Monday, March 30, 2015

Henry Rollins on those Charles Manson tapes

Below is an abridged version of an abridged version of an interview with Henry Rollins, on playing a vampire, the indignities of auditions, his relationship to radio and what happened with all that Charles Manson music business. Aside from the promo clip below from "He Never Died", I only re-posted the section dealing with Manson music:



 

There's a film called "Manson Family Vacation" [which played at SXSW] and it touches on Charles Manson's music career and about the draw to the myth and the man. You had been involved with some of his musical output in the 1980s…

Well let's frame it correctly. His attorney sent SST Records – I'm not an owner, I just work there, SST and Touch & Go and every other indie label -- a copy of a C90 and a C60 of Manson playing at Vacaville [Prison].

All the labels passed. SST didn't. Greg Ginn and Chuck Dukowski said yes to the project. There was no one there to edit it, everyone's busy. And I said "I'll do it." I put on the tapes and listened. It's good! Like there's an album here of acoustic folky bluesy scat improv vocal music.

I write Charles Manson a very Boy Scoutish letter. "I read Helter Skelter in ninth grade so I'm aware of your career." I said "I'm your editor and I've been working on edits. I'm going to fade in and fade out. I have a 35 minute record. I think it's good." Like, I'm your editor. Not a producer because the tracks were produced in a prison cell.

And he wrote me back immediately. "I've seen you on MTV, man. You and I look alike. We're brothers of a different time." I'm like okay, he's trying to get in my head.

And I had this correspondence with him that lasted from ‘84 to 1987. And like I have letters, photographs, maps, drawings, things he'd make me out of yarn. Crazy stuff. But the record got as far as the six test pressings. Word of the record came out, the L.A. Times got a hold of it. We started getting the most incredible death threats. Like, "Here's your address and I will cut your head off if you put this record out." And "I know you practice here. You live here and you walk this way to practice." I'm like wow, this is real.

I wanted to put the record out. I said screw these guys – let's do it. Greg and Chuck cancelled it.

Manson took it all out on me, like "I knew you'd rip me off!" He called me a bunch of names. I tried to explain the cult politicism of SST Records and our stated station in L.A. I tried and he's like "No, you ripped me off. The Beach Boys ripped me off. All you guys…" – All kinds of language.

Yeah, he just flipped out on me. I'm like, "Charlie, it's not me. I'm on the label but I'm not the label." You can't explain something like that to a guy like that. I did the best I could and finally, on the last letter he cooled out a little so I think he did have a moment to… I said it's not me. It's Frank and Chuck and they're afraid they're going to get cut up. I said fuck it, let's just put it out.

The last letter I ever got from him he said okay, we're cool. And then I never heard from him again. And so it's not my property. It's not even SST's. They dropped it.

So it belongs to Charlie I guess. A good record. It's been bootlegged. It's out. I called it "Completion" from his poem he sent me. And if you type in "Manson Completion" [in a search], that's because that's the edited tape. It made the rounds and I've seen it online. In fact, I've seen a CD of it. And so you can find it. Of the six test presses, I have two. So that's probably the rarest thing from it. But it'll never be released by SST, I doubt it. But it's out there, it's around.

Other labels have put out his music.

Yes, quite a bit. He sent me about 40 hours of stuff that I'm sitting on. The album, though, is from only the two tapes. But his lawyer is like "Well Charlie wanted you to have this" and it's these books of cassettes. I'm like "Thanks." I've played some of them. Some of the sound quality just sounds like a bunch of people in a prison just slamming doors. But I have many hours of Manson that he gave me.

Would you like to put that into the world?

Well it's not mine. And I'm very – I'm proprietary of other people's stuff, in that it does not belong to me. It is not mine to put out. How dare I. And people give me stuff all the time. I've got rare music like you've got hair on your head. The kind of stuff like, that I shouldn't have, like this never happened. All kinds of music that's never gone anywhere because I promised I wouldn't play it.

I know what's mine and what's not mine and I don't betray. Like, you could give me a million dollars and leave. Come back in 20 years, I go "You left this." I'm not going to rip you off. I'm just not that guy. It's been done to me. I don't want to do it to someone else.

I have a big music archive, a lot of things that I have one of a kind, cover artwork, correspondence. I buy estates, you know, like if a guy dies, I'm like, "Are you going to sell that?"

You need a house for that, right?

Well it takes the capacity of a three story building, all the stuff.

So anyway I'm very honest with all that stuff and so the Manson stuff, that's up to him and his people. I haven't been in touch with the guy for 30 years or so, so I don't know what his life is like.




Original article found HERE

Thanks, Chatsworth Charlie!






35 comments:

Senor Robot said...

If i'm not mistaken, Manson touches on this in the KALX radio interview. According to him, the people associated with Black Flag contacted him. I believe that whatever Completion was to be is represented on Live at san quentin. My feelings begin to grow being the aforementioned scat improv. But what do i know.

candy and nuts said...

wow what a shocker people again threatened who write books or help charlie get his music out with threats etc henry rollins is no pushover or pansy to screw with

candy and nuts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jenn said...

As a professional musician, Manson-as-musician has always been an interest of mine. I was 14 when TLB happened, and I was making music something like Manson's at the time. When I heard his tapes later, I remember thinking, "Yeah, he might have had a career." Knowing what I know now after years of experience, my thoughts are different. LA was full of people who played, sang, and wrote better than Manson. It still is. He wasn't a distinguished player (he didn't even tune well), but several who made it big in the 60s and 70s weren't special players. But there are studio cats to do that for you. Heck, none of the Byrds except McGuinn played on their first album, for example. His writing? Again, nothing special, in my opinion. His singing? His strongest skill, I think. He's in tune and expressive. But was his voice special or different enough for him to make it? I doubt it. But even given all of this, there's another factor that would keep him from being signed. And that is his attitude. He wouldn't take advice, wouldn't consider (or wouldn't be able to) collaborate with others, in my opinion. He'd act all paranoid, stubborn, belligerent, etc. it would be "my way or the highway." Unless the talent is just over the moon great and obvious (think Morrison or Stills), record companies would not take the chance on a Manson. Melcher would know that, clearly. So in my view, Manson was never destined to be a rock star. He could have played some clubs in the Valley, singing for his supper, and that's about it.

chimpydork said...

Speaking of Manson music -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQjClpIq210

Go, Clem GO!!
=D (the guy can actually throw down - who said he was "retarded?")

"Adam Gabriel" is currently touring the world with Mitch Woods.

chimpydork said...

If anybody lives in the Bay area, you can go see Clem jam this upcoming Wed. April 21 at Biscuits and Blues
http://www.biscuitsandblues.com/mitchwoods

If I'm there, I will buy a beer for the first one from this great website to loudly scream out "Go Scramblehead, GO!!!" in the middle of one of "Adam's" hot guitar solos.
(just kidding - but the gig is real)
I will buy unlimited drinks if you record a video of same and share it.
Be there or be square! =D

Mr. Humphrat said...

thanks Chimpy I likes it

Matt said...

Well, Clem is likely to skip that gig now.

Jemima Puddleduck said...

Chimpydork, whatever your views on Clem, his life and his music, he has served his time and is legally free to try to recreate some kind of life for himself. Am I wrong to wonder whether we might not be better just leaving the poor guy alone? It's easy enough to hide behind the anonymity of boards like this, but given that he is working under a new (and for all I now legally changed) name is what you are doing here not harassment. Just asking.

Mr. Humphrat said...

I meant I like the clip of music. Love the blues, they can be so happy.

Doc Sierra said...

He's an awesome guitarist. I've always been more of a Gibson guy but he's able to get that bitey sound out of that Strat along with some screaming harmonics. He's really good, did his time, seems to be happy. I myself am going to respect his privacy. I think the guy deserves it.....

St Circumstance said...

Jenn- what would the early LA rock sound be like without the contributions of' The Wrecking Crew"?

:)

So lets see lol

Charlie has a high IQ and was the leader.

Tex came from a good family and had some education.

Bobby was very bright and the most reasonable and sensible of them all today.

And.....

"Even by the Families standards, Clem was considered crazy"

Crazy like a fox huh? Whilst the rest of them rot away- Clem is out having maybe the best life of anyone associated with this group...

Unfair? Ironic? Or just another example of:

No sense makes sense??

HellzBellz said...

I think Grogan is doing much better ,then Manson ever did in ,,Music-Bussiness,, You can see Steve Grogan having the time of his life in what he is doing now.... and remember: NOW is the only time thats real !!

Jemima Puddleduck said...

No comparison, JB. Manson was never going to go beyond being a bar room singer who could strum and had picked up a few licks. Partly because he couldn't work with other musicians or producers and partly cos he wasn't really such a great talent (despite a few catchy tunes). Some say he had a good voice, but a lot of what people think is Manson singing is actually Clem.

Remember the late 60s was the time of the singer songwriter - people like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Bod Dylan even. Manson just wasn't and isn't in the game.

Max Frost said...

"A lot of what people think is Manson singing is actually Clem"

That's an inaccurate statement.

It sounds like you're referring to the MISTAKE that Reagan Jr. made when he incorrectly stated that Clem was singing Look at Your Game Girl. The only other similar mistake was in Hendrickson's film where the subtitles incorrectly say it's Manson singing Helter Skelter but it is actually Clem.

Manson had a great voice. He obviously had much more potential than just strumming a few tunes in a coffee shop if Neil Young tried to get him a deal with Warner Brothers.

Jemima Puddleduck said...

'Manson had a great voice'. Well, this is a value judgment and –as with all aesthetic issues– very subjective. All I can say is, if he has/had a great voice I've just never heard the tracks when he brought it out. to play. Maybe it's me, maybe we can each round up a few random people and play a few Manson tracks and see how many people think he has/had a great voice.

Janis Joplin had a great voice. Tony Bennett had a great voice. Ella Fitzgerald and Sara Vaughan had great voices. Amy Winehouse had a great voice. But Manson, ...?

Mind you I can see Neil Young liking him. Neil has always liked the rough, uncluttered voice - indeed has just recorded his own [brilliant] album 'A Letter Home', on 1940's equipment. But he sounds a lot better than Manson :-)

I'll come back to the Clem/Manson voice confusion as I'm not at home right now.

Jem

Mr. Humphrat said...

Didn't Manson have a big hit with "Mule Train?"

Max Frost said...

Neil liked him for more than just his voice. So did Dennis. So did the producer who "discovered" him on The street and brought him into Goldstar on 9-11-67.

The point is there were a lot of successful people in the music biz who thought he had what it takes to make it - they were gunning for him. They obviously saw much more than just a bar room singer/song writer.

Matt said...

But just like at the trials he couldn't get out of his own way. He shouldn't have been permitted to represent himself to music agents either.

Mr. Humphrat said...

For making up lyrics on the spot he was considered very talented. He probably could have made a lot of money as a street performer, not just with his songs but banter etc. He could have been very popular.

Max Frost said...

Those that tried to help him would not have tried to help him if all they saw was a guy with the potential to be a popular street performer.

Yeah Matt, he was in his own way but he didn't really care anyway.

chatsworth charlie said...

Wow, Max breaks his "Code Of Silence"

Max Frost said...

Technical difficulties - haven't been able to comment for months.

Of course I'm using my phone. I could have from a computer but who uses those antiquated things anymore?

Jenn said...

Saint wrote: "Jenn- what would the early LA rock sound be like without the contributions of' The Wrecking Crew"?"

Not nearly as good! ;-)

Robert Hendrickson said...

The Producer of "The Ron Reagan Show" told me that Clem was making a living selling HIS music. For some reason I thought he meant "The Family" stuff. Anyone ever buy any of Clem's music and if so, is it all original to him or does it include anything recorded with the Family ? The "producer" went on to produce some TV sitcom called "Friends."

Whether Manson can sing or not OR just what he might have been good at - seems a little strange to my ears - especially because: When you consider what HE is apparently GOOD at - HE is obviously the BEST at it.

P.S Matt: You are getting dangerously close to reality.

Matt said...

Anyone have some Preparation H?

Doc Sierra said...

I thought I heard a phart but it's just our friendly neighborhood troll.....

candy and nuts said...

I was given the two cd set of the Family Jams by the loveable jon aes-nils...Clem was lead guitar-singer with the girls backup gypsy violin Clem defintely could sing and play exactly like Charlie so jemma saying Clem sang much of Charlies recording is an easy mistake to make

candy and nuts said...

vera iconic rhymes with colonic just saying evacuate what is binding you up

candy and nuts said...

oops was it ironic vera,,,,,

candy and nuts said...

vera jk like Hannibal Lector said you need to have more fun in life,,,,,,,,

Matt said...

Vera Dreiser said...

Well, as always the sycophants and suck-ups would rather make juvenile attempts at humor rather than address the hypocrisy of Matt's comment.


Ok, Vera, you ignorant slut: first of all I was responding in a sarcastic but polite manner to chimpy's comment. If he really wanted to gather a crowd to see Clem perform the last way to accomplish that would be to announce it in a forum that Grogan reads.

Second, and for the other mentally retarded readers, only likenesses have ever been published her, not addresses, workplace histories or other personal info.

Please commit suicide.



candy and nuts said...

matt lmao

candy and nuts said...

vera i dont know you or what upsets you but it seems these blogs do um then again doesnt matter to me if you spin your wheels all day whatever makes you happy

Matt said...

None of us have any idea what you are talking about, nor do we care to. You are back to delete on sight.

Can't you haunt a house that you like?