The infamous life of Charles Manson

Kim Korber

Who is the mysterious man known as Charles Manson that recently appeared on every news network in the country? For people born after the 1960s the answer is blurry and unclear, but for the people alive in the 60s, Charles Manson is a name wrapped in evil. It was during the 60s that Manson became one of the most well-known cult leaders in America and orchestrated the deaths of more than 30 people. But do people know some of the things he did before he become an infamous cult leader? Manson’s recent death now brings all of those details back to life in the shining and grotesque fashion he so loved.

Manson was born on November 12, 1934 to a 16-year-old alcoholic prostitute, Kathleen Maddox. Maddox quickly married William Manson and just as quickly divorced him and tossed Charles into a boy’s home. Since his mother consistently rejected him, Manson grew up on the streets scraping by with petty thievery and spent most of his life surfing in and out of jail for various offences. Understandable forms of behavior for a boy rejected by his mother.

While in prison, Manson become obsessed with hallucinogenic drugs (such as LSD). He also became heavily interested in various groups and teachings surrounding Armageddon (or the “end of times”) as well as dabbling in scientology and other lesser-known religious cults. Oddly enough, he also became infatuated with the Beatles’ white album, particularly the song “Helter Skelter.” Because of that infatuation, Manson learned to play guitar and started to write his own music. Manson was finally released from prison in 1967 and the craziness that lived in his head remained quiet for several years.

During his brief lapse back into sanity, Manson moved to California to become a musician. There he met a handful of prominent musicians like Neil Young and Dennis Wilson. Not surprisingly, Manson was received with mixed emotions. Young said, “He had this kind of music that nobody else was doing” and that “Musically I thought he was very unique. I thought he really had something crazy, something great. He was like a living poet.” However, John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas saw past Manson’s collected demeanor to the crazy that lay beneath. When Phillips was asked to record with the madman he said, “I’d just shudder every time. I’d say, ‘no, I think I’ll pass’”.

Not to be deterred, Manson was introduced to Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. Wilson bought the rights to one of Manson’s songs “Cease to Exist” and turned it into their song “Never Learn not to Love.” To hint at Manson’s deteriorating mental stability, he left a bullet on the Wilson’s pillow in outrage of the “theft” of his song, however, Manson reeled the crazy back in and no further action was taken.

In a strange turn of events, Manson seemed to actually be getting his life together. So where did it all go wrong?

The day that Beach Boys’ producer Tom Melcher declined to work with him.

On that day Manson’s life, and sanity, slowly drained away to leave the crazed, merciless, pathologically deluded man he will always be. Manson started gathering followers to join “The Family” – a group of young Californians devoted to his every word. Numbering around 100 followers, “The Family” loved Manson’s unorthodox lifestyle and consistent use of hallucinogenic drugs like LSD. He taught his followers to despise those that lived in Hollywood (many believe because of what happened with the Beach Boys).

Within “The Family”, there was an inner-circle with a handful of people (mostly women) that committed the heinous murders that Charles Manson became known for, and it wasn’t until August of 1969 that Manson put that clique to work. Even though Manson had no direct contact with the killings, he sent four of his most trusted followers to the property of wealthy Hollywood producer Roman Polanski and instructed them to kill everyone.

When the police arrived the next morning, they recovered five bodies. These murders were just the beginning and continued happening in various parts of Hollywood for several months. It wasn’t until the police arrested some Family members on suspicions of vandalism that one inner-circle member confessed to the murders. She told authorities that, “the Manson Family wanted to commit murders that would shock the world and make people take notice.”

After the confession, the rest is history.

Because of his recent death, all of Charles Manson’s insanity has resurfaced to be rediscovered by millions of young people. Most younger people today only know the Mason name in association with modern metal singer Marilyn Manson (who took his stage name from Charles Manson). For many that didn’t live through the murders and trial of Charles Manson and his Family, the heinous acts they committed go unnoticed. It seems almost fitting that a man with that history should die in prison, never able to see the light of day again. Especially with eerie songs like “Look at Your Game, Girl” with the chilling lyrics, “Think you’re loving baby, but all you’re doing is crying… Are those feelings real?”

Yes, Charles. The feelings of animosity towards you are still alive and will continue to live on for years to come.