Before he was known as a ruthless cult leader and murderer, Charlie Manson was just another California hippie with musical aspirations who wandered the Hollywood Hills and hobnobbed with stars. During the late '60s, prior to the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders, the site of Charles Manson with celebrities was pretty commonplace at Hollywood parties. The charismatic killer managed to charm his way into the inner circles of many A-listers. Charlie Manson's music actually impressed a few big names.
Charles Manson and the Beach Boys were very chummy. Charles Manson and Neil Young had an encounter that impressed Young so much, he tried to get Manson a record deal. There are even Manson music recordings in existence due to these and other connections. Needless to say, those on the Hollywood scene were shocked to learn the eccentric singer harbored homicidal intents. The murders that occurred in August 1969 were one of many violent events that marked the end of the peace and love era of the sixties.
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The most famous Manson-celebrity connection never even met him, but became notorious through circumstance. Model and actress Sharon Tate, who moved into the house on El Cielo Drive with her husband Roman Polanksi after producer Terry Melcher vacated it. Polanski was in London for work and Tate was eight-and-a-half months pregnant on August 9, 1969, when Manson's family members showed up to Tate's home at Manson's behest.
They violently killed Tate and her unborn child along with four friends: Hollywood hairdresser Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger, and 18-year-old Steven Parent.
Tate's horiffic and premature death created a legacy for the actress, and posthumous top billing on her final film.
Perhaps the most infamous of Manson’s Hollywood connections was his relationship with Beach Boy drummer Dennis Wilson. After a trip to India with the Beatles in 1968, Wilson was high on enlightenment and intrigued when he met a group of women claiming to have a compelling spiritual guru named Charlie.
Upon meeting him, Wilson immediately found Manson appealing. He allowed Manson and his family to move into his home and introduced him to contacts in the musical world. He even produced a never-released record with Manson and the other Beach Boys, containing 10 songs. It's also reported that Dennis supported the Manson with thousands of dollars' worth of contributions including $1,000 in penicillin shots to treat Manson's gonorrhea.
The relationship eventually soured. Wilson claimed to have seen Manson murder a man at Spahn Ranch and then stuff him down a well. Manson also brandished a bullet in front of Wilson’s face and said, “Every time you look at it, I want you to think how nice it is your kids are still safe.” Enraged, Wilson physically attacked Manson. Wilson then abandoned his home and never returned.
The Beach Boys actually did gain some artistic inspiration from Manson. The Beach Boys song “Never Learn Not To Love” is a reworked version of a Manson song titled “Cease To Exist.” The song was released less than six months before the Tate-LaBianca murders.
Although he does not remember the precise date, Neil Young remembers being quite taken with Manson at some point during the 1960s. He was at a party at Dennis Wilson’s home when he met Manson and some of his female folowers, whom he described as people with an “intense vibe.” Manson played some of his songs for Young, who was impressed and even compared the young artist to Bob Dylan.
Young went as far to recommend Manson to a record executive, but the Tate-LaBianca murders occurred shortly thereafter.
Dennis Wilson’s palling around with Charles Manson was not warmly received by his cousin and Beach Boys co-founder Mike Love. In March 2017, Love gave an interview with ABC News in which he said, “One of our family members unknowingly invited Satan into our midst.” He also told ABC the story of a night Manson invited Love to a naked dinner party filled with young women at Dennis Wilson’s home.
Manson invited Love to do acid with the group after dinner, an offer Love declined. As it was a hot night and Love had been sweating considerably, he decided to take a shower. Manson followed him into the bathroom, pulled open the shower door, and scolded Love for leaving the group. Love left the party as quickly as possible after that.