Manson - Part One
Greetings. My name is Jerome Alexandre and I’m the guitar player / co-songwriter in a group called Deadcuts. I've been waiting to write about this particular subject for a very, very long time. In some ways this is an attempt on a spiritual purge on a topic that has had me obsessed for years. I doubt I'll fully be able to disconnect from it completely and I'm not sure I can rationally explain why that is. I must add also that I was cautioned not to write about this particular subject by certain individuals, as it still remains a very controversial topic. However, being fairly headstrong, I've run with my gut instinct to tell at best something that has been common knowledge to some, but for the majority of the world it's been guarded and veiled for over several decades now.
You may find that this knowledge (depending on how willing you are to open your mind) either revelatory or you may even believe it to be false. It’s of no consequence. I'm asking you the reader to look at this subjectively. The obsession conjures forth a name that has brought fear and terror to the American public for decades. The name ‘Charles Manson’ carries with it either an interesting debate or an angry misinformed argument and in many cases - a great way of destroying a social evening at the dining table. If you’re ever stuck on a date that you really want to get out of fast - a conversation on Charles Manson can be a great way of terminating that date immediately.
But before I even start I want everyone reading this to know the following - I'm not an advocate of murder nor ever have been - and neither are any of the people I've interviewed for this article. In this piece I'll be looking at the impact Manson has had culturally, the clues that piece together a far more complex case than the brief analysis and assumed knowledge of the crimes would suggest, and in addition interviewing a few of my musician friends who have expressed interest in the case.
Among others, these include Meechy Darko of Flatbush Zombies, Boyd Rice of Non, Nikolas Schreck (Kingdom of Heaven / Radio Werewolf), Wesley Eisold of Cold Cave, my brother and song-writing partner Mark Keds (Deadcuts / Senseless Things) and Saul Adamczewski (Fat White Family / Moonlandingz). I wanted to get their take on the Manson phenomenon as well as exposing the links between Roman Polanski, The LaBiancas, the seedy drug underworld and its connection to the mafia and ultimately how Manson's image continues to be exploited for profit. There will be certain things I will leave out - as this is an article (not a book) - that tie to the murders, and vary in such information that it would impossible to add, analyse and list every detail of those events. Should you want to find all the degrees of separation I would suggest reading the books I've listed beneath this article.
I would like to thank Boyd Rice and Nikolas Schreck for the wealth of knowledge they've have shared with me regarding Manson and without them this piece would be merely a guessing game. I understand Manson May not be a model citizen - he was a car thief, forged a couple of cheques and for a time was a pimp and drug dealer. He is very shrewd when he needs to be and has a firm understanding of all degrees of criminality. It’s ironic that such crimes provide kudos especially if you’re in the entertainment industry nowadays and in many ways echo the seedy underworld that is in alignment within it. Manson is the first to admit to cutting music-teacher/ drug-dealer Gary Hinman’s ear (in which I'll go in to detail later).
However Manson is adamant that he did not send the Family members (Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krewnwinkel, Leslie van Houten and Linda Kasabian) to kill Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Woijechk Frykowski and The LaBiancas on those hot August nights of 1969. So why admit to cutting a drug dealer’s ear off but not to ordering a bunch of murders? Especially when you know that you'll never get out of prison anyway? Let’s have a look at who stood to gain…
Manson's effect on Culture
Today Manson's image is printed by fashion designers - and interviews are but a click away on social media, easily accessible to any curious psychology student, historian or fanboy. The books that have sprung up in his wake are vast, his philosophy and phraseology is continually sampled by a wide variety of groups and his music is now easily purchased and distributed. And as the world’s population grows so does the fascination with Manson.
As a 13-year-old in the 90's attracted to the occult and all things macabre it was very different. If you were into any of these subjects your only source of information were rare books and magazines, and you had to know where to purchase them or where to order them from.
I wanted to know more about this character who'd been deserted as a child by his prostitute mother and had been passed back and forth to various relatives; who the media claimed was referring to himself as the second coming of Christ and Satan, and had spent his entire life in and out of juvenile halls and prison. Why were the media so adamant that he had hypnotised a bunch of hippies on L.S.D. to go and carry out these atrocities? Even as a teenager I'd tried L.S.D. a few times and knew that trying to even tie my shoe-laces whilst tripping on acid was impossible, let alone committing something as calculating and difficult as murder.
Why was Manson referenced by a lot of my favourite underground groups such as Death in June, Boyd Rice, Psychic TV, Rozz Williams, J.G. Thirwell and Current 93? Guns N’ Roses had also copped flack for covering Manson's most well known number, "Look at your Game Girl " - a song that a young Marilyn Manson claimed to have told Axl Rose about, who allegedly then went and stole the idea from him. Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor had also recorded the infamous album "Downward Spiral" at the Tate / Polanski residence. What was the hypnotic attraction of this character?
Since I didn't have the luxury of social media back in the day - as it didn't exist - any information I had to find out by myself - and in a way I'm glad as it made the journey more of a forbidden fruit. So my initial search began in Tower Records that used to be in Piccadilly Circus in London and which featured a wide range of alternative magazines such as Propaganda, Seconds, and The Black Flame. However, I still couldn't find anything on Manson so I went to the video section and found a movie entitled "Charles Manson Superstar".
The film was narrated by Nikolas Schreck who interviewed Manson throughout, along with his wife Zeena - who's father was the late Anton LaVey. Nikolas Schreck still converses with Manson today and co-wrote "The Manson File: Myth of an Outlaw Shaman". Watching "Charles Manson Superstar" lit something within my consciousness. I find it impossible to describe in words. It instantly struck me on a very profound level, and brought to light at the time many facts I wasn't aware of - such as Anton LaVey (who formed the Church of Satan in 1966) had actually employed Manson family member Susan Atkins, the main killer alongside Tex Watson, as a stripper in a topless witches review, long before she'd gone to live on Manson's "Spahn Ranch".
LaVey thought she was an accident waiting to happen. Boyd Rice informs me, "she would do things as stupid and moronic as calling in sick with a 108 temperature". If you had a temperature that high your brains would be scrambled! Maybe they were slightly cooked.
LaVey was perplexed that she could even commit a murder, she was that incompetent". LaVey would go on to place a curse on the psychedelic era on August 8th 1969 - the very same night the Tate murders occurred. In the documentary film "Charles Manson Superstar " there is a scene where Susan Atkins is posing in the ritual chamber where LaVey would throw his curse on the hippy movement.
Another fact I was surprised hadn't been common knowledge was that The Beach Boys were sold a song from Charlie entitled "Cease To Exist" which they covered and called "Never Learn Not To Love You " on their 20/20 album without crediting Manson - and certainly without sending him royalties either.
Dennis Wilson former drummer of the Beach Boys plays a significant role in the fact that he introduced Tex Watson, chief orchestrator of the murders, to Charles Manson. Mike Love of the Beach boys claims that the whole experience never left Dennis Wilson he was eternally racked with guilt.
Tex Watson was a drug dealer and thief, notorious for robbing other crooks such as Bernard "Lotsapoppa" Crowe, and claimed that he was brainwashed by Manson to commit the murders - yet was already working In the criminal underworld long before meeting Manson. He claimed to have been possessed by Manson (a convenient excuse) whilst committing the murders and is now a prison Chaplin.
The common suggestion that Manson was a talentless bum has been thrust into the public eye many times and is absolutely false. Upon meeting Manson, Dennis was so taken in by him that he actually moved Manson and the "Family" in to his mansion in Beverly Hills. Dennis was so elated by Manson's music he nicknamed him "The Wizard" and set about recording Manson in the studio. He and the Beach Boys manager Nick Grillo - along with CBS records - were utterly convinced that Manson’s talent was equal to that of Dylan and were certain he was going to be the next big thing.
Zappa, Three Dog Night and Neil Young were all fans. Dennis worked alongside Terry Melcher son of actress Doris Day who had produced acts such as The Byrds and Paul Revere and The Raiders.
The initial ideas was to bring In strings and horns on the record but in the end a few tracks were cut and the friendship soured - most likely from the fact that Manson wasn't really impressed with the whole music industry. (Just imagine what he'd think now). Whilst residing at Wilson's, the family also wrecked the mansion - including some of the Manson gals giving Wilson gonorrhoea. Which probably didn’t go down to well either…
Manson explains in an interview his disdain for the industry with "I looked at it and thought ‘this is a bigger jail than I already got out of’! I don’t wanna take my time going to work. I've got a motorcycle and a sleeping bag and ten and fifteen girls. What the hell would I want to go off and work? "
Whatever plan was set up it was obvious that Manson struggled to get to grips with the rules set by music industry standards. He would never play the same song the identical way twice always changing it and was known to be "difficult" in the recording booth.
And after falling out with Manson, Dennis became very fearful till his dying day, reportedly waking up at night in bed screaming and becoming increasingly more fearful that Manson might have put a curse on him. He claimed that one day he would write a book explaining what had happened - how bad he felt by basically introducing Gary Hinman, Tex Watson and Sharon Tate to each other at Elvis's former Los Angeles apartment.
Manson speaks of this encounter in another interview conducted by Bill Scanlon Murphy: "I told Dennis - Don't change the words man. Change the words and my shadows are running deep”. Wilson eventually drowned on December 28th 1983 after drinking all day and trying to find items that had fallen from his yacht. He had literally become a shadow of his former self - isolated, secluded, paranoid and more than often drunk.
Wes Eisold: "My first vision of Manson were the iconic photos I saw as a kid. The Time magazine cover kind of always reappears and around 1990. It became a popular shirt. I first was exposed to his music via The Lemonheads who covered a couple of the songs. Manson's music became reoccurring through the years while getting into other genres and labels like ESP and Come Org. I loved Integrity in high school (and still do) and they would sample and play with the imagery as well. Certainly Boyd and the ReSearch era too. There's that story from Phil Kaufman about being locked up with Manson where the guard teases him saying something like “You're never going to get out of here” to which Manson replies calmly while strumming a guitar, “Get out of where?” A few years ago I ran into Kaufman in Joshua Tree and I said to him, “I know who you are” to which he replied, “Who am I?"”
Meechy Darko (Flatbush Zombies) says, "Manson first caught my attention at a very young age. I might have been 9 or 10. I saw this show on the most notorious serial killers in American History Typical line up...Ed Gein, Son of Sam, Ted Bundy...but the Charles Manson situation intrigued me a lot more, due to the fact that he never actually killed anyone himself."
Nikolas Schreck: It would have been in 1970. A friend of mine bought "Lie" which was really a demo more than an album and he loathed it. The media had made out that Manson was really influenced by the Beatles which we know now to be false. But I loved it. I remember in 1967 watching "Fearless Vampire Killers", directed by Roman Polanski featuring Sharon Tate and Ian Quarrier and feeling there was something unpleasant or destructive. Later on in the seventies I'd meet Timothy Leary who'd come out of Folsom prison and had met Manson in there. He told me there's a hell of a lot more to the Manson case then people know and that planted the seed.
Mark Keds: All I'd learnt about Manson was from the media. They called him a "serial killer" but from my understanding he hadn't actually killed anyone, so I was surprised to hear that this guy was in prison for allegedly hypnotising people. I mean that'd stand up in the witch trials in the dark ages, but in the twentieth century? So that's when I began to dig deeper into the phenomenon.
Boyd Rice: I first learned about Manson at the time of his arrest, like everyone else at the time. The early news reportage said he was the leader of a cult who believed he was Christ, but also thought he was an incarnation of the Devil. And that’s what caught my attention initially. I was intrigued by the notion of a union between God and the Devil, and I wanted to know more. So when Bugliosis’ “Helter Skelter” came out I read it. I was pretty young and had never read a book of several hundred pages, but I ploughed right through it.
Saul Adamczewski: I can’t remember the first time I became aware of Charles Manson... maybe through song lyrics of other artists - Eminem or something. I feel like I've always known who he was in some way. It wasn't until about 5 or 6 years ago that I really got into his music."
Cass Browne: “I think if you came from any form of dysfunctional – possible outlaw – background - abandonment, instability, rejection, etc… I think it was very easy to have an empathy with a character who just went – “No - fuck that authority, fuck that system, I don’t trust the government, I don’t trust these people, I don’t dig your values. I want to live outside of that. And if you really want to reject me – watch this”. I think that’s why people are still attracted to him. I think that still resonates today. Despite everything that’s passed, maybe even because of that – there’s inkling that his stance was right and true - and his rejection of a society and social network that rejected him was valid and powerful. The governments and patriarchy are a bunch of self-serving duplicitous arseholes. That much is clear. And there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of beauty in their souls.
I also think he became the personification of the death of the naivety of The Age of Aquarius. You also add in the death of the hippie ideal, the tail end of the sixties, occult magic, Altamont … drugs, ‘acid enlightenment’, a coven of cute hippie girls - which is always a sweetener - notoriety, assumed Satanic leanings… and some the dark side of Hollywood celebrity glamour. That’s a very powerful potion. ‘Helter Skelter’. Do I think he personally killed anyone? No. Do I think he wound up a moment that resulted in murder? Yeah, very possibly he was a link in that chain. But no – I don’t think he was the true culprit. I think it was so shocking though, that someone had to pay. You can’t kill celebrities, especially pretty ones, without someone being hung out to dry. Especially if you’re short. Which Charlie was. And remains to be.”
Boyd Rice / Media lie / Prison gnosis
Boyd Rice was one of the first artist to be signed to the legendary Mute Records (home to groups such as New Order, Depeche Mode and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) and although most people describe his music as "Industrial" or "Spoken Word" I find none of these do justice when as he has a genre all of his own which - like the best music - defies category.
Boyd Rice is considered a controversial character but only by those who misunderstand him or who have no knowledge of arcane symbology. Boyd cites three inspirations on his life - Tiny Tim, Anton LaVey and Charlie Manson. According to Rice these three characters had much in common, and his interest in Manson also peaked at the ripe age of 13.
Boyd Rice: "Somebody once defined a mystic as someone who experiences more of life than can be expressed by mere words. And Manson was a total mystic." Instead of being merely content to sample or cover a song Boyd actually went to visit Manson regularly in San Quentin prison in the 1980s. His original idea was to get some of Manson's works released after Black Flag reneged on a deal and after corresponding with Manson through the mail he finally got an invite to visit.
In Rice's book, “Standing in Two Circles", he describes having to go through several security checkpoints, searched vigorously and asked several times for identification -until finally he was sat face to face with the man himself. Boyd recollects, "At first glance Manson seemed diminutive and altogether unimpressed - but then he started talking and all of that instantly changed”. "First off" Manson said, "Let's get one thing straight. There's only one person here - one thought one mind". He held up one finger to emphasise the point. I thought to myself "This is perfect. I've only met Manson a few seconds ago and he's already giving me his I-am-you-and-you are me rap".
Boyd goes onto speak on Manson's jailhouse protocol and survival strategies. Manson had a wide range of understanding of everything from Ancient to Current History, how he who yells the loudest in prison has "The Final Word", and also his understanding of spiritual duality - "I believe in the spirit of Christ and the spirit of Satan. It’s all one and it has different faces at different times. That’s Abraxas". He also experienced perhaps one of the best kept secrets - Manson's humour. On one occasion Boyd saw Manson make the prison guards laugh so much that they were literally doubled over and if Manson ever wanted to truly escape from prison he could literally joke his way to the front gate.
However Boyd's also got to see another side to Manson, that occasionally he'd preach one thought form whilst conducting an entirely different code of conduct -and that often he’d reveal himself to be a flawed character, with one foot in the realm of fantasy and the other in reality - both often simultaneously overlapping. Regardless of this though he was always entertaining.
Manson has also been labelled a "racist", most likely because of Vincent Bugliosi, the district attorney who prosecuted Manson, had claimed that Manson wanted to start a race war. Manson's thoughts on race are perhaps not as clearly understood as it would seem. In another interview Manson turns to an English cameraman during the William Scanlon Murphy interview and scolds him - "How long has there been a race war, English? Since you came out of caves and didn't like Irishman?"
In another rare taped interview he goes on to speak about how he feels black people have been wronged by whites. "Why couldn't African people been left to be gods -You took ‘em out of the jungle and beat ‘em and tried to make ‘em just like you -because you knew they were in touch with a deeper awareness and whitey envied it". When asked about the Swastika tattoo on his head he replies, "It's an ancient symbol for good luck. In prison you need a lot of luck in here. The Swastika spins like the universe in motion - most Astronomers know that"
Nikolas Schreck informs me that Manson told him he wore it on his forehead out of respect to an American Indian prisoner he once knew, and the swastika can be found in many ancient Indian landmarks. Swasti means, "Well-being of one" and ka means “Symbol”, and predates the Nazis by aeons. The Swastika originally stood for peace, good fortune, fire and the revolving sun.
Manson’s stay in Vacaville mental facility has taken its toll. If you hear any of the interviews prior to his stay in Vacaville (there are perhaps five in total) he comes across as more alert and sharp, and in his latter interviews he appears to have been drugged, as there are reports that many were interrogated by the CIA within the prison. After being transported to San Quentin and then onto Corcoran prison his thoughts are more skewed and his sentences are more metaphorical.
The Media often displaying the juiciest, bloodthirsty parts of a sensational story to placate their savage audiences. On YouTube there’s an uncut version of the interview Diane Sawyer conducted with Manson. At the end of the interview Manson says "You are your faith - lose it and you’re not. Is that right or wrong". Diane turns and says "It’s true" and the lights go up. She then starts to joke with Manson assuming the cameras are off and they begin to talk about both being from Kentucky. Diane Sawyer poses for a picture with him. "Let me look serious ", he says - then starts to laugh as everyone on the crew poses for a pic with America’s most feared mass murderer. "Everybody wants a picture of you ". Diane laughs and Manson replies, "Yeah, everybody likes that evil guy you created - you know that guy with the eyes" whilst smiling. "Y’know - those characters don't really exist". As he turns to leave, one of the prison guards says - "Charlie you were real nice. Thank you ".
When the actual interview came out it was just as damning as every other generic dumbed down TV special. They used the most aggressive and fear-mongering pieces. It almost seems as if they were interrogating Manson, giving the audience a minute or two to deflect their own deep-seated issues and thrust them upon America’s top scapegoat.
"It was exactly the reason why I stopped giving interviews on this case" says Nikolas Schreck - "Because whoever I gave the interview for would make me out to be some sort of advocate of murder. Perhaps one of the reasons I know Manson so well is because I don't agree with everything he says. I never was trying to be a Manson follower. My interests in the case initially were on a spiritual level. Then as time went on I kept finding out more and more. I think if I were to make "Charles Manson Superstar" now it'd be a completely different movie altogether. I’ve learnt so much more with time."
The Truth behind the Murders
My initial suspicions that there was more to the case came from the media’s sensational "hippie-cult-leader-hypnotises-kids-to-commit-murder" line. William Garretson, the caretaker of 3301 Cielo drive, was the first suspect in the murders and was later released.
As I mentioned earlier that, although not impossible, it'd be extremely hard to drive a car to commit a murder - yet alone murder on L.S.D.. What I've surmised over the years of delving into the case is take a look at the actual people who committed the murders and more importantly who was present.
Lets start with "Tex Watson". Tex Watson was a drug dealer and a part of what was dubbed "The Manson Family " - but in truth he was more on the outer fringes of the group. He dealt to Hollywood stars and was incredibly high on speed the night of the murders. He owed Danny de Carlo (formerly of biker gang “The Straight Satans”) money, and on August 8th 1969 went to rob the Tate / Polanski residence of drugs that had been delivered by Joe Rosthal - along with Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkle Linda Kasabian.
According to Bill Scanlon Murphy, who was actually threatened to keep quiet after interviewing Manson in ’93, those very drugs were later sold on by Manson family member Bruce Davis. This was not uncommon. Tex Watson had robbed many dealers in the past, so after shooting Steven Parent outside the Tate residence he entered the house and was confronted by Jay Sebring – at which point and all hell broke loose. According to Nikolas Schreck and another anonymous source, Sebring was a drug dealer / hairdresser to people such as Marilyn Monroe, Kennedy, Jim Morrison, Peter Lawford and laughably, the bald actor Yule Brenner – a man with no hair to dress.
Sebring was mentored by Frank Sinatra and was introduced to the Mob. The murders were nothing to do with what came to be known as "Helter Skelter". All the victims knew Manson long before the massacre occurred, but the thin line between the corrupt law enforcement, the Hollywood world and the mafia is something that needs to be brought to light to fully understand what happened.
Polanski, Tate, The LaBiancas, Gary Hinman, Hollywood and the drug underworld / Mafia syndicate"
Marijuana, cocaine and mescaline were consumed in multiple quantities at the Polanski / Tate residence. Even after the murders, Marijuana was found by police officers at the scene of the crime. It is reported that orgies were filmed for Roman Polanski (director and former husband of Sharon Tate) and viewed at their home. It’s also alleged that Tate knew about Robert Kennedy's assassination and that Tex Watson had been offered money to assassinate her.
Ferdinand Mayne was an actor who played the role of a vampire count in the Polanski movie "Dance of the Vampires ", (aka "Fearless Vampire Killers ") - alongside Sharon Tate, who plays the Count’s victim. Nikolas Schreck and his wife Zeena met Ferdinand Mayne for a meal at The Magic Castle in Hollywood. Mayne didn't know of Nikolas's documentary or interest in the case, but did tell Nikolas that Polanksi had hired him because he was unwell at the time and looked gaunt, pale and vampiric. Perfect.
However when it came to the day of filming Ferdinand returned to the set fresh from a vacation with his wife and had acquired a tan and a few pounds. Polanski then informed him that he looked too healthy and that by taking him to the London club scene he'd soon be looking pale and sickly again. This is also where he'd meet the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Sharon Tate for the first time.
Ferdinand Mayne claimed that deep down he sensed that something wasn't right and - upon witnessing the criminal underworld, the massive drug consumption and feral predator energy around Sharon Tate - was not surprised what came later.
The first acid trip Tate was to take was supplied by Ian Quarrier who also starred in "Fearless Vampire Killers" as a camp thin blonde vampire. Quarrier would also supply Polanski with drugs and girls and eventually became friends with Tex Watson, Charles Manson and Sharon Tate. He was to quit acting shortly after the murders in 1969.
Suggested reading : Nikolas Schreck " The Manson File - Myth of an Outlaw Shaman"
Boyd Rice chapter " Ill Call you Abraxas" from the book " Standing in two circles"
"Charles Manson Now" by Marlin Marynick
Keep an eye out for PART TWO, coming shortly ...