Charles Manson always famously declared that he was immortal, once proclaiming “When I die, I don’t die, the world dies. I have always lived and I will always live.” Well, guess what, Manson? You died, bro! And we’re still alive! Hahaha!
There are two ways to take the death of Charles Manson. The first, is to celebrate that this maniac who was responsible for many other victims’ last breath, had finally taken his last breath. Make no mistake, Charlie was a very naughty man with a warped god complex, yet so certain of his own messianic status that he managed to convince others of his immoral ideas, and then people got killed. Which is why some say his recent death at age 83 is what he deserved (even if 83 is a pretty decent lifespan).
For others, Manson’s passing came with a curious stir of mixed feelings. It was the understanding that this iconic fixture of pop culture, who wrote the textbook on cult leadership and cut the hippie era short with his own bare hands, was no longer part of this world. Personally, I will miss the days when that funny old man with a stupid tattoo on his forehead would make the headlines as he waddled to apply for parole, only to be rejected once again and sent back into his cave. You just knew that during those times, he was still cursing society, adamant that he would eventually break free and murder us all, mumbling these hateful remarks in between Beatles’ lyrics and changing his diaper.
But whatever your opinion, let’s look back on some of the lesser known facts about the one, the only, Charles Manson.
15. Charles Manson Didn’t Kill Anyone
Perhaps the strangest fact about arguably the most infamous serial killer in recent history, is that Manson did not actually murder a single person (as far as we know). I guess when you have a loving family who will do whatever you tell them to, why do anything at all? Essentially, he was the laziest serial killer who ever existed.
Under his command, however, plenty of people did die, including Roman Polanski’s acclaimed actress wife, Sharon Tate, and the eight-and-a-half month old foetus in her womb. That said (and although accounts vary) there has never been much evidence to place Manson at any murder scene, and his followers used this as leverage to furiously declare his innocence. Of course, this would be like saying Hitler didn’t kill millions of Jews during World War II, he simply instructed other people to do it, so we should just forget about the whole thing, right? Fortunately, it doesn’t work that way, and Charles was found guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of seven people.
14. Charles Manson’s Mom Sold Him for Beer
How to raise a serial killer 101: Alcoholic Kathleen Manson-Bower-Cavender and an unknown father gave birth to “no name Maddox” (his official first name) in 1934. After eventually renaming him to Charles, his mom decided she didn’t really care for the infant all that much, and sold him to a waitress for a pitcher of beer. As sad as this may sound, what may be even sadder is that Charles’ uncle was enraged when he heard the news, promptly seeking out the waitress and taking Charlie back home to his neglective mother. Perhaps that waitress could have given Mr. Manson the loving arms he needed, but we will never know.
A few years later, Manson’s mom was caught robbing a gas station with a ketchup bottle, and went to jail for five years, whilst little Charlie was sent to live with his aunt and uncle. According to the man himself, when his mother was eventually paroled, she uncharacteristically embraced the boy with a big hug, which he described as “his sole happy childhood memory”.
13. Charles Manson’s Crimes Were Kinda The Beatles’ Fault
When Manson first heard The Beatles’ White Album, he believed that the band were talking directly to him, and discovered some eerie correlations between this record and The Bible’s Book of Revelation. The specific passage he always spoke about was from Revelation 9, referencing Lennon’s avant-garde sound-collage. This text reads:
“…four angels [The Beatles] would appear with hair like a woman’s [which the group were famous for], breastplates of fire [electric guitars] issuing brimstone from their mouths [lyrics], accompanied by locusts [beetles] to usher in the end of the world…”
Owed to the White Album title and the recent assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr, Manson prophesized that the world was about to go spiraling into a violent race war. He tried to tell The Beatles that he understood their message via an endless stream of telegrams, but ultimately decided that the best approach was to initiate the war himself. And so, with full intention of pinning the blame on The Black Panthers, he sent his Family troops to commit the crimes we know today. So, in some ways, we can blame The Beatles for this madness, as many explicit references to White Album songs were scrawled upon the victims’ walls using their blood, such as “pig” (as in, Harrison’s Piggies) and “Healter Skelter” (a misspelling of the McCartney arrangement). In response, Lennon called Manson “barmy”. Yeahhhh, maybe hey.
12. Charles Manson was a Decent Folk Musician
During an unrelated stint in prison, Manson learned how to play guitar, and wrote multiple twisted hippie folk songs, many of which ended up on his debut record titled Lie: The Love and Terror Cult.
This album had been fully recorded by Phil Kaufman (known for his work with The Rolling Stones and Frank Zappa) before any of the murder business took over the Manson brand. It was only when Charles’ name became big news during the Tate-LaBianca homicide trial, that Kaufman received daily phone calls from the psychopath begging him to “please put out my music” in order to help fund his defense. Naturally, no major record label would touch it, so Kaufman raised the money and pressed 2,000 copies himself. As a result, it didn’t exactly top the charts, but quite fittingly, has since developed a cult following, with many big names (such as GG Allin, Rob Zombie, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Marilyn Manson, and Devendra Banhart) covering and sampling these songs. You know, because it’s shocking and edgy oooh.
11. Charles Manson was Close Friends with the Beach Boys
Well, one Beach Boy at least. Drummer Dennis Wilson, to be exact. Wilson was reportedly so impressed when he met this pre-murder messianic Manson figure with young girls hanging onto his every lunatic drivel, that he happily invited the entire cult Family to visit his mansion in Sunset Boulevard. They didn’t leave for months, costing Dennis around $100,000 in clothing and food, as well as providing The Family with a never-ending supply of penicillin shots to combat the gonorrhoea they kept swapping around.
However, Wilson was also interested in Charles on a musicianship level, and eventually took Manson’s song Cease to Exist to show his fellow Beach Boys. The band liked it enough to rework it into their own song, Never Learn Not to Love, and put it on their album 20/20 without ever giving Manson any credit. This infuriated Charles, who retaliated by threatening to kill Dennis and his kids. Wilson responded by beating Charlie to a pulp until he cried, and The Family were evicted not long afterwards.
10. Charles Manson was Almost Owed Royalty Money from Guns N’ Roses
Arguably the most acclaimed song written by Charles Manson was his debut’s opening track, Look at Your Game, Girl. One famous musician who took particular fancy to it, was Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose, and despite protests from his bandmates, insisted they record their own version for the 1993 covers album “The Spaghetti Incident?”.
In Rose’s defense, their cover was never officially listed on the album, appearing as a hidden track at the end, but that didn’t stop the absolute outrage which followed, even their record label head David Geffen stating “The fact that Charles Manson would be earning money based on the fame he derived committing one of the most horrific crimes of the 20th Century is unthinkable to me”. The band began to peddle backwards as fast as they could, intending to remove the song from all future pressings, but decided to keep it once they learned that no royalties would ever even touch Charlie’s bloodied fingers. Instead, these profits went straight to Bartek Frykowski (the son of Family murder victim Wojciech Frykowski) and that seemed to calm everyone down. Am I allowed to say that I really like the song myself? No?
9. Charles Manson Got Engaged at Aged 80… to a 26 Year Old… Who Wanted His Corpse?
In 2014, it was announced that Charlie Manson had finally found true love, in the eyes of 26-year-old Afton Elaine “Star” Burton. Burton captured Manson’s heart by running various websites which defended his innocence, and she had been visiting the man in prison for around nine years before he gave her the ring. When this young lady was asked what she saw in the convicted murderous lunatic, she giggled and gushed that she thought that “he’s the most handsome man in the world!”
The marriage license eventually expired without any wedding, and while there are conflicting speculations as to the reasons why, some say it might have been because of the public reports which stated that Burton only wanted to marry Manson for his eventual corpse. Apparently Burton intended to use the dead body as a lucrative tourist attraction, and when the heartbroken Charles found out, he understandably called it off. I imagine he wanted to murder her too, but couldn’t do anything about it because he was obviously in jail for those very reasons. Anyway, if this rumor is true, then Burton must be sadder than anyone on this day. She was so close!
8. Charles Manson Spent Over 72% of His Life Behind Bars
It may come as no surprise to you, but Manson’s 1971 murder imprisonment wasn’t exactly his first run-in with the law. When he was just 13 years old, he was convicted for an armed robbery of a grocery store, and sent to a juvenile detention center, in 1948. He escaped, committing armed robbery again twice, before they caught him and sent him to another stricter juvenile prison. He served three years in there, escaping only around eighteen times. The last of these escapes was in 1951, where he succeeded in stealing a car, driving west, finally captured after around 20 gas station robberies. He was shoved into another minimum security institution, but was later transferred to a more secure prison after holding a razor to a boy’s throat whilst sodomizing him.
After that, Manson surprisingly kept his head down and worked hard until he earned parole in 1954. One year later, he was sentenced to five years probation for stealing two cars. The year following that, he was sentenced three years imprisonment for violating that very probation. He was released in 1958, forged a check in 1959, got given a ten-year suspended sentence, and was forced to serve that sentence in 1960 after being caught for prostituting a woman. He was not even 20 years old by this point.
7. Charles Manson was Officially Sentenced to Death
In 1969, Manson Family member Susan Atkins was arrested under suspicion of the murder of Gary Hinman, which was fair, because she did watch him die. Whilst incarcerated, the happy-go-lucky Atkins told anyone who would listen that she and her friends had murdered Sharon Tate, boasting that she’d “stabbed Tate and tasted her blood”. It didn’t take long before this careless broadcasting reached the proper authorities, and soon afterwards, Charles and five of his disciples were arrested, promplty put on trial.
Family members threatened witnesses and tried blocking the entrance of the courthouse, but when tattletale Linda Kasabian traded full disclosure for immunity, everyone else was found guilty of murder, and swiftly sentenced to death in 1971. However, for some unfathomable reason, the angels took pity on these homicidal threats to society, and before they got their heads chop off, The California Supreme Court declared that the death penalty itself was no longer constitutional, in 1972. Manson and his family were saved, and instead, sentenced to rot in prison until they died anyway. Which, for Susan Atkins, came in 2009, and for Charles Manson, just the other day. Two down, three to go!
6. Charles Manson Received More Fan Mail Than Any Other Inmate Ever
Do you know where your children are? Maybe they were one of the 60,000 people who wrote letters of adoration to Manson on a yearly basis. Yes, it’s true, this figure makes Charlie the most written to prisoner in all of US history. Which does cause one to wonder: why, after 45 years, was the man who orchestrated the mass murders of innocent people and single-handedly ended the love and peace era, still adored as some sort an iconic prophetic figure?
Surely it’s not because Tuesday’s Child newspaper called him the “Man of the Year” in 1970? Or because of John Moran’s 1990 opera The Manson Family? Or because renowned shock-rocker Marilyn Manson derived his name from the killer? Or because South Park’s 29th episode featured this cult leader as a main character? Or because Quentin Tarantino is reportedly making a film about The Family murders right now? Or because of articles like this one? No, there’s got to be some other reason why he’s continuously regarded as the most popular murder convict of all time. I just can’t work it out.
5. Charles Manson’s Murder Scene Became a Nine Inch Nails Studio
10050 Cielo Drive was known as a beautiful property north of Beverly Hills, California, owned by a man named Rudolph Altobelli and rented out to the Sharon Tate/Roman Polanski couple. Of course, after the brutal murders of five people took place within those walls, nobody really wanted it anymore, and Altobelli moved in himself, where he stayed for 20 years. He eventually did sell the property for $1.6 million in 1989, and in 1994, it was demolished to extinguish any lingering hauntings and deter those creepy fanatics who were intoxicated by the folklore.
However, just before these renovations took place, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame bought the house, and set up a studio which he called Le Pig, tastelessly referring to what Family member Susan Atkins had written on the wall in Tate’s blood. There, he recorded 1994’s The Downward Spiral, often considered his greatest work, and then left shortly afterwards, stating “there was too much history in that house for me to handle.” In fact, as it turns out, there was only one man who could handle this history. Jeff Franklin. The creator of the television series Full House. He lives there now.
4. Charles Manson Had a Celebrity Hit List
Manson was an ambitious killer, and while Sharon Tate was definitely a recognizable figure at the time of her unfortunate death, the man reportedly had his eyes set on even bigger targets. According to follower and Family member, Susan Atkins, there was a “Death List” floating about their little team, which included such A-grade names as Tom Jones, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and Frank Sinatra. But more than anyone, Charlie wanted to kill Steve McQueen.
When the trials became front page news and this “Death List” went public, McQueen naturally feared for his life, carrying a gun with him at all times, even when he attended the funeral of Manson murder victim Jay Sebring. And he was not alone. Even though Charlie was safely locked away in custody, the whole of Hollywood went into full panic mode, both McQueen and Mia Farrow refusing to attend Tate’s funeral as they were terrified this would be an open target location, whilst Jerry Lewis installed a high tech alarm system in his home, despite the fact that nobody had even mentioned his name.
3. Charles Manson Had Some Peculiar House Rules
Every cult leader has their little quirks, it comes with the territory, and Charles Manson was no exception. When The Family lived on the Spahn Ranch, a multitude of items were banned, such as books, watches, clocks, and calendars. He also prohibited the use of eye glasses, because he wanted his followers to “see the world around them” in a more natural sense. You mean, as in a confusing blur of indistinct shapes and hazy colors? Far out, man.
These may seem bizarre, but are harmless enough if you think about. However, Charlie’s true inner devil was of a more sexually corrupt essence. He would specifically target attractive young girls with father issues, lure them into his community, and then force sex upon them, manipulating their misfortunate circumstances until he became the masculine figure they had craved their entire lives. Once under his spell, he could command them to do anything he liked, including killing people, as well as performing intercourse with a nearly blind, 80-year-old man named George Spahn, who owned the ranch they lived at. It’s an immoral, nauseating scene to imagine, but old George was happy enough, and let them stay at his place rent-free.
2. Charles Manson Once Considered Himself a Scientologist
While The Church of Scientology are always quick to repeat their statement that Charles Manson was never a member of their “fine establishment”, there was a period back in the early 60s when the murderer would reportedly “speak of nothing else”, and proudly proclaim himself as a Scientologist whenever asked. He was introduced to the belief by a cellmate named Lanier Rayner, who was what they call a “Level 1 Auditor”. According to the Church, auditing is the process which “lifts the burdened individual from a level of spiritual distress, to a level of insight and inner self-realization.” And that’s what Rayner tried to do for Manson. For over 150 hours.
What happened next is unclear. Many Scientology critics believe that this was the exact turning point where Manson became a bloodthirsty animal, his brain fried by the scheming hands of L. Ron Hubbard. Others claim that the process sent Charles into such a mad fit of screaming that he was placed in solitary confinement. There are also theories that Manson took convenient bits of Scientology to mix with Bible teachings, the Beatles, Nietzsche, and his own misshapen imagination to develop his Family preachings. And finally, we have plenty of unsourced websites quoting that Manson said Scientology was “too crazy,” even for him.
1. Charles Manson’s Infamous Swastika Tattoo Was Originally An ‘X’ Cut
Surprisingly, throughout all his stints in juvenile jail and his fruitful career as a cult leader, Charles Manson always had a nice clean forehead. It was only during the Tate-LaBianca murder trials that he begun to cut an “X” into his skull, working as a proclamation that he had officially removed himself from society. Naturally, his eager Family were quick to follow, as the female defendants turned up to their court cases with broad smiles and freshly cut crosses into their foreheads too. Pretty soon, supporters around the world were adapting the practice, making this loud statement without having to speak a word, probably because they didn’t actually have anything to say and were only hoping to look cool in front of their friends.
Some time later, Manson turned this “X” symbol into a permanent swastika, stating “the mark on my head simulates the dead head black stamp of rejection, anti-church, falling cross, devil sign, death, terror, fear,” which sounds like crazyman talk to me, Charlie. No wonder you never made parole. Look at you, you’re a mess.
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