The Manson Murders and Rock… 43 Years Later
August 9th and 10th mark the 43rd anniversary of the “Manson Murders” in which friends of Charles Manson walked into houses of total strangers in the middle of the night and butchered them in shockingly brutal fashion. Actress Sharon Tate, who was 8 months pregnant at the time, was one of the victims.
These murders have become a part of American pop culture over the years as an example of human behavior at it’s absolute worst. 43 years later, people are still fascinated with the story of Helter Skelter and the convicted mastermind of it all, Charles Manson. Manson has become a symbol of evil in the eyes of many yet his influence on rock music is undeniable. Some of my favorite artists have touched on the subject in one way or another. Here is some of what we’ve seen so far…
First of all, Manson was convicted as a result of the prosecution’s theory that the music of The Beatles, specifically The White Album and the song “Helter Skelter” contained messages that Manson believed the band was sending to him. Helter Skelter represented a race war that the prosecution argued Manson believed he would ignite with the murders. You can read all about that in Vincent Bugliosi’s best-selling book.
So we’ve got The Beatles involved from the get-go, but Manson was also a musician himself and wrote a ton of music including a song that was eventually recorded and released by The Beach Boys.
Ozzy Osbourne’s 1988 album No Rest For The Wicked includes the song “Bloodbath In Paradise” which is about the horrific homicides.
The Lemonheads 2nd album Creator, features a cover of Manson’s “Your Home Is Where You’re Happy”.
Axl Rose wore a Charles Manson shirt in the video for the song “Dead Horse” from 1991’s Use Your Illuision I and Guns N’ Roses included a cover of Manson’s song “Look At Your Game, Girl” on their 1993 album “The Spaghetti Incident?”.
Brian Warner dreamed up the idea to combine the names of icons Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson to create Marilyn Manson, and the rest is history.
The English band Kasabian is named after Linda Kasabian, who went along with other Manson Family members on the 2 nights of murder but later testified against the killers in court in exchange for immunity.
Alkaline Trio’s song “Sadie” is about deceased Manson murderer Susan Atkins.
System Of A Down’s 2001 album “Toxicity” features a song called “ATWA” which is an acronym created by Charles Manson that stands for “Air, Trees, Water and Animals” and is a call for humans to save the environment.
One of my favorite rappers, Necro, also released a song called “Creepy Crawl” which is an insanely violent description of the murders in the form of incredible poetry, as the opening track on his 2007 album, Death Rap.
I’m sure there are many other examples…
Sex, drugs, Hollywood celebrities and murder, the Manson story has it all. That’s why I suspect we’ll continue to see more references to it in rock music in the future. I’m happy the right people ended up behind bars but I’m afraid we’ll never quite know exactly what inspired these senseless killings to occur back in 1969, and I’m amazed and perhaps a little disappointed in our society that the man said to be responsible for it all has become one of our biggest rockstars. – Shaffee