written by Tom LaSala // 02.22.16
In society, the media and the controllers of political power can create or mold whatever belief they want you to hold. It can be arranged and crafted in a way almost indistinguishable from reality, mixed with truths and half truths parading your mind with an over abundance of information and enough head fucks to make you question everything along the way. One of the biggest cases of said experience in American history is that of the infamous Charles Manson. You would be pretty hard pressed to not find someone in the world who does not know who this man is, if you look up the word fear in the dictionary I’m sure Webster’s has his picture captioned next to it. Why? well that is a long story and not one I feel like typing out. You can check out several YouTube interviews of Manson with arrogant, agenda-based, script reading TV personalities throughout the 80s/90s and come to a basis yourself of how information was presented to you in a manner to hate someone because the propaganda machine told you to, engraving pieces into your brain so hard with a motive still not entirely known. For the most honest look at Manson, check out Nikolas Schreck’s various books and incredible 1989 documentary, Charles Manson Superstar. Read various books on him, his life, the famous Sharon Taton/LaBianca murder case and revisit all footage, court proceedings, evidence, and the world climate in the late 60’s/early 70’s. While I won’t get into Manson’s early life or events that lead up to the murder case of the century in this part of the series, I will outline his influence for years to come through the music industry.
While that image of his piercing eyes and holding the poster boy title of hate & murder are what the superficial know him for, Charlie was actually an aspiring and talented musician. Influential artists Neil Young and John Lennon have spoke highly of him, Lennon specifically saying ‘I think a lot of the things he says are true’ and Dennis Wilson sparked a very close friendship with Manson. Charlie went on to even write a song for The Beach Boys and get possession of Wilson’s house (long story). Young was also influenced by Manson’s art of ‘song spewing’ as he put it, one time giving Charlie a motorcycle as a gift for inspiring him to finish an arrangement. Aside from them California sunshine boys, other acts from both the mainstream and underground have covered Manson’s catalog of original music. Most famous are probably Guns ‘N’ Roses, who included their take of Manson’s ‘Look At Your Game Girl’ on their 1992 cover album ‘The Spaghetti Incident’ which has sold 5.5 Million copies worldwide. This caused major controversy with Geffen records and the band was slapped with lawsuit after lawsuit from families of the Tate/LaBianca murders, most notably Sharon Tate’s.
Oh and you guessed it… Brian Warner aka Marilyn Manson has also skimmed through Manson’s catalog for a bite.
‘Sick City’ and ‘My Monkey’ have been covered or various elements sampled to form a song. Charles Manson has even written Marilyn Manson himself, a jail-house letter stating his dislike for him. The groups former record label, Nothing Records once owned and curated by legendary industrial-rock king, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails also had a fantasy with the Manson murders lore. So much so, that Reznor bought the actual Cielo Drive home where the Tate murders took place and constructed a recording facility in the exact spot of the living room where Tate was gutted. While looking at houses Reznor stated he had “no clue it was ‘that’ home” and said he “did not know to much about these murders or remember them” to Tate’s own sister when confronted by her in an L.A. food store. HA! Good one Trent, if you didn’t name your studio Le Pig, have various Pig references throughout your darkest record (The Downward Spiral) recorded there (Pig was written in blood on the front door) and Nothing Records first major act, Marilyn Manson record a Charles Manson inspired tune (My Monkey) in the joint maybe we would believe you. Reznor even had the house demolished when he moved, going as for to take that infamous blood-scribbled front door with him to his new residence in New Orleans, having it installed at the main entrance…’Hey Pig, yeah you’! I continue to believe you. If we needed any other proof Mr. Reznor is full of shit, check this…
This super-rare walk-thru video of 10050 Cielo Drive pops up and down from Youtube every other year and is shot by someone in Nine Inch Nails or friend of the band. When the person gets to the main control room (3:55) of the studio he says ‘It sure looks bigger in all the photos”. Interesting to say the least.
While influential to the mainstream, Charles Manson has also been a major figure in underground music since the moment the trial began. Sound-pioneers of the innovative industrial group, Throbbing Gristle were pushing a lot of Manson imagery out into the fold of the early 70’s. “He actually made some very astute criticisms of the corruption going on in American media and politics that were just being ignored. It was a very relevant critique, the reasons that American culture was losing its creativity and inspiration and becoming more paranoid and fear driven. Kind of ironic that something that created fear exposed a fear-driven society” says Genesis P. Orridge founder of Throbbing Gristle/Psychic TV. Like many others, Genesis still holds the belief that Manson never received a chance in the Ameircan judicial system “Also there’s no question in my mind that he didn’t get a fair trial.” Our notably corrupt president, Richard Nixon who held office at the time was on the front-page of every national news paper stating Manson was already guilty months before the trial. Judge turned celebrity writer, Vincent Bugliosi also with an agenda became a small-time millionaire on his fabricated books from the trial. NYC’s experimental alt-rock gods, Sonic Youth were also influenced by this darker side of American culture on their album ‘Bad Moon Rising’ which includes the Manson Family inspired cut ‘Death Valley 69’. Manson’s image would later become a popular one amongst the punk, metal and hardcore communities. The famous LIFE magazine cover of Manson staring through your soul on flyers and tee’s decade after decade.
90’s poster artist, Frank Kozik used Manson as a go-to image for countless acts on the fringe noise-rock label, Amphetamine Reptile Records and a slew of other groups picked up in the grunge movement. Phil Anselmo of Pantera and Axl Rose of G ‘n’ R could easily be caught in the ‘Charlie Don’t Surf’ tee both on stage and in promotional video’s of the mid-90s. Modern metal bands Integrity, EYEHATEGOD, Car Bomb, Unearthly Trance, A Life Once Lost, Dragged Into Sunlight and The Acacia Strain also often throw Manson’s imagery on their bands merchandise, cover songs, or sample his voice. Shock metal & horror culture phenom, Rob Zombie is not shy of his love for all things Manson, “For me, anything having to do with what happened with Charles Manson is really compelling. Every book, every film, any article I can get my hands on having to do with that crime, I grab it. Any new picture, I can’t resist. There are just so many layers to it and it’s such a strange story and there are so many factors involved. It just never stops being fascinating to me.” he told Loudwire magazine back in 2013. Rob has also stated the film ‘The Devil’s Rejects’ has several elements that were very influenced by Manson & Co. Author, Bret Easton Ellis and Zombie once publicly announced they had plans of a TV series based on the murders, but as of today this still has never seen the light.
California seems to be the Manson hot bed. His energy and what he has provoked there continues to run through the lands. In September 2001, the week of 9/11 Los Angeles group, System Of A Down released ‘Toxicity’ and was very critical of American culture, our modern ways of life and the political nature of our military-industrial complex. ‘ATWA’ or Air, Trees, Water and Animals (popular Manson slogan and environmental group he founded) was a song title on this disc from the avant-nu metal outfit. Guitarist, Daron Malakian going as far to say ‘There are a hell of a lot of things I say in interviews that are quoted from him and people end up agreeing with me’ to MTV in the video below. MTV cuts the scene every time he begins to say more than a sentence and it makes you wonder what else was said. Daron seems well spoken and knowledgeable of Manson’s life and case.
In 2010, a Sacramento based industrial-hip hop group broke onto the music scene led by prolific percussionist, Zach Hill. Death Grips instilled a fear in the rather safe celebrity driven music world, unloading their frantic frontman MC Ride in the passenger side of a vechile in a lo-fi viral video, ‘Guillotine’. Around the same time, ‘Beware’ was also released accompanied by a pretty prominent Manson sample to start the song. In the sample, Manson speaks about his own personal dealings with society (the game) and the music industry… in which he mostly calls out the ‘pop world’ and how major labels work ending with ‘The game is mine, I deal the cards’. Oddly, this whole passage seems to foreshadow a similar tone of how Death Grips themselves would give the finger to their future label, Epic records run by L.A. Reid (delivering an album to the world themselves after a battle with the label feat. drummer Zach Hill’s erect penis uncensored on the cover). In this video, Stefan Burnett (MC Ride) can be seen running through California Desert of Death Valley that the Manson Family called their home. Years later in their silent film/music video for ‘Come Up And Get Me’ a shot of frontman MC Ride would appear hiding under a kitchen sink, pictured in the exact same way Manson was moments before his apprehension by authorities in the Death Valley desert… Hiding under an old-school kitchen sink with a curtain covering the under carriage. Lyrical content and tattooed imagery of Abaraxas, the gnostic solar deity, also come from Ride. The worship and mythos of the creature long spoken of by Manson. This could however just be coincidence, or not. Until we continue Part 2 of this series next time, ‘Beware’.
LOOK OUT FOR THE SECOND PART OF
CHARLES MANSON’S LONG HISTORY IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY