Published Nov 20, 2017Charles Manson — one of the 20th century's most notorious mass murderers — has died. The onetime aspiring rock musician and leader of the Manson Family died on Sunday (November 19) of natural causes, according to the California Department of Corrections. Manson, who had been jailed for most of his life, was 83.
As the leader of the Manson Family, he orchestrated a wave of violence in 1969, killing seven people. The most famous of the victims was Sharon Tate, an actress who was married to director Roman Polanski. She was killed with four other people and was eight and a half months pregnant at the time of her death.
Following the killings, Manson told police that the Beatles had inspired him to commit the murders. He said he believed that the Beatles' White Album and its song "Helter Skelter" included subliminal messages concerning a coming race war.
Manson served nine life terms in California prisons, and he was denied parole 12 times. Over the years, he became to represent the dark side of the hippy movement and, for many, was seen as the driving force that effectively ended it. He also became one of America's most famed killers, with countless books and films exploring the deranged cult leader.
Along with Manson's now-infamous link to the Beatles, he has many deep connections in the music world. Manson was a onetime aspiring musician, with his move to San Francisco in the '60s prompted by his desire to become a rock star. Manson had written many songs and recorded demos with producer Phil Kaufman, but failed at the time to land a record deal.
It's during these early years that Manson gained followers — mainly young women — who would eventually become his notorious Manson Family. It's also during this time that Manson infamously met and befriended the Beach Boys' Dennis Wilson. The band, in fact, covered one of Manson's songs, originally called "Cease to Exist" but reworked as the Beach Boys' "Never Learn Not to Love" — the B-side to the group's "Bluebirds over the Mountain" single on December 2, 1968.
When Manson did not get a credit on the Beach Boys song or a record deal on the band's label, however, he became outraged and attempted to confront Beach Boys producer Terry Melcher. When Manson went to Melcher's house, however, he discovered that the producer had moved out and actress Sharon Tate had moved in. It was soon after that Manson ordered the murder of Tate, as well as the house's other occupants.
With this dark and infamous position in pop culture, Manson would go on to be featured on the covers of publications such as Rolling Stone and Spin. Along with releasing many albums of his own music over the years — most from prison — his songs were also covered by the likes of Guns N' Roses, Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson, who of course got his name from the killer. Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor also once lived in Sharon Tate's house, where he recorded the band's classic album The Downward Spiral.