" motive was contradicted by other testimony of the killers. Additionally, despite declaring they would die for Manson, the other people accused claim to have waited until the main trial was over and the death penalty was being discussed, and then only on redirect examination, to introduce this as a motive. It was dismissed by the prosecution as an attempt to clear Manson by means of the other defendants taking the blame.
  6. Manson regarded as foretold, by The Beatles, on The White Album,[3] an apocalyptic war of which he was destined to be both the uncanny cause and the ultimate beneficiary [4]. When, by his music, he (Manson) would have drawn to him the young, white female hippies of San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, black men, thus deprived of the white women whom the political changes of the 1960s had made sexually available to them, would be without an outlet for their frustrations and would lash out in violent crimes against whites. [5] After a resultant murderous rampage against blacks by frightened whites would have been exploited by the Black Muslims to trigger a war of mutual near-extermination between racist and non-racist whites over the treatment of blacks, the Black Muslims would arise to finish off sneakily the few whites they would know to have survived. In this epic sequence of events, which Manson told his followers would take place in the summer of 1969 and which he termed Helter Skelter, after the White Album track of that name, the Family had little to fear; they would wait out the war in a secret city that was underneath California's Death Valley and that they would reach through a hole in the ground. As the actual remaining whites upon the war's true conclusion, they would emerge from underground to rule the now-satisfied blacks, who, as the vision went, would be incapable of running the world; Manson "would scratch [the black man's] fuzzy head and kick him in the butt and tell him to go pick the cotton and go be a good nigger." Laid out by Manson repeatedly, this scenario became such a part of the Family members’ communal belief that they stocked up supplies and searched for the hole in the ground before the crimes were conceived; but by mid-1969, Manson was heard to say blacks did not know how to start the events. He would have to show them.
  7. In a series of books chronicling his life as an FBI agent, John Douglas submitted the theory that Manson really was innocent of plotting the initial set of murders. Douglas, who spent significant time interviewing Manson during his time as a special agent, believes that initially, Manson's sole goal in leading "The Family" was to live out the rest of his days as an isolated demi-god ruling over a group of impressionable young people who would do his bidding. In order to ensure that they remained loyal to him, Manson convinced them that he really was a deistic figure who would protect them during the coming Armageddon and rule over them in a peaceful society afterwards. Douglas' theory goes on to state that Manson's followers took his prophesying more literally than intended and carried out the Sharon Tate murders in order to spark Armageddon. According to Douglas, once Manson learned about the Tate murders, he felt he had no choice but to act as if he were still in control and go along with the LaBianca killings in order to protect his image and prevent his followers from turning on him.

In the trial, the prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi, placed Helter Skelter as the main motive. [6] Evidence included testimony that, on the night of the LaBianca murders, Manson considered discarding on the street a wallet he apparently obtained in the LaBianca house; he "wanted a black person to pick it up and use the credit cards so that the people, the establishment would think it was some sort of an organized group that killed these people." [7]

Investigation and trial

The two cases were not well investigated by police, principally due to rivalries between the Tate team (older) and the La Bianca team (younger): the Tate team were not open to suggestions that the two cases were connected. As a result of this, Bugliosi himself played a significant and active role in gathering the evidence needed to convict.

Ronald Hughes, a young lawyer with an extensive knowledge of 1960s counterculture but no trial experience, was the final state-appointed attorney for defendants Manson and Van Houten (several other attorneys were appointed and then dismissed during the trial). He suggested to Manson that he should obtain a different attorney for himself, Irving Kanarek, and continued to defend Van Houten, apparently feeling that he could defend Van Houten more effectively. He hoped to show that Van Houten was acting under the influence of Manson, and to portray Manson as controlling her actions. This may have cost Hughes his life. In late November 1970, Hughes went camping near Sespe Hot Springs. He disappeared, and his decomposed body was discovered four months later. It is thought that other members of the Family killed him in reprisal for impugning Manson in court. One member of the Family described this as "the first of the retaliation killings".

During the trial, Manson and his followers courted media attention. Manson appeared at the trial with an "X" he had carved into his forehead with a knife. This was copied by his followers the next day. The pattern was modified several times and copied by his followers each time. Eventually the pattern was turned into a swastika and is now a permanent scar. At one point during the trial, Manson shaved his head, his followers again mimicking. The defendants, acting in concert with each other, deliberately disrupted the proceedings to the point where Judge Charles Older had them removed from the courtroom on several occasions. A monitor system was rigged up in the lockup so that the defendants could follow the proceedings. On several occasions, Manson verbally threatened both the judge and prosecutor Bugliosi in court, and at one point attempted to physically attack the judge. The defendants eventually became so disruptive that Judge Older banned them from the courtroom altogether.

Manson's followers tried to dissuade an estranged follower, Barbara Hoyt, from testifying against Manson at the trial by giving her a free trip to Hawaii - and a hamburger laced with LSD once she arrived there (the conspirators were under the mistaken belief that an LSD overdose was fatal). Hoyt was found in a drugged semi-stupor on a street near a Honolulu beach, hospitalized, and identified herself as a witness in the Tate-LaBianca trial once she recovered from her LSD trip. The involuntary overdose ultimately made Hoyt an even stronger witness for the prosecution, and she testified about Family discussions about the murders.

Although Manson himself was not present at the Tate/La Bianca killings, he was convicted on seven counts of murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder on January 25, 1971, for ordering and directing them, and on March 29, 1971 was sentenced to death. Atkins and Krenwinkel were convicted on the same counts, as was Watson (who was tried separately from the others due to extradition problems), and Van Houten was convicted of two counts of murder and one count of conspiracy. Some members of Manson's "Family" have claimed that the killers tried to implicate Manson in order to appear less guilty themselves. The death sentence was automatically commuted to life in prison after the California Supreme Court, in its decision in California v. Anderson 64 Cal.2d 633, 414 P.2d 366, (Cal. 1972), resulted in the invalidation of all pending death sentences imposed in California prior to 1972. The killers, giggling in court, were asked if they felt remorse, and gave answers that indicated they did not.


On March 6, 1970, Manson released an album titled Lie: The Love & Terror Cult to help finance his defense. The album was put out by ESP Records and included the song that had previously been recorded by the Beach Boys.

The Family survived the incarceration of Manson. After his arrest, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, one of Manson's shrewdest, toughest and most obedient followers, effectively took command of the management of the Family in his absence. With a handful of other followers, mostly women, she perched on the steps of the Los Angeles courthouse during the trial, shaved her head to protest his conviction and, copying Manson, gouged an X into her forehead as a sign of loyalty. She later explained: "We have X'ed ourselves out of this world." In 1970 the Charles Manson family recorded an album titled The Family Jams of songs written by Manson, although he didn't appear on the album.

On November 13, 1972, Michael Monfort, James Craig, Priscilla Cooper, Nancy Laura Pitman and Lynnette Alice "Squeaky" Fromme were held for the murder of James T. Willett and his wife.

By 1974, the original Manson "family" had dwindled to only Fromme and Sandra Good. Motivated by Manson's new ideology, they sent a series of threatening letters to heads of corporations, making threats unless they stopped polluting the environment.

On September 5, 1975, Fromme unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate US President Gerald Ford in Sacramento [8]. It appears that, although she managed to get close to Ford, by mistake the chamber of her Colt .45 pistol was empty. She was heard to say, "It didn't go off. Can you believe it? It didn't go off!" She stated she had committed the crime so that Manson would appear as a witness at her trial, and thus have a worldwide platform from which to talk about his apocalyptic vision. She escaped from prison in December 1987, apparently to try to reach Manson, but was recaptured two days later.

Manson gave two notable interviews in the 1980s: the first on June 13, 1981 at California Medical Facility by Tom Snyder for NBC's The Tomorrow Show, and the second at San Quentin Prison by Charlie Rose for CBS News Nightwatch (aired March 7, 1986). Rose's interview won the national news Emmy Award for "Best Interview" in 1987. [9]

Manson is currently incarcerated in California's Corcoran State Prison. His CDC inmate number is B33920. All of his applications for parole have been denied, most notably in 1986 when he appeared before the parole board with a swastika evident on his forehead. He is known for his theatrics when given the opportunity to appear in the media, and in one taped parole hearing said he wanted to go to the moon. He has been overheard in conversations with at least one of his former "Family" members saying that it doesn't matter what he says or does because he knows he will be kept in prison for the rest of his life, implying that at least some of his fanatical behavior is deliberate. During his imprisonment, Manson has received more mail than any other prisoner in the United States prison system. It is said that he gets over 50,000 pieces of mail a year–a combination of fan mail, hate mail, and mail from curiosity-seekers.

In January 2000, Manson was publishing messages on a now-defunct website run by Manson followers George Stimson and Sandra Good.

Parole hearings

Manson was entitled to a parole hearing in 2002, and was denied early release, in particular due to a "litany" of offenses ranging from drug trafficking to [[arson to assaulting guards. He is next eligible for parole in 2007.

Fromme, eligible for parole since 1985 following the 1975 incident, has consistently waived her right to a hearing.

Covers and tributes

  • Cleveland, Ohio-based alternative metal band Mushroomhead references Manson in the song "Bwomp" off of their sophomore album "Superbuick". They say throughout the song, "If it was up to me, I'd free Charles Manson".
  • The aptly named Italian record label Helter Skelter Records released the compilation Comin' Down Fast! : a gathering of garbage, lies and reflections on Charles Manson on CD and 10" vinyl in 1993, with contributions by David Peel & The Lower East Side, Motorpsycho, Starfuckers, Eugene Chadbourne, Jesus Fuck & Da Murderers, [[Controlled Bleeding, Skullflower and others.
  • Sonic Boom and Frank Kozik issued a 7" single on Sympathy for the Record Industry in 1994, featuring two different versions of Manson's song "Mechanical Man", one side with vocals by Kozic, the other side with vocals by Sonic, who also plays all instruments on both sides.
  • The compilation cassette Watching Satan : the legacy of Charles Manson : a 90 minute slice of modern folklore, released by Hypertonia World Enterprises, included covers and tributes by Seedjoy, Charles Rice Goff III, Abrahadabra, Sinister Attraction, Hope Organ, Anton Balsam, Squidbelly Phlegmfoot & The Plug Uglies, Neither/Neither World, ZBZ, The A.A. Experience, The Bill Jones Show, Plastic Eye Miracle, Geoff X. Alexander, GG Allin, Las Animas, The Arnold Incorporated, Dr. Maya, Anus Presley, David Barnes, Lord Litter and The Apostles.
  • The band Alkaline Trio, released a song on their album Crimson called "Sadie" about Susan Atkins, a murderer in the Charles Manson family who took part in the Sharon Tate murders in 1969.
  • In 1976, Throbbing Gristle made a film entitled "After Cease To Exist", inspired by a Manson song title
  • In 1982, Boston hardcore punk band Negative FX featured a picture of Charles Manson, with their logo digitally "carved" into his head, on their self-titled LP. It also featured pictures of Manson family members on the back.
  • Since 2003, a Orange county NY based Noise-punk band known as "Sparrows with Machine-guns" has done a cover of "Home is Where You're Happy" at live gigs only. They plan to record the cover for a 2007 full length album.
  • Sonic Youth, in cooperation with director Richard Kern, produced a video clip for their song "Death Valley '69," in which some of the band members acted out gory scenes reminiscent of the Tate/LaBianca murders.
  • In 2002, Dilute did a cover version of "Home is Where You're Happy" on If The Twenty-First Century Didn't Exist It Would Be Necessary To Invent It CD (5 Rue Christine [10])
  • Neo-psychedelica band The Brian Jonestown Massacre references the life of Manson in their songs "Arkansas Revisited" and "The Ballad of Jim Jones".
  • UK underground electronic music pioneers, Cabaret Voltaire, used Manson's voice from various radio interviews, which they used in their tracks "Hell's Home", "Kickback" and "Golden Halos" featured on their album "The Covenant, The Sword And The Arm Of The Lord" released in 1985.
  • System of a Down wrote the song "ATWA" on their Toxicity album about the media's viewpoints on Manson. (ATWA is an acronym used by Manson, meaning both "Air-Trees-Water-Animals" and "all the way alive.").
  • Ozzy Osbourne recorded "Bloodbath in Paradise" on his No Rest for the Wicked album about the California murders.
  • The music video for "Gave Up" by Nine Inch Nails was shot entirely at 10050 Cielo Drive in the summer of 1993 when their lead singer, Trent Reznor, had leased the property in Benedict Canyon from Rudi Altobelli. In the video, the song was performed in the living room of the main house, with the exterior of the house and grounds shown at the beginning and the end. Among the performers was a young Marilyn Manson, who gave Reznor the idea, and who also shot a video at Cielo. Reznor claimed to have no knowledge of the slaughter that took place at the house before moving in, and coincidentally he dubbed the studio "Le Pig", and recorded the album The Downward Spiral there, on which two of the tracks were named "Piggy" and "March of the Pigs".
  • In 1969, months prior to the Tate-LaBianca murders, The Beach Boys covered "Cease to Exist", retitling it "Never Learn Not to Love" and releasing it on the album 20/20 (with sole songwriting credit given to Dennis Wilson).
  • John Moran and Iggy Pop collaborated on The Manson Family: An Opera, which was produced by Philip Glass.
  • Crispin Glover performs a cover of "Always is Always Forever" on his album "The Big Problem"
  • Devendra Banhart covers "Home Is Where You're Happy" as a part of a medley with Lauryn Hill's Doo Wop (That Thing). He performed it at Bonnaroo and the Pitchfork Music Festival in 2006.
  • Guns N' Roses covered the Manson song "Look At Your Game Girl" on their album "The Spaghetti Incident?". The song does not appear on the track listings of the CD; it is a "secret song" that plays at the end of the last track. At the end of the song Axl thanks Manson, stating "thanks Chaz".
  • Skinny Puppy have used samples of Manson speaking and singing The Beatles' "Helter Skelter" (as well as samples of the actual song) in their song, "Worlock," from 1989's “Rabies”. Samples of Manson speaking can also be heard on "Convulsion," from 1990's Too Dark Park Members of Skinny Puppy (as Download) also recorded a soundtrack for the Jim Van Bebber film Charlie's Family (a.k.a. The Manson Family)
  • Hip Hop duo 'Heltah Skeltah', a break off from The Boot Camp Clik - share the same name as the infamous 'Manson Family' murder signature.
  • The British band Kasabian takes its name from Linda Kasabian, getaway driver and member of the Manson Family.
  • Argentine rock band Babasónicos have a song titled "Sharon Tate", after the actress murdered by Charles Manson and his followers, in their 1999 album Miami.
  • Neil Young's 1974 album On the Beach included a song Young had written from Manson's point of view titled "Revolution Blues". Young had met Manson while living in Topanga Canyon.
  • American skinhead band People Haters recorded a song "Charlie Manson´s eyes" for their 1995 released debut cd "A collection of hate".
  • The Acacia Strain sample Manson saying "Believe me, if I started murdering people, there'd be none of you left" in their song Passing the Pencil Test off of the album 3750
  • Negativland's 1989 album Helter Stupid sampled interviews with Manson during the title cut.
  • Gothic metal band Paradise Lost inlcuded a sample of Manson's voice from the British television commentary in "Forever Failure", a track from the album Draconian Times.
  • Pantera, American heavy metal band, makes a reference to Manson by including his quote, "No sense makes sense" in the lyrics to the song "Uplift".
  • Superjoint Ritual, a heavy metal band led by Pantera's Phil Anselmo, mentions Charles Manson in their song "Dress Like A Target" stating "we're not hippies, we're slippys. Like the Manson Family". Their song "Creepy Crawl" is entirely about Manson, and the title of the song refers to Charlie's petname for breaking-and-entering.
  • Dragonland's song "Calling my Name" off of their 2004 album Starfall contains several clips of Manson, including the line "Believe me, if I started murdering people, there'd be none of you left".

Pop culture references and parodies

  • Marilyn Manson derived his stage name from the names of Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson.
  • Death Rap artist Necro utilizes the image and voice of Charles Manson quite frequently in his work. He is also known to reference the Tate-La Bianca murders on many of his songs. Most notably, the album The Pre-Fix For Death features an intro by Manson himself, whose presence is maintained throughout the whole of the album.
  • The Tate-La Bianca Murders have been dramatized in movies several times, most notably in 1976's Helter Skelter, starring Steve Railsback as Manson, and its 2004 TV movie remake, which starred Jeremy Davies as Manson, Bruno Kirby as Bugliosi, and Clea DuVall as Kasabian.
  • Manson appeared as a cartoon character in a South Park episode, "Merry Christmas, Charlie Manson!", in which Manson returns to jail willingly after seeing several Christmas specials. He is also the only character in the episode to show concern over the death of Kenny.
  • Hardcore Rap N.W.A. Ice Cube lyrics refers Manson's name quote with a murder rate like Charles Manson on NWA's Straight outta Compton.
  • A lyrical passage in the heavy metal band Mushroomhead song "Bwomp" from their album 2001 album, "XX," says "If it was up to me, I'd free Charles Manson."
  • In the early nineties, The Ben Stiller Show filmed a mock episode of Lassie entitled "Manson," in which Charles Manson is portrayed as the family dog, and goes on to save Timmy from a snake bite down at the creek.
  • Also on The Ben Stiller Show, Manson was portrayed by comedian Bob Odenkirk.
  • American Death Metal Band Deicide, wrote the song "Lunatic of God's Creation" about the Charles Manson Murders.
  • Although the names were changed a movie about the Manson Murders was made called Live Freaky, Die Freaky. Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day played Charles Manson. Other punk rock icons were also parts in the movie as well.
  • In the episode "Tech Support" of the online cartoon Neurotically Yours, the character Foamy the Squirrel refers to his computer being " unstable as Charles Manson."
  • Family Guy briefly show him in a cutaway watching T.V. in jail
  • At the beginning of the U2 cover of Helter Skelter on the Rattle and Hum album, Bono says "This is a song Charles Manson stole from The Beatles. We're stealing it back."
  • In the movie Natural Born Killers, Manson is referred to as 'the king' by the serial killer character Mickey Knox.
  • The 3tards have a picture of Charles Manson in there logo with the words "Call me crazy but I love the 3tards" written under it.
  • For his 1974 album On the Beach, Neil Young wrote Revolution Blues through the eyes of a character inspired by Manson, whom Young had met in his Topanga Canyon days.
  • At the end of Thank You for Smoking, character Nick Naylor states, "Michael Jordan plays ball. Charles Manson kills people. I talk."
  • In the cartoon show, Futurama, when Bender gets bit by a were-car and they find out who made the original were-car, it was said that they took a part of Charles Manson's hippie van.
  • In the movie Liar, Liar, Jim Carey insists that the Judge's decision regarding custody of the children is a mistake and yells at him by saying "...Well maybe you can explain that to [the children] when they're adopted by the Manson Family!"



  • Lie: The Love & Terror Cult|Lie: The Love And Terror Cult (LP, Performance, 1970. Reissued on LP/CD/MC on various labels). Recorded in 1968.
  • White Rasta (MC). Songs and improvisations recorded in jail in 1983.
  • Poor Old Prisoner Boy : The 55th Anniversary Album (LP, Remote Control Records). Contains 55 minutes of jail recordings. Edition of 555 copies.
  • Son Of Man (LP, 1992). The A side contains jail recordings, while the B side is etched with a reproduction of a drawing of faces done by Manson. Also includes liner notes of poetry attributed to Manson.
  • Live At San Quentin (CD, Grey Matter, 1993). Contains the same tracks as White Rasta, in a different order. Cover art apes The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album.
  • Charles Manson (CD, Grey Matter, 1993). A combination of Lie and The Manson Family Sings, packaged to look like The Beatles' White Album.
  • Commemoration (CD, White Devil Records, 1994). Released to commemorate Manson's 60th birthday and "sixty years of struggle against cowardice, stupidity and lies".
  • Manson Speaks (2CD, White Devil Records, 1995). Contains one disc of recitals by Manson of poetry and the Bible and one disc of Manson's opinions of actual events at the time of the release.
  • The Way Of The Wolf (CD, Pale Horse, 1998). Music and some bonus conversation recorded in jail in the 1980s.
  • Unplugged 9.11.67 Volume 1 (CD, Archer C.A.T. Productions Inc.). Recordings done by Manson in 1967 as well as spoken words between Manson and some people at the recording session.
  • A Taste of Freedom (CD-R, 2000(?)). Contains telephone conversations with Charles Manson recorded in late 1999 and early 2000. Very limited edition.
  • All The Way Alive (CD, People's Temple Records, 2003). Previously unreleased studio recordings from 1967. Edition of 1000 copies.
  • One Mind (CD,, 2005). New recordings of songs, guitar, impromptu poetry and words.
  • Sings (CD, ESP Disk, 2006). Digitally remastered combination of Lie and 12 of the 13 tracks on All The Way Alive.


  • "I'm On Fire" / "The Hallways of Always" Tracks taken from "Live At San Quentin"
  • "Look At Your Game, Girl" / "Your Home Is Where You're Happy"
  • "Bwomp" Track taken from "Mushroomhead - XX"

Recordings by The Family not featuring Charles Manson

  • The Manson Family Sings The Songs Of Charles Manson (LP). 1970 recordings of Manson's songs performed by Steve Grogan as lead singer, along with Red, Blue, Gypsy, Brenda, Ouisch and Capistrano.
  • The Family Jams (2CD, Transparency 0011). The first disc is called The Family Jams and contains all the music on The Manson Family Sings The Songs Of Charles Manson, while the second disc entitled Family Jams Too features previously unreleased recordings also dating from 1970.



  • Manson documentary directed by Robert Hendrickson and Laurence Merrick (1973)
  • Charles Manson Superstar documentary directed by Nikolas Schreck (Music Video Distribu, DVD Release Date: 2002)
  • The Manson Massacre directed by Kentucky Jones (1972)
  • Helter Skelter directed by Tom Gries (1976; Director's Cut: 2004, Warner Home Video)
  • The Book of Manson directed by Raymond Pettibon (1989)
  • The Manson Family directed by Jim Van Bebber (2003)
  • Manson Family Movies written, directed, produced by John Aes-Nihil (2003)
  • Live Freaky! Die Freaky! directed by John Roecker (2003)


  • Family Guy Manson appears in "Brian does Hollywood" Peter runs into a log cabin where Charles Manson and other friends are sitting in a circle. Peter then says "Guys, I've been invited to a party at Sharon Tate's house. Now, you can come if you promise not to embarrass me."
  • Family Guy Manson appears in jail watching television reruns and quips, "If I haven't seen it, it's new to me."
  • South Park Manson appears in "Merry Christmas, Charlie Manson! " multiple times throughout the episode.
  • Son of the Beach A convict in prison goes by the name of Adolf Manson. They combined Adolf Hitler and Charles Manson's first and last names respectively.

External links

Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.