Monday, May 15, 2017

The Manson Sessions

We know that Manson had more than one recording session between his release from prison in March, 1967 and the murders in early August, 1969. One of these occurred at Brian Wilson’s home studio. Manson’s frustrated recording career, which he allegedly blamed on Terry Melcher, was touted by Bugliosi at the trial as one of the ‘motives’ for the murders. The latest ABC two-hour documentary “Truth and Lies: The Manson Family” spent a significant amount of time on this


Specifically, Bugliosi says:

"We knew there was at least one secondary motive for the Tate murders. As Susan Atkins put it in the Caballero tape, “The reason Charlie picked that house was to instill fear into Terry Melcher because Terry had given us his word on a few things and never came through with them.” But this was obviously not the primary motive, since, according to Gregg Jakobson, Manson knew that Melcher was no longer living at 10050 Cielo Drive."

Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 269). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

"Manson was counting on Terry Melcher to produce this album. According to numerous Family members (both Melcher and Jakobson denied this), Terry had promised to come and listen to the songs one evening. The girls cleaned the house, baked cookies, rolled joints. Melcher didn’t show. Manson, according to Poston and Watkins, never forgave Terry for this. Melcher’s word was no good, he said angrily on a number of occasions."

Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 298). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

The evidence, in my opinion, establishes that this simply does not make sense. Far from having a ‘dead end’ career caused by Melcher, by August 1, 1969 it appears Manson’s career was progressing better than it ever had to that point.

Very little is available regarding the non-Beach Boys sessions. But here is what I have been able to find out.


UNI Records  

8255 Sunset Blvd.


Manson met Phil Kaufman at Terminal Island shortly before his release. Kaufman was impressed enough with Manson’s music that he suggested Manson contact his friend, Gary Stromberg, after he was released.

Stromberg, in turn, was impressed enough by Manson that he arranged a three-hour studio session for him at Universal City Records (UNI). Stromberg apparently also consulted with Manson regarding a potential film project. 
Stromberg: "So Phil told him I was in fits and sent him to see me. He's a charming guy, he really had charisma. 

He used to come over two or three times a week in a bus which he painted white. And he had painted Hollywood Film Company across the side so nobody would bother him. And inside it was really trippy. He had an icebox and a stereo system and a floating coffee table suspended from the ceiling. The only food they had was cream puffs. Someone had given them a case of cream puffs and every day that's what they existed on. We would sit in the bus and listen to records or he would play. And we'd eat cream puffs. 

The thing that really attracted me to Charlie was that I was working on a story at Universal for a film that took the premise that if Jesus came back today, in this country and this climate and current situation, that he most likely would or very well could have been a black man. We were going to construct a story about Christ returning as a black man in the South today. Naturally the white Christians would have been the Romans. 

Charlie is very Christ-like and has a Christ-like philosophy. And he was technical advisor on what Christ's positions would have been relative to certain things. He got very into it because he liked the idea of being an authority on Christ. He has a very sophisticated knowledge of Biblical things. He doesn't read but he seemed well read. And we would bounce things off Charlie in developing the story.

The movie was never made. Universal hated it, despised it."

Quoted in:

The Music Corporation of America (MCA) got into the record business in 1962 when they purchased the US Decca label. In 1966 they added Universal City Records. The logo abbreviated the name to UNI and the company was commonly called UNI Records. The label's focus was 'psychedelic' bands.

A source I don’t trust claims the original ‘Lie’ album sleeve notes say ‘Look At Your Game Girl’ and ‘Eyes of a Dreamer’ were recorded during these sessions. If you have the album you can verify this. I have not been able to corroborate it. By the release of that album the same source says the tapes had disappeared and Kaufman took the songs from a 45 rpm record credited to ‘Silverhawk’. I found no reference to 'Silverhawk' as a label or a recording studio. 

Manson did record 'Sick City' at this session and the songs recorded here form the basis of the 'Unplugged' and 'Summer of Hate '67' and 'All the Way Live' CDs. Manson is clearly nervous but the music has a few good moments. Manson doesn't play complete songs on several occasions during the recordings, which may explain why this didn't go anywhere. 

The 'Unplugged' CD completely refutes one part of the 'Cease to Exist' documentary. In the documentary around 18:00 there is an exchange between Manson and the booth where Manson describes the microphones as 'phallic symbols'. The documentary claims this is the Beach Boys recordings and that the voice from the booth is Dennis Wilson. The exact same exchange occurs at about 17:57 of the 'Unplugged' recordings. It is also interesting that at 27:27 (about) of 'Unplugged' Manson discusses his 'you can't get out of the room through the door' philosophy, which Kaufman claims Manson spoke to  prison guard in his presence on Terminal Island.


Gold Star Studios

6252 Santa Monica Boulevard


Most sources say most of the 'Lie' album was recorded at Gold Star Studios on August 8, 1968, one year prior to the murders at Cielo Drive. In his interview with Aaron Stovitz on January 27, 1970 (one of the worst witness interviews I have ever heard) Kaufman explains that ‘the girls’ approached him regarding the album and brought him some tapes. It is probable these are the tapes.

Some sources claim that Gary Stromberg arranged this session. To me that doesn’t make sense. First it means Manson waited over a year after his early release from prison before he contacted Kaufman’s friend. Second, that would leave the 1967 UNI session unaccounted for. More likely this session was arranged by Dennis Wilson and may be the origin for the claim that the Beach Boys recorded Manson in the summer of 1968.

Gold Star was founded by David S. Gold and Stan Ross in 1950. The name came from David's name, (David) GOLD and Stan's name, STA(n) R(oss). Ross hand made the original recording equipment. However, the studio's claim to fame was its echo chambers.

Gold Star was the recording venue for Phil Spector’s ‘Wall of Sound’ recordings. However, the Manson-link is the Beach Boys. ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ and ‘Good Vibrations’ were both recorded at Gold Star in 1966. ‘Home On the Range’, ‘Heroes and Villains’ and other tracks that were to be part of the Smile project were recorded here in 1966 and 1967. Additional songs were recorded at Gold Star by the Beach Boys in March 1969. You can find this at the link, below. 

This site and other sources (in fact, most other sources) claim the Beach Boys ‘Manson’ sessions at Brian’s home occurred sometime during the summer of 1968. They didn't. 


1969 is the most interesting year in Manson’s recording career if for no other reason than supposedly it was his encounters with Terry Melcher in May 1969 that lead directly to the ‘Secondary’ or ‘Revenge’ motive.

It appears the Melcher listened to  Manson on three occasions. The first of these occurred at Dennis Wilson's house and this ended with Wilson giving Melcher a ride back to Cielo Drive with Manson in the back seat. If this event happened it likely happened in 1968 as Melcher moved from Cielo the first week of January, 1969. 

In May 1969 Gregg Jakobson convinced Melcher to come to Spahn Ranch and listen to Manson ‘in his element’. On the second occasion Jakobson arranged to have Michael Deasy and his ‘mobile recording trailer’ present to record the event. I was unable to verify whether Deasy actually recorded Manson on this occasion or if he did what happened to these tapes.

Sound City Studios 

15452 Cabritto Road 

Van Nuys, California

Manson recorded here sometime after April 1969 in Studio B. Sound City’s Facebook page acknowledges that Manson recorded there and says that Dennis Wilson arranged the Sound City sessions for Manson.

“Dennis [Wilson] was the person with the acquaintance with the Manson family-- in a way responsible for Charlie's demos being done at Sound City, sometime in 1968.”

The problem with that timing (1968) is that, according to their own website and the California Corporate Division, Sound City didn't exist until April 1969.



Here is how Studio B is described on one website (probably long after Manson was there): 

Studio Dimensions
Studio : 26' X 18'     Ceilings Height : 14'     Drum Booth : 18' X 9' X 14'
Neve 8038, (34) Inputs, (16) Busses and (24)
Tape Machines
(1) Studer 800MKII 24 Track     (16 Track head stack available)
(2) Studer A80 two tracks     (1/2" & 1/4" heads available )
(1) Panasonic 3700 DAT recorder

Monitoring Systems
George Augsberger Design with JBL Components, Tuned by Steve Brandon
NS - 10M's

Outboard Gear For Studio B
(1)   Yamaha SPX900
(1)   Yamaha SPX990
(2)   Urei 1176 Limiters
(1)   Lang PEQ-2 Equalizer
(1)   Lexicon PCM 42
(1)   EQP-1A
(2)   DBX - 165a compressor / limiters
(2)   DBX - 160xt compressor / limiters
(1)   Eventide H-3500 SE harmonizer
(1)   Eventide H - 949 harmonizer
(1)   Eventide H - 910 harmonizer
(1)   Eventide FL-201 efx processor
(1)   GML 8200 stereo parametric equalizer
(1)   Tube Tech LCA-2B
(1)   Drawmer DS-404 (4 gates )

Some of the greatest albums of all time were recorded at Sound City including After the Gold Rush (Neil Young), Terrapin Station (The Grateful Dead), Rumors (Fleetwood Mac), Damn the Torpedoes (Tom Petty), Nevermind (Nirvana) and Spirit’s The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus.

Tom Skeeter and Joe Gottried founded Sound City in 1969. Over 100 gold albums were recorded there between 1969 and 2011. At the heart of the studio's success it is said was its fabled Neve 8028 analogue recording console (pictured above), which Skeeter and Gottfried added to the studio shortly after opening.

David Grohl, formerly of Nirvana, made a documentary about Sound City that won accolades at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013. He thought about putting Manson in the film but decided against it.

The date Manson recorded here is unknown. I believe it was in the spring of 1969 as part of Jakobson's efforts to record him during that window. 

Wilder Brothers Studio 

10323 Santa Monica Blvd 

Los Angeles

According to his trial testimony Gregg Jakobson began recording Manson fairly extensively in the Spring of 1969.
Q (Fitzgerald): Did you ever actually record any of the music?
A. Yes.
Q: In a studio?   
A Yes.
Q: On more than one occasion.?
A Yes.


Q. When?
A. This would have been in the Spring of 1969.

Q. (Kanarak) What do you mean, you could have been recording?
A. Well, I mean, I could have gone there to discuss recording. It could have been the time period in which Charlie Manson and I were going to a recording studio a lot and recording.
Q. I see.
Q (Kanarek): And directing your attention, then,- were you recording -- now that you remember it so clearly for us, would you tell us, were you recording on that day?
A. I couldn't tell you.
Q. Well, you --
A. I said before, it could have been the time period, and by "time period," I mean, it was several weeks, or a month that we were going into the studio and recording.

Later, writing under the rather ineffective alias, Lance Fairweather, Jakobson had this to say.

"Sometime later I started recording Charlie at a little studio here called Wilder Studio. And the owner George Wilder, was leery of Charlie because he knew Charlie was an ex-con, and because Charlie to a straight person is sort of a wild looking guy-his eyes, his hair, his movements and everything. So he was a little leery of Charlie and he kept bugging me saying, 'Listen, this guy is an ex-com. I don't know what he's going to do. He might flip out or beat me up or something. And what about my money.'

So Charlie turned to him and said, 'Aw, don't worry about your money. You can have all these guitars.' And Wilder, dumbfounded, said, 'Wait a minute. What does he mean I can have all these guitars?' It really blew his mind. Charlie just walked out, saying, 'You can have 'em man.' He was bugged. He left him two or three amplifiers, two electric guitars, and acoustic guitar and some other instruments."

Quoted in:

Wilder Brothers Studio was founded, not surprisingly, by the Wilder Brothers. The brothers were Warner, Walter and George Weidler. Their mother, a former Wagnerian opera singer in both Germany and the US, encouraged the lads to explore music. They appeared in several films as children and later performed with Les Brown's orchestra and Stan Kenton's orchestra. George also played saxophone.  Doris Day was Les Brown's lead singer (that's Doris to the right). She was married to George from 1946-1949. 

Their early 'solo' work as a vocal group was under the name Weidler Brothers and consisted mostly of polka music. In the mid-fifties they changed their name and released several novelty songs and a few doo-wop singles. That's the brothers to the left (George is on the right). For anyone interested they can be heard here:

The tapes from Sound City and Wilder Brothers have never surfaced but must be fairly extensive based upon Jakobson's comments.

Brian's Home Studio 

10452 Bellagio Road

Los Angeles 

The official narrative says the recording sessions which took place at Brian Wilson's home happened during he summer of 1968. They actually happened a few weeks before the murders during the summer of 1969.

Stephen Desper is a recoding engineer who worked extensively with the Beach Boys. During the summer of 1969 Desper received a call from Beach Boys management telling him that Dennis Wilson wanted him to record Manson. Desper set up a series of nighttime sessions with Manson (and a few of the girls). The mythology that has grown up around these sessions claims that Manson pulled a knife on Desper and threatened him but Desper actually terminated the sessions for a different reason.

Desper left the tapes on a shelf in the studio and later after the murders became the 'Manson murders' was ordered to move them to 'the vault'. To the best of his knowledge no one has ever listened to the tapes and they sit there to this day. 

Here is what Desper has had to say about the sessions.

A day or two before Charlie came to Brian's house studio, I received a call from management (i.e. [Nick] Grillo) that a friend of Dennis' would be coming to the studio such-and-such a night for a recording session that Dennis wanted arranged for Charlie. It was to be a demo session of singing and guitar playing by this guy Charlie Manson. Dennis would not be there. Brian was out and Carl had no interest. It was Charles, myself and several tag-along girls. Actually there were several late-nite sessions until I finally refused to record him further. I can handle almost any artist's idiosyncrasies, of which Charlie had many, but it was the smell of this un-kept and un-washed human that I had to sit next to at the console that I could not or rather did not wish to endure any longer. Why the hell any girl would want to have sex with a person with BO is beyond me, but still there were three or four young ones waiting every night out in the studio to just get the chance; his so-called "family." Charles Manson was Dennis' Brother Records project. No other Beach Boy was interested. At the very least they agreed to give Dennis the studio for a couple of demo sessions -- and then the plan was to listen to what got recorded and see if Dennis' friend was worth a chance on the BRI label. I have often wondered how much my canceling of the demo sessions played in the subsequent unfoldment of events in the follow weeks, as Charles has said his motive for revenge was primed from his belief that his talents were not appreciated by the label -- although he was not that talented and certainly not ready for the recording scene ... as I reported back to management. But then, one can play the "what if" game about any event, and it proves nothing.

To my knowledge they are still in the vault where I was told to place them the day the story broke of the Manson murders. However things in the vault seem to come and go.”


“Please keep in mind as you read all this, that it happened a couple of weeks BEFORE the "event."  So to me he was this creapy guy I was to record playing his Guitar and singing some original songs. I treated Charlie with the same respect as anyone recording in the studio, but he started out a little pushy, or maybe that's how it impressed me. In hind sight I'd say he just had a problem with authority.  At first it was, "I'm going to do this and you record me," whereas after the first playback it became more like, "what do I do now so you can make a better recording." That is, he realized that I was running the session, not him -- that he was out of his league in the studio environment and had best trust an expert if he wanted the end product to reflect his best side. Once that was established he did farily [sic] well as an artist and things moved along. 

“From my perspective, here was a single artist playing a single instrument, and I had eight tracks to capture whatever I wanted. So of course, record the guitar in stereo and the vocal with two mics. That's four tracks. I could have the artist add a bass or overdub. That never happended [sic].  But anyway... Charlie's envision of recording was him in front of a mic. When confronted with four microphones and baffles, he was overwhelmed. He had to sit, or try to stay somewhat in the center between the two mics. His vocal screen had two mics behind it, each with their own track. This would give me two different microphone signatures to blend for a final sound. I was in and out of the studio making adjustments and complaining to him to sit still. He was constantly standing up and being fidgety. I would just get it all adjusted and he would move out of his seat. Finally I told him that if he wanted a successful demo recording he was going to need to settle down and listen to me. I was on his side. Just follow my instructions and play real good. The rest, I'll take care of and make him sound great. Give me your best, and I'll give you mine. So after a while he settled into the whole recording scene and we did get some good tracks.

I recorded Charles Manson playing several songs during the course of a few days. Those tapes were placed on the tape shelf located under the monitors. During the next few weeks and to my knowledge no one ever requested to hear them. They ask me what I thought of him as a potential talent for the label, but then time ran out. That is to say, before the tapes were ever reviewed by anyone, the murders happened and the tapes were locked away. Even Dennis never ask about the tapes only to inquire if he showed up for the sessions. Dennis wanted to be certain that his friend had been able to make the demo recordings, which was what he told Charlie he would arrange for him. 

You see, Manson was very unaware of how these things work. He thought that he would record the demo, then the next day everyone would listen and a contract would be pushed under his nose. In practice, these things may take months to pan out. Undoubtedly Dennis and Charlie talked, but their understandings mean nothing in the music business. They were both lawyers & contracts away from anything meaningful.” 

“If Manson would have exhibited more patience with the situation, eventually someone would hear the demo and make a judgement. Maybe they would buy a song or two. Who knows.”

His impressions of Manson.
“I will be glad to answer any other questions you may have. I'm not afraid to speak on this matter. I got along with Charlie from the start. I found his compelling nature an interesting study in human nature. People who exibit [sic] "animal magnetism" to such a high degree are a rare find. I was fascinated [sic] by this aspect of Manson. This along with his coercing use of half-truths, cleverly constructed to make his point seem logical was, to this engineer and scientist, a curiosity that made him an intriguing character.  I could see how his personality and speech might easily endure him to an uneducated young person. I think Brian, Carl and Mike saw right through Charlie's shroud of self-proclaimed truism, but also realized he was just a means by which Dennis could find easy sex with many young girls, and so indulged Dennis' use of the studio as a way of staying on his pimp's good side.”

About ‘Never Learn Not to Love’

“Manson only had a song with basic chords on the guitar and a melody lead line. It was the 'Boys who took that basic concept and turned it into a real commercial tune. All the added vocal arrangement throughout the entire song was created by Brian and Carl. Manson was only in the studio one evening, by himself and his silent girls. He never conferred or worked in any way with the group.”

“After all the stuff of value that Manson ripped off from Dennis, it [Never Learn Not To Love] was a fair trade for the outline of a song that Manson recorded at the Beach Boy's expense, in their studio. The Beach Boys spoke little about ownership of the song. Dennis took Manson's original concept and made something of it ... something Manson could never have done. If Manson had been a decent person, the Beach Boy organization would have given him credit and treasure, as they did with other writers. But Manson was a thief and did not play by civil rules. By those rules, he was compensated as far as they were concerned.”

 About Manson pulling a knife on Desper during the recording sessions.

“He liked to clean under his fingernails with the blade. It was a switchblade knife. Things like that don't bother me. I made it plain from the on-set that I was in charge of the recording session. When he pulled out his knife, I let him clean himself a few times and then ask Manson if I could see his knife and would he show me how it works -- which he did. Then I ask him again if I could hold the knife to see how the weight was. He did give me the knife and I balanced it on my finger to check the balance. We talked a little about balance and how it affected the toss of the knife. After that he put it in his pocked and got down to the business of recording. This knife nail cleaning habit is not unusual among some would-be tough guys. I saw it practiced while in High School as a student. If it was intended to impress or threaten me; it did not -- and Manson knew it by my at-ease with this practice. In fact, Manson displayed respect for me and told me so when he did not have a light for his cigarette. I went off leaving him along in the control room, to search in Brian's house for a match. When I returned with a book of matches, Charlie thought that was really something -- that I would make such an effort on his behalf. (Actually I just did not want him wondering around Brian and Marylin's house looking for a light.) At any event it did tend to make a positive impression in him.”

About the myth that Manson had Dennis Wilson’s home ‘creepy-crawled’.
“I am NOT an expert on the Dennis/Manson matter. All I know is what happened in the studio at those few evening demo sessions with Charlie. I do recall being told that Dennis was laying low for a while, but that's about it.  Never heard any talk around the studio of "creepy-crawlers" in Dennis' bedroom. But if such a thing would have taken place, I would think that everyone would be placed under police protection at that point. Dennis could easily have gone to a cabin, or flown to NYC or Canada if he really wanted to lay low. I doubt if Manson had a passport or the means to fly anywhere. Besides he would need to take a three-hour bath just to get onto an airplane.”

These quotes were taken from Stephen Desper’s comments on this website.,1203.0.html

You have to search through the thread to find the Manson comments. If you go to the site and then to page 75 of the thread and scroll down you will see that ‘Dreath’ makes an appearance. I had hoped given his comment (above) that Mr. Desper might have been willing to let me interview him. As you can see, he declined. However, he was kind enough to confirm the general date of the sessions: 'several weeks before the murders'. That would mean sometime in June or July, 1969.

What about Bugliosi's ‘secondary’ motive?

IMO: It's crap (and I don't care what Manson has said). 

In order for the revenge motive to make any sense two things are essential. First, Manson’s recording career must be at a dead end by July 1969 or at least he had to perceive it that way. Second, Terry Melcher has to be the culprit. Neither of these are supported by the evidence.

In July 1969 Manson’s musical career, far from being at a dead end, had just received a big shot of adrenaline. He was recorded over several nights by Stephen Desper at Brian Wilson’s home studio and the tapes were sitting there waiting for review by Dennis and the Boys. The Boys are going to give them a listen and decide if he was something Brother Records wanted to pick up. Only a few weeks passed after the sessions until the murders occurred, per Desper. There isn't time for a melt down. 

Desper states that he told ‘management’ that he did not think Manson was ready but also acknowledges they recorded some good songs. This was Dennis Wilson’s Brother Records project. According to Desper the band had to listen to the tapes and then make a decision.

Dennis Wilson corroborates Stephen Desper in the interview that appeared in Rave magazine in May 1969: 

"Fear is nothing but awareness. I was frightened as a child because I did not understand fear- the dark, being lost, what was under the bed! It came from within. Sometimes the Wizard frightens me- Charlie Manson, who is another friend of mine who says he is God and the devil! He sings, sings, plays and writes poetry and may be another artist for Brother Records."

Wilson is still talking about Manson a month or so later in another interview that appeared in the July 5, 1969 issue of the Record Mirror. 

So it appears there was interest on Wilson's part a few weeks before the murders. If Desper is correct the issue boiled down to getting the Beach Boys to sit down and listen to the tapes and make a decision. That never happened. Given their schedule from May through September 1969 it is really not surprising.

It also doesn't appear that Melcher's primary 'role' focused on Manson's music. By May, Gregg Jakobson had been pushing Manson on Melcher not to record him (initially) but to make a documentary about Manson and the Family. That's why he took Melcher to Spahn. If the Melcher/Jakobson connection was primarily music why not just give Melcher the Wilder tapes and ask him to take a listen? Jakobson believed that a film about Manson would be the avenue to introduce his music? He then thought Melcher would also record Manson. It was, as he has said, a package.

Q (Bugliosi). Did you ever want to make a documentary film, on him?
A. Yes.
Q. Did you discuss your interest in Manson with Terry Melchior [sic]?'
A. Yes.
Q. Did, you want Melchior to somehow be involved in this project?
A. I did.
Q. In what fashion?
A. As a producer, financier.

Lance Fairweather (Jakobson)

"I wanted Terry Melcher to meet Charlie and make this film of him. If we could sell the man, his music would emerge, so I wanted some backing for the film.”

I find it interesting that shortly after these events Robert Hendrickson obtained access to make his documentary, 'Manson'. Perhaps Manson's discussions with Jakobson paved the way for that.

Now, could it be that after the Beach Boys sessions Wilson may have gotten wind of the Bernard Crowe shooting (which leads to Mick Love's fable about an M16)? Yes, it might have happened that way and if it did Wilson and Jakobson may have both quickly distanced themselves from Manson by mid-July.

Lance Fairweather seems to hint that something like that did happen.
“Also, he supposedly shot a spade in the stomach in Topanga. A friend called me up and said, "You know that crazy guy Charlie? He shot some spade in the stomach, then took his jacket, bent over, kissed his feet and said, 'I love you, brother.'" And I said, "That sounds like Charlie, all right.”

And Jakobson also suggests this may have happened during his interview by Bugliosi February 20, 1970. Jakobson says he heard about the Crowe shooting from 'Bryan Lukas and Dennis [Wilson]' and didn't believe it until they mentioned Charlie kissing 'the guys feet'. Then he believed it was Manson. But again, no timeframe is given. Audio Archives: Gregg Jakobson Interviewed by Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi 2/20/70, Part 4 at 6:18. 

Could Wilson and Jakobson suddenly severing ties with Manson  actually be the catalyst for Bugliosi's 'revenge' motive? Maybe. 

The problem is: it's the wrong guy.

Bugliosi says the 'target' of the 'revenge' was Melcher. 

If Wilson suddenly in mid-July pulled the plug on his relationship with Manson and killed Manson's career why would Manson blame Melcher who simply didn't make an offer back in May? He wouldn't if revenge was his motive. If revenge for a failed musical career was a motive at all the target should have been Wilson or the Beach Boys and Manson knew where Brian Wilson and Dennis Wilson lived. And that might have been a bigger 'Helter Skelter' hit then Cielo.

Alternatively, why not take it out on Jakobson? He recorded Manson extensively in the spring of '69 and arranged the Melcher visits to Spahn and that had gone nowhere. Somehow that particular 'broken promise' didn't seem to bother Manson-at least Dennis got a bullet.

In my opinion the revenge motive never existed. But that is my opinion.

Postscript: A lot of musicians had contact with Manson 1967-9. One of my favorite bands is Lowell George and Little Feat. And while doing research for this post I found this:

"You can't look at Little Feat, or any artistic entity, for that matter, without looking at the time and place in which the phenomenon occurred. The individuals who would come together to form Little Feat couldn’t help but be affected by such harrowing events as the recent murders of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, the worsening Vietnam situation, and of course the Manson horrors, which literally struck close to home.

"The LaBianca murders happened just a half-mile up from Lowell’s house on Ben Lomond," Payne recalls with a shudder. "I was sleeping in Lowell’s VW van outside his house at the time, and although it was like 100 degrees in there, I didn’t dare open the windows, I was so freaked out. Then, a few months later, up in Isla Vista, some maniac was hacking people up with an ax, right on the beach where I’d been sleeping. That was a weird year, 1969."

Van Dyke Parks tells a related story: "I attempted to write some songs with Lowell, one called ‘Are the Stars Out Tonight?’ We went to a trailer out in Topanga, a teardrop-shaped thing, ovoid, like an Airstream. There was a note on the wall: ‘I'll be right back. – Charlie.’ I said, "Who is that?" He said, ‘Charles Manson.’ And I said, ‘What are we doing here?’ He said, ‘Oh, no, that was several months ago.’"

Little Feat/2000/Bud Scoppa/Rhino Records/The Little Feat Saga

Postscript #2: In the course of researching this post I tried to run down the gold records Manson 'acquired' from Dennis Wilson. Bugliosi says Wilson gave Manson nine or ten. According to Bugliosi Mrs. Arlene Barker received one of the records. And I found one. What happened to it after any sale, I don't know.

(The Oregonian, February 11, 1986) 

Cheryl Spahn died in a terrible car accident in 1991. 

Pax Vobiscum



brownrice said...

Great post & very well researched. Interesting to see Desper's comments... radically different to the usual malarkey about him being freaked-out by Manson's knife-play. Bugliosi always portrays Charlie as this sad, desperate, dangerous wannabe lurking enviously at the edge of Hollywood. It seems though that he pretty much had a seat at the main table until the Crowe shooting. Great to see a coherent timeline of his various recording sessions... and that Neve desk at Sound City is to die for. Cool post.

Unknown said...

Very good stuff! I watched the Sound City documentary. It was fantastic. In the very beginning they show a montage of all the albums made there and I'm quite sure Charlie was shown although I can't remember which albums they put up. I could swear I remember his face among the many record covers they showed...

MelchersPromises said...

Excellent work on the timeline, your homework is to be commended!

One possible mistake (which really have no significant bearing on your blog) are that, the Record Mirror and Rave interviews (published in the May/June time period) - don't really pin down when Dennis made the comments. Firstly, there was usually quite a lag back in those days from when an interview was conducted, to when the article actually hit the public. Weeks/months.....this trend continued even up until the 80s. Further, not unusual to see fan magazines on the stands in April, but with a "Summer 19__" cover date on it to give it longer shelf life. So you don't want to reference a Dennis interview date as matching a publication date. It could have been weeks or months prior.

You've matched the chronology up so well that Dennis' comments, and what date they were made, really don't affect the overall blog. Thumbs up.

David said...


I tried at one point to narrow down when the interviews may have occurred over here:

....using their tour schedule and when they may have been in England.

Not sure I succeeded but FYI

And thank you for the comment.

David said...

Brownrice said: "and that Neve desk at Sound City is to die for."

I admit, I, personally, haven't a clue what it is (other then the obvious) but it appeared to be a big 'draw' at that studio. So I thought some people around here might like that.

And thank you for the comment as well.

You too, Saint.

starviego said...

Charlie was already planning for Helter Skelter by spring of '69, when the bikers were recruited, when the weapons were being collected, when the kill training started, when he started telling his clan that Blackie would need someone to show them how to do it. This makes it even more likely that Melcher and the music connection was not a primary--or even a significant--factor in his motivations.

orwhut said...

I heard George Spahn's granddaughter give an interview,. While explaining how George lived with the Manson girls she casually described George as a dirty old man. Maybe that granddaughter was Cheryl.

StarRider said...

Fantastic post.

Sime's World said...

Excellent piece. This is from an email Bobby Beausoleil sent to me while I was researching "Coming Down Fast". I hope it's of interest.

"I did one session with Charlie, just he and I, at a small studio in Santa Monica in the spring of ‘69. The studio time was arranged with the help of Gregg Jakobson. This was the best one of them all – just Charlie and his acoustic, with me accompanying him on electric guitar."


Simon Wells

Mr. Humphrat said...

Damn another awesome job, David.

prefeteria said...

This post deserves a triple thumbs up. Certainly the music would have been yet more alternate versions of songs we've heard. I wonder if any in-between song banter might have more interest....alas we shall likely never find out.

Chris Till said...

A fine post. A few random comments.

There is a YouTube video of the great L.A. session guitarist Jerry Cole discussing sessions he did of Manson's music. Melcher hired Cole (as well as other Wrecking Crew session players like Hal Blaine, as I recall) to record the musical backing of a handful of Manson songs. After the music was done, Manson added his vocals.

Let's remember that the Mike Deasy mentioned in this post was (and is) a superb session guitarist, who played Elvis' '68 Comeback Special. Whether or not he actually recorded Manson at Spahn Ranch in his mobile studio is, as the post says, unknown. Don't know if it's still online, but Deasy either wrote an essay or was interviewed about his experiences at that attempted session. In short, Deasy had a bad trip. But it's also clear that Melcher hired him to record Manson.

Regarding what other famous musicians besides the Beach Boys that Manson hung around with... Neil Young has mentioned his friendship with Manson in a number of interviews, as well as his memoirs. In short, he liked him. He liked his music and tried to get him signed to Reprise Records. Whether other Buffalo Springfield members knew him is unclear (but supposedly Gypsy Share was a Buffalo Springfield groupie, right?). In a book on my bookshelf (too lazy to get it right now), Denny Doherty of the Mamas & the Papas is quoted such that it seems he had personal knowledge of Manson. In the same book, songwriter Ned Doheny mentions knowing Manson. (Has anybody read the Canned Heat bio in which lead singer Bob Hite talks about knowing Manson? I haven't.) I've got a Tim Buckley biography that includes a story of Buckley knowing where some Manson girls were living.

Instead of recording Manson himself in June 1969-August, Terry Melcher produced the Byrds "Ballad of Easy Rider" album. Coming in second to the Byrds ain't nothing to be ashamed of, right?

Concerning the would-be CBS documentary on Manson that Jacobsen talks about.. Did CBS ever do such a documentary on a commune (not Manson's, of course)? The 1971 counterculture memoirs "Armed Love" features a section involving the Lord Family group marriage commune of Taos circa 1970. Someone in the Lord commune mentions being scouted for a TV documentary circa 1969. Could this have been the same would-be CBS special?

Finally, one of Manson's classic cover tunes is "Close to Me," his English-language version of Carillo's "Sabor a Mi." Does anyone know if Manson wrote, or translated, those words himself?


Lynn said...

Somewhat on topic and related to music. A few months ago we were out in the valley with a friend. He grew up in los Angeles and is very much what you think of when you think laid back, former California hippie. He told me that in the late 60's, early 70's, he bartended at a club in Northridge near CSun (Cal state Northridge). He said the club had been a popular speakeasy in the 40's and the decor reflected velvet wallpaper etc. He said kids would line up to get in. It was The Club to go to near campus. They featured bands and also had a houseband. He said Gary Hinman played in this band. He said he hadn't seen Gary in awhile but not unusual since members were interchangeable. Then he heard Gary was murdered...and the rest is history. Can't remember the name of the club, but it closed in the late 80s, I believe.

Robert C said...

Good work, David. Alludes to how serious Charlie may have been pursuing a music career. I personally don't think he had a dog's chance in hell of being successful in Hollywood but had he been the possibilities are mind boggling -- TLB-Hinman-Crowe-etc. may not have happened, etc.

Unknown said...

Neil Young hung with Manson in his early solo years. After he left the Springfield he moved out to Topanga. They both played the Corral. He met Charlie at Dennis Wilsons. He speaks at length about his experiences with the Family in the biography "Shakey"

Again - this was a great read. Went through it twice!

starviego said...

So, if we eliminate the 'put the fear in Melcher' theory of motive, what are we left with?

Mr. Humphrat said...

Poston, Watkins and Atkins all said Charlie never forgave Melcher for not coming through for him, not showing up to hear them. Despite the great points made in this post I think it goes too far to say you can eliminate 'put the fear in Melcher' as one of the motives. In addition to that was the rejection Charlie supposedly felt associated with his later visit to that house when Tate, Hatami and Altobeli were there.

starviego said...

What visit?

According to Sanders' new book Sharon Tate: A Life, which came out last year. From the comments section on Amazon:

"Among the the few new revelations... is Shahrokh Hatami admitting after all these years that despite what he said at the trial, he had no recollection of Charles Manson ever paying a visit to 10050 Cielo Drive on March 23rd, 1969 and that his saying so was done out of pressure from prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi and Col. Paul Tate's private investigator."

Ajerseydevil said...

Great read anymore information about the cease to exist documentary where can it be seen or purchased thanx

David said...


Just google 'cease to exist documentary'.

However, it was very apparent to me that the video clips of Dennis, Carl and and others are taken completely out of context and were lifted from other Beach Boys' documentaries- and I'm no expert of the Beach Boys. Many of the comments by the 'players' allegedly relating to the Manson-Wilson connection are actually comments about Brian Wilson or Dennis Wilson. The alleged Manson-booth exchange I mentioned above. They also include footage from the TV movie Heater Skelter and 'suggest' it is actual footage of the events- the Spahn Raid, for example. I wouldn't put much stock in the accuracy of the film and frankly wish I had that hour and a half of my life back.

One IMB reviewer comment: "Another, which was a total abomination was taking a quote from an interview in which Dennis was talking about his beloved brother Brian and attributing it to Manson. That part of the actual interview can be seen in "The Beach Boys: An American Band" documentary and I believe also in "Endless Harmony". Talk about selective editing."

David said...

Mr. Humphrat,

I did say it was an opinion and we all know what those are like ;-)

Ajerseydevil said...

Thanks for the information David

Mr. Humphrat said...

David, it's a perfectly good opinion :-)

Starviego said: ... Shahrokh Hatami admitting after all these years that despite what he said at the trial, he had no recollection of Charles Manson ever paying a visit to 10050 Cielo Drive on March 23rd, 1969 and that his saying so was done out of pressure from prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi and Col. Paul Tate's private investigator."

Yes Starviego that's why I said supposedly. I still think it could have happened. And on the next page of the same Sanders book Altobelli told Sanders in an interview for this book that Manson came to the guest house and talked to him the next day looking for Melcher, which gives more possibility that he'd been there the day before I think.

cielodrivecom said...

Hatami didn't say that at trial anyway

starviego said...

I haven't read the trial transcript. Are you saying Hatami didn't mention the visit in his testimony? said...

He testified about the visit, but Hatami never identified it was Manson. Altobelli testified about the visit and did identify Manson. So Bugliosi had the two testify back to back in order to imply that the man Hatami talked to was in fact Manson. said...

Hatami talked about a man matching Manson's general description. However, he talked about a man slightly shorter than himself This is important because Bugliosi seemed to think Manson was 5'2". Manson was not that short. He was around 5'6" or 5'7" which is how tall Hatami was.

starviego said...

So did Hatami EVER claim it was Manson he saw? If not, it would contradict what he allegedly told Sanders as quoted in 'Sharon Tate-A Life.'

David said...

Cielo is correct.

During his testimony Haatami was never asked to ID Manson.

However, there was an offer of proof based on Hatami's previous viewing of photographs where he supposedly picked out Manson- this occurred in the DA's office. During that exchange out of the presence of the jury Hatami did pick out Manson but waffled quite a bit. The judge excluded the photo ID and the jury never heard about it. Frankly, the photo 'line up' was questionable. From what I can tell from the testimony it appears Hatami may have been showed mug shots of family members, BB is mentioned. Manson's photo was from the 'pot arrest' and Hatami never positively ID'd him during the offer of proof.

Manson Mythos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ajerseydevil said...

Sorry for going off topic but just finished reading the latest write up on Manson's back porch about Steve Grogan seems he's married to a Oriental doctor just found that interesting seems he's done pretty well for himself
Scramble head apparently not so much said...

The mugs he was shown were, Manson, Bill Vance, Allen Delisle, Shorty Shea, Paul Watkins, Karate Dave, Bruce Davis, Bobby Beausoleil, Juan Flynn, Larry Bailey and TJ..

This is the photo of Manson, Hatami was shown

David said...

Thanks, Cielo

Unknown said...

Hello David.

That 1st photo of Charles Manson and his Guitar contributed to me remembering 2 "Things" with my personal encounter with Charles Manson.

My question is:

Do you have an approximate date when that photo was taken?


Mario George Nitrini 111
The OJ Simpson Case

David said...


Haven't a clue. I screen captured it from the 'Cease to Exist' documentary....they say it is Manson at Wilson's home which would put it in the spring-summer '68...I think. But as I said, above, I would not rely on that doc.. Perhaps someone else knows.

And thank you MM for the Silverhawk- Silverhorn add.

Unknown said...

Thanks David. That Helps.


Great Post.......

Mario George Nitrini 111
The OJ Simpson Case

David said...

You are welcome and thank you.

lurch said...

Ive heard that Dr. Demento actually has a Siverhorn single.
There's some info as well as a pic of the label in the updated version of The Manson File.

Rock N. Roll said...

Anyone know more about the Lowell George Little Feat connection?

Sime's World said...

Not sure where this fits within the detailed article - but RCA studios at 6363 Sunset Boulevard is the address for this session - if indeed the memory is served correctly.

JWD said...

Great post. It's obvious from the Inside the Manson Gang documentary that the Family had put a lot of effort into the music. It wasn't just a Charlie solo thing.

grimtraveller said...

JWD said...

It's obvious from the Inside the Manson Gang documentary that the Family had put a lot of effort into the music. It wasn't just a Charlie solo thing

That's an interesting take on the notion of the solo artist. Because if you think about it, when we think of the solo artist {eg, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Suzanne Vega, Joan Armatrading, Chuck Berry or whoever}, we rarely think of the contribution made to the songs we know and love by the musicians in the band, yet more often than not, the solo artist brings the song in skeleton form but the band add their own parts and it's often those parts that remain in the memory when thinking of those songs. For example, it's Klaus Voorman that's responsible for the bass rumble at the start of "You're so vain" but we think of it as a Carly Simon song. When we hear some of David Bowie's work, we think of him but we wouldn't think of the extent to which say, Woody Woodmansey, Mick Ronson and Trevor Bolder made those songs what they became.
With Charlie's music, it's not entirely clear from the documentaries how much was from Charlie and how much was from the Family because he was in custody so anything they worked on would seem to have come from them. It's mainly the classical and soundtrack composers that can be said to have been responsible for every note of every instrument in a piece.

justice_4_all2010 said...

WOW...I've read about some of these recording studios from Brion Wilson's book, and it is a pleasure to see some of the photos of them in the day he wrote about...excellent research David.
I can't remember if Charlie was actually at Brion's house...I know this was the time when Brion Wilson was suffering sever depression and stayed in his room...for years!
I remember reading that Carl Wilson Produced the hit "I Can Hear Music" at Brion's home studio as Brion Listened from above, in his room. And seem to remember him mentioning Charlie Manson, but that could be a false memory, or Brion's elaboration after the fact.

justice_4_all2010 said...

Off subject but I read something on this blog about Jay studying Martial Arts...I'd like to comment on this but I know i would risk being called an "Internet tough guy" as had happened in the past.
I will say this in regards to that...going to a Martial Arts school for a few months or years does not make one a Martial art's fighter.. lot more involved. I know of three mistakes Jay made, and the first one is he underestimated his enemy.

justice_4_all2010 said...

In regards to this post...Had nothing to do with music or Charlies ability...Charlie is a born Psychopath. Charlies own cousins spoke about him chasing them with knives at a very young age. After reading several books by John Douglas, the FBI profiler and my experience with life, I believe they are born that way and need to be removed from our society as soon as possible as they always move from petty crimes to murder...all of them. they lack empathy.

There is a difference from being a stand-up tough guy and a physco...

Zelda Formaldehyde said...

Great original post and discussion. As a music freak, I was always fascinated by Charlie's attempts to get his songs down and the people who recorded them and encouraged him. In the end, his anger at not having having his music released was one facit of rage that eventually consumed him. In truth, I think it's very likely that people like Desper worked briefly with many hopers like Charlie; marginal talents who just didn't have the goods to make it as a recording artist and simply disappeared into the dust. Charlie was the sociopathic exception.

grimtraveller said...

justice_4_all2010 said...

Charlie is a born Psychopath. Charlies own cousins spoke about him chasing them with knives at a very young age

That doesn't mean much, if anything at all. After all, he never did anything to his cousins with those knives, did he ? There are loads of kids and young people who carry knives and when asked why, say that it's for their own protection. But if push comes to shove, they'd use them. Doesn't make them psychopathic.

I believe they are born that way and need to be removed from our society as soon as possible

Having heard some of your tales in the past, I suspect that there are many that would say exactly the same about you.

starviego said...

So did Hatami EVER claim it was Manson he saw? If not, it would contradict what he allegedly told Sanders as quoted in 'Sharon Tate-A Life.'

Actually, Hatami is entirely consistent from 1970 right the way through to Sanders' book. As was pointed out last year in the thread about Ed's book, if you read "Helter Skelter" and the section about Hatami, nowhere does Hatami ever say it was Manson. But what is really eerie when looked at now, is the way Bugliosi in describing his initial chat with Hatami, jumps from having nothing concrete connecting Charlie to the incident to concluding, within a few sentences, that it was Charlie. Now, we have Altobelli stating positively that he saw Charlie and he also states that Charlie said the people in the main house had sent him back to the guest house. But this was in the evening while the Hatami incident was in the afternoon.
I felt, even back last year, that Ed was trying to make the most out of the least but that's kind of what Vincent T had done. It brings home just how much we can fill in in our minds that just is not there when we read something or hear something. Have you ever done that thing where you haven't heard a song for a while and you start to fill in instrumental lines and when you eventually hear the piece, it's not as you thought and you realize you've added and ossified what actually is not there ?

starviego said...

" realize you've added and ossified what actually is not there?"

Ossified? No. My imagined version is always better than the original.

justice_4_all2010 said...

"That doesn't mean much, if anything at all. After all, he never did anything to his cousins with those knives, did he ? There are loads of kids and young people who carry knives and when asked why, say that it's for their own protection. But if push comes to shove, they'd use them. Doesn't make them psychopathic."

I strongly disagree regarding Charlie! Look at the pattern of his life after, he had a decent job during his first marriage but decided to quit and start robbing again and continued through out his life...prison was not a deterrent. There is a reason many states here in the U.S have three strike laws, they have studied such behaviors and know these type of people never change and always Charlie, Richard Allen Davis, and an assortment of others have done.

Look at how Charlie wanted the three girls to fry to set him free, absolutely no empathy for the people close to him, people he claimed to love and care for.

justice_4_all2010 said...

"Having heard some of your tales in the past, I suspect that there are many that would say exactly the same about you"

LOL...why? because I disagree with Leslie Van Houten and the others being released. There is a difference between psychopathic behavior and ones willingness to protect themselves and family

Your comment leads to the allusion that every war veteran is a psycho in your eyes...though some are, most all soldiers kill for self preservation.

There is a saying that goes like this, "For good people to do horrific things...That takes religion." And Charlie used religion for his own means, like Jim Jones and the many other psycho religious leaders throughout history.

grimtraveller said...

justice_4_all2010 said...

There is a difference between psychopathic behavior and ones willingness to protect themselves and family

Sometimes there is ! It often depends on who is doing the justifying....

Your comment leads to the allusion that every war veteran is a psycho in your eyes

No it doesn't. But some are, as you yourself recognize.

There is a saying that goes like this, "For good people to do horrific things...That takes religion."

You sound remarkably like someone that went by the name last year on Cielo's site of MeMyself, even down to the exact quote about good people, bad things and religion. I suspect you are that person because of this quote ¬>why? because I disagree with Leslie Van Houten and the others being released....I never mentioned Leslie in my comment on your words and neither did you. But MeMyself and I {I went by the name of Fred Bloggs} had a lengthy discourse on Leslie a year ago and some of your perspective could leave some people concluding that you shouldn't be out roaming with the rest of society, particularly in regards to what MeMyself claimed to have done with the peeping Tom and their justifications. If it is you, that is. If not, my apologies, you sound remarkably like the person. Incidentally, either way, I really enjoyed the conversation, it gave me food for thought and I like the civility in which it was conducted.

Manson Mythos said...

Desper has given two conflicting the way. His talking about getting alone with Charlie and not feeling threatened is vastly different from his other tales.

He said years ago, that at one point, he had phoned Nick Grillo (owner of Brother Recordings) and told him Charlie freaked him out and that he could find somebody else to record him. Right after Manson was arrested, he said Grillo called him and demanded the tapes be brought to him to be put in a vault. Wilson said, the recordings he did with him were destroyed....or so Bugliosi said Wilson said that.

David said...

Thank you all for the kind comments and another thank you to those who added to the post: Simon, Christ Till ad Manson Mythos and anyone I forgot.

David said...

That would be 'Chris' and 'and'

justice_4_all2010 said...

"But MeMyself and I {I went by the name of Fred Bloggs} had a lengthy discourse on Leslie a year ago and some of your perspective could leave some people concluding that you shouldn't be out roaming with the rest of society, particularly in regards to what MeMyself claimed to have done with the peeping Tom and their justifications."

It is I...and you Mr grimtravler need to read what Mr John Douglas says about Peeping toms in his FBI profiler is not to be taken lightly. And the man i caught did go to prison years later for actually entering a woman's home and trying to rape her. he escalated as Douglas said such people do.

So your saying I'm a psycho for protecting my of them 12yrs old. I'm guessing I should have waited Like Jay did..than been shot, maybe my sisters raped or killed.

My respect for you is gone...your nothing more than a couch potato, willing to cower in a corner as a lethal intruder inters your home, jeopardizing your family. As I am willing to go out into the night and confront such people, and long before i studied the martial arts.

I'll leave you with this...Jay studied Martial Arts with Bruce lee, a terrific athlete and street fighter before he studied the arts...what if Bruce Lee was in the bedroom with Sharon...I can assure you knife wielding Atkins would have been dead in 30 seconds, than the other bitch Krenwinkle would have died next as she ran down the hall to see what was up...The coward Tex Watson would have shot Frykowski than ran like hell. Most likely Frykowski would have survived.

By the next day the cops would have descended upon the ranch and arrested many more lives would have been saved?

Of course "IF" is a very big word

justice_4_all2010 said...

And BTW...I did not kill that peeping Tom though I could have since he fought me back...It is because I have Empathy

grimtraveller said...

justice_4_all2010 said...

And BTW...I did not kill that peeping Tom though I could have since he fought me back

This is what you said about the incident..."we had a peeping-tom problem. I caught two of them at different times to peep on a different sister, called the police on each and went to court. Each one received a slap on the hand for their deeds.

The next one about a year later, I played differently; I turned on no outside lights to announce my discovery of him and quietly slipped into the darkness with him. I silently searched the area and discovered him perched on a fence pole under the girl’s second floor room looking in, it was after midnight. In the large bedroom were my 17, 15, and 11 year old baby sister.
I watched for a second and when he made a motion as if he was trying to push the window open, I dropped the baseball bat I was carrying and attacked him, knocking him from the fence pole and proceeded to beat him until he was unconscious…than we called the police, the outside disturbance awoke my family and a neighbor.
Why the extreme violence? I knew by then that these types of people do not fear the police; they bail out and go about their despicable ways. I wanted him to fear me, I wanted word to get out NOT to peep at THAT house…and it worked. We had not had a peeping problem on our block for years after.

Also…this same local kid (he was 18 at the time, I was 22) eventually went to prison for breaking and entering, assault and attempted rape… he escalated his petty crimes as FBI profiler John Douglas would years later write in his books. Peeping is no small matter.

Now I would not use such violence on just anybody, nor for some ridicules reason as Helter Skelter…But as they say in Texas, 'Some people just need killin!'
If a serial rapist was paroled and moved next to me I would find a way to remove him, and even go as far as to start a fight and make it look like his fault. They are a menace to society and cannot change…it is in their nature.

Nothing about the guy fighting back.
And you really ought to go and read again what I replied to that story before you put words in my mouth and ascribe to me conclusions I have not reached. I stand by everything I said in my reply then.

My respect for you is gone

Boo hoo !
Does that mean I don't get the gold clock ?

CrisPOA said...

So Manson smelled that bad... i imagined him with cheap deodorants but at least a clean person - i really didn't get it hahahaha

grimtraveller said...

Pheromones are pheromones and the number of women Charlie had proves they were doing their job !

Mr. Humphrat said...

I can picture Charlie stinking. We've already heard that the girls stank, so they would maybe smell normal to each other. Adding a stink to his strong psychological presence makes for an even more challenging deal for outsiders. I'm picturing him in some of the situations where he was in close contact with people like Melcher and Candace Bergen and I wonder how they dealt with it (the stink) Maybe he didn't always stink. I wonder if he even enjoyed testing outsiders to see their reaction to his smell.
BTW I looked up Lowell George and was surprised he was briefly in the Mother's of Invention in 68-69. Maybe that's when he met Manson. I know Zappa did.

David said...

Thanks Mr. Humphrat for the Lowell George info.

I have always wondered what people knew ( or suspected when). For example that comment, the 'Lance Fairweather' quote about Crowe and even the Desper comments all suggest early knowledge of something- pre arrest. Why would the comment be 'let's get out of here' if Manson was in jail- meaning the the story had broken. Before October '69 why be scared? And after the boogeyman is locked up.

Of course it could all just be 20-20 hindsight.

J Pinnacle said...

This has been an interesting thread and I'm glad I've found it. I have recently been working along a similar line as the author, looking into the musical endeavors of Charlie and the family and trying to piece the various sessions together. I'll share what little information I have so far, as well as some hypotheses.

First, I agree that the UNi Records/Stromberg sessions are what's heard on the Psychedelic Soul release, and that the man in the booth is most likely Stromberg. Sep. 11, 1967 seems to be the confirmed date for that.

Interestingly, if you listen to the version of "Look at Your Game, Girl" from those sessions, the song is missing its chorus. This would indicate to me that Charlie had yet to complete the song at this point, and as such the earlier June 1967 date attributed to the more commonly heard version of "Game" would have to be incorrect.

Likewise, "Eyes of a Dreamer" was also supposedly from the June '67 session according to Wiki. But in Paul Watkins' book, he mentions Charlie singing "a song he'd just written" to him shortly after he and Charlie returned to Spahn's in February of '69. The song was "Eyes of a Dreamer", which Watkins goes on to call "a fast moving ballad... one we would later record on our album".

The fact that we have a nascent version of "Game" dating from September of '67, as well as Watkins' statement (and his timeline as written in his book seems quite accurate otherwise) that "Game" was a brand new song as of February '69, makes me highly suspicious that either song was cut as early as June 1967. Unless someone can prove Charlie was even in L.A. that June, my theory is that somebody pulled that date out of their ass, and that Manson was not in a recording studio prior to the September 11 Stromberg session.

The 08/08/68 Gold Star session in an interesting one. Gold Star, as stated, was a world-class facility favored by Phil Spector, the Beach Boys, the Buffalo Springfield and most of the other top Hollywood bands of the era. As such, I'm going to guess that this was the session Jerry Cole recounted in his interview that utilized the "Wrecking Crew" studio musicians, and where Charlie simply added his vocals over their backing tracks, as was common at the time.

J Pinnacle said...

The Brian Wilson home studio session is likely from summer 1969 as well. Apart from engineer Stephen Desper's comments that it was prior to "the events in the follow (sic) weeks", there is another clue here: Desper vividly describes "the smell of this un-kept and un-washed human".

Watkins again: "People have been led to believe that the Manson Family was “dirty and
unkempt,” but this was not the case. Up until the summer of 1969, Charlie demanded
good personal hygiene, and that clothes, food, musical instruments – everything – be
kept orderly. But living at Spahn’s like commandos made it impossible to maintain these

So it seems very likely to me that, had this session occurred in summer of '68 while Charlie had been living at Dennis's and had access to showers and a swimming pool, he would not be unkempt and unwashed upon entering a recording studio where he was trying to make a positive impression.

However, I'd put forth the possibility that the Desper-engineered session in 1969, *might* not have been the only session that took place at Brian Wilson's home studio. Here's Watkins one more time, describing his impressions of Dennis Wilson upon meeting him in August of '68:

"Because Dennis liked Charlie's music, he was willing to help him and arranged for the Family to hold recording sessions in his brother Brian's Beverly Hills studio."

Later, while the Family is staying in Canoga Park: "Through Dennis and Greg we lined up
recording sessions at Brian Wilson’s studio. But none of them went well."

Notice the use of the plural "sessions", as well as the mention of "we" and "the Family" recording, as opposed to just Charlie solo as Desper described. Could there have been earlier sessions recorded at Brian's studio without Desper's involvement? I believe it's certainly conceivable given this quote.

The 1969 sessions in Van Nuys (Sound City) and Wilder Brothers (Santa Monica) are perhaps even harder to get a bead on, but let's try.

There's at least one relevant quote concerning each. Watkins on the Sound City session ("once again we took our group to a studio for a recording session in the valley, but things fell apart; Charlie got pissed off at the technicians and we split.") and Bobby on the Wilder Brothers one ("I did one session with Charlie, just he and I, at a small studio in Santa Monica in the spring of ‘69. The studio time was arranged with the help of Gregg Jakobson. This was the best one of them all – just Charlie and his acoustic, with me accompanying him on electric guitar.")

So this at least tells us that the Van Nuys session was for the whole family ("we took our group"), while the Santa Monica session was just Manson and Beausoliel.

Now comes the fun part: analyzing the "Lie" tracks to see what stems from what.

"Big Iron Door" and "Sick City" are excerpts from the 9/11/67 UNi Records/Stromberg session. No mystery there.

"Ego" and "Mechanical Man" seem to be the only ones to feature the entire Family, including Brooks on sitar and Gypsy on violin. I'm guessing these are from Sound City.

J Pinnacle said...

After this it gets murky, but bear with me...

"Cease to Exist", "Don't Do Anything Illegal", "Arkansas" and "Garbage Dump" feature just Charlie playing electric rhythm guitar alongside Bobby's signature lead guitar noodling. I'd almost certainly think these were the Wilder Brother sessions Beausoliel describes, except that there is also a female backing vocals ensemble present. Also complicating matters is the fact that I detect the presence of reverb on Charlie's vocals on the first two tracks, while the second two are recorded "dry".

I don't know if I can make a judgement here. These could have been cut by Charlie and Bobby at Wilder Brothers and the backing vocals overdubbed at a later date, or maybe what Bobby meant by his quote is that it was just he and Charlie *instrumentally*. Alternately, maybe these tracks were recorded at Brian's place, although the presence of reverb on the first two tracks would seem to negate that. (I remember a story that the Beach Boys were forced to sing in Brian's swimming pool to achieve a reverb sound.)

Moving on: "People Say I'm No Good", "Who to Blame", "I Once Knew a Man" and "Home Is Where You're Happy" feature Charlie on acoustic rhythm guitar and dry vocals, backed by an unknown percussionist playing a tabla or some kind of hand drum. There are no backing vocals I can detect except for a brief solo wordless female vocal harmony during "I Once Knew a Man". I could easily see these tracks being recorded at Brian's home studio, perhaps even with Dennis on percussion, but of course that's just a hypothesis.

"Look at Your Game Girl" and "Eyes of a Dreamer" are outliers. "Game" is Charlie unaccompanied, while "Dreamer" features just an acoustic lead guitar riffing underneath. Maybe a second musician played it, but it could just as easily been overdubbed by Manson himself. If I had to guess, I'd say that these *could* be from the Desper sessions, but if the tape was locked away in a vault and never touched as Desper claims, then perhaps not.

"Struggle" and "I'll Never Say Never to Always"-- maybe from the Mike Deasy sessions? "Never Say Never" definitely has reverb added, but what that means I couldn't tell you.

At any rate, I'm posting this here just to see if this information can be helpful to anyone that's interested. It would be really cool to eventually track down all the proper session info, or at least I think so!

David said...

J Pinnacle,

Interesting stuff. One comment- I recall reading/hearing that Manson thought Stromberg ruined his songs (can't remember where). The Gold Star sessions being session musicians might support you. Bringing in a bunch of session guys with little to go by except a few cords Their own skill and whatever the booth was saying) might have led to a sound Manson thought 'ruined' his music. Speculation of course.

Mr. Humphrat said...

Thanks for your information Pinnacle

JWD said...

Good posts J Pinnacle.

J Pinnacle said...

David, thank you for your response. I had forgotten about that quote ("Stromberg ruined my music" or words to that effect). The three-hour session captured on the Psychedelic Soul bootleg doesn't seem to fit that description; it sounds more like an audition than a serious attempt at laying down tracks, so it's hard to see how those off-the-cuff performances could be "destroyed" when they weren't releasable to begin with. The Gold Star session in '68 seems much more likely to fit that quote, since as you say, the addition of backing musicians would likely qualify as destructive in Charlie's mind.

Then again, Manson's own accounts have plenty of obvious mistakes, such as his repeated references to Neil Young as "Neil Diamond". I'm afraid too many of the details have been obscured by time, and those few of us interested might never get to the bottom of Manson's recording history.

One last ditch effort might be for somebody to contact AFM (American Federation of Musicians) Local 47 in Los Angeles, and ask the archiver there to locate copies of session logs credited to Charles Manson or the Manson Family. Music researchers have long used "AFM sheets" to try and clear up questionable recording dates. This wouldn't help with the Wilson home sessions of course, but at least it would be possible to see what songs were recorded in the various studios, as well as who the other musicians, producers, etc. were on each session.

Mr. Humphrat-- sure thing! ;)

David said...

J Pinnacle,

I may give that a try. Thanks.

David said...

Then again, maybe not. It appears the exact information we would be searching for is the information they need to do the research.

"At present, our archives are currently not staffed. Research is available on an extremely limited basis.

Fees: $30/hour with a three-hour minimum

Payment must be received prior to research. Local 47 members receive up to one hour of complimentary consultation time to determine the extent of effort necessary to fulfill your request.

When making requests for document research, the Archive Department needs as much information as possible about your requested item for the inquiry to be successful. The following information is required when requesting a document:

Year of event/show
Air date
Leader of session
Song title

Anonymous said...

The time frame that Desper is claiming doesn't make much sense.

"Never Learn Not to Love" ("Cease to Exist") came out in 1968.

Quoting Desper :

"[Never Learn Not To Love] was a fair trade for the outline of a song that Manson recorded at the Beach Boy's expense, in their studio."

“Manson only had a song with basic chords on the guitar and a melody lead line. It was the 'Boys who took that basic concept and turned it into a real commercial tune. All the added vocal arrangement throughout the entire song was created by Brian and Carl. Manson was only in the studio one evening, by himself and his silent girls. He never conferred or worked in any way with the group.”

All of that had to happen in 1968, unless they had access to a time machine.

J Pinnacle said...

Hi David, that's too bad about the AFM. You're right, if we had all the info they needed to go after those sheets, we wouldn't need them in the first place!

Of course it occurred to me after posting that Charlie probably wouldn't have gone through the trouble of joining the AFM in the first place, so the session might well have been "off the books", so to speak.

Ziggyosterberg, thanks for finding that Desper quote. It definitely points things back towards 1968, which somewhat contradicts his prior quote of "the events of the follow weeks" and muddies the water even further. Hmmm...

Interestingly enough, I found myself re-reading the June 25, 1970 Rolling Stone article yesterday, and there were an abundance of clues within. I'd highly recommend anybody interested in Charlie's brief recording career go back and at least read the interview segments with Phil Kaufman, Gary Stromberg and Gregg Jakobson, but I'll attempt to pull some of the more pertinent info and post it here for everyone.

For starters there is a brief bit of dialog copied verbatim of Charlie doing his "if someone beats you with a whip and you love the whip" rap that is credited in the article as being from "Gary Stromberg's tape of Manson". Since this is on Psychedelic Soul, I think we can close the book once and for all that the material on that bootleg is indeed the Stromberg/Universal sessions. Phew.

In the Manson interview segment, the author asks him about the music on the Lie album. Manson responds: "All the good music was stolen. What's there is a couple of years old."

Phil Kaufman: "(Stromberg/Universal) did record him. He went in and did three hours of tapes, and they wanted him to do some more but he just split one day... He showed up a year later in another studio, but after he recorded, he split again and never signed anything."

Gregg Jakobson: "And then in January or February of 1969, eight or nine months after I met him, we started recording him. Charlie was living at the ranch at that time, and Dennis and I fooled around recording him over at Brian Wilson's house. As you know, Brian has this studio in his house. But Charlie couldn't make it with those people. They're too stiff for him."

Jakobson, again: "Sometime later I started recording Charlie at a little studio here called Wilder Studio."

Also earlier in the article the author possibly confirms that Manson was never part of the AFM: "Shortly after Manson's arrest, the musicians' local in Los Angeles wrote the Times and said flatly that he had checked his union's records and that Manson definitely was not a musician."

At any rate, just putting these little bits of info out there, so that possibly someone can take the ball and run with it. Either way it's been a fun conversation.

David said...

Pinnacle, Ziggy,

I'll take one last shot at trying to defend Desper's 'few weeks before the murders' comment.

I too saw the Never Learn Not to Love quote. In fact, this post originally said the 'few weeks' comment was wrong. Then he confirmed it. But, the two interviews with the British magazines tipped the scale for me. I understand that interviews don't necessarily show up within 'days'. But there still has to be the opportunity for the interview. I tried to cover that here:

Based upon Wilson's presence in England the interviews almost have to be from May 1969. Especially the Goddard interview which is 'after' the December 1968 'I Live With 17 Girls' interview by Goddard- it is a follow up interview.

In those interviews Wilson speaks of Manson in the 'present tense' and mentions his possible appearance on Brother Records- an odd thing to talk about if the Wilson-Manson connection was severed a year prior and the recording was done before that.

Next- the official narrative says Manson and Wilson split in August '68 but Never Learn Not to Love was recorded in September '68 again, after the split that allegedly was partially motivated by that recording- only it hadn't happened yet- you need that time machine there too.

Then there is the bullet visit, which is variously described as late August or September '69. To me it doesn't make sense that Manson would go looking for Wilson a year after they allegedly split.

So I don't think this comment means Manson was 'in studio' recording around the time of Never Learn Not to Love: "Manson was only in the studio one evening, by himself and his silent girls. He never conferred or worked in any way with the group."

Then again, that's one big reason I asked Desper if I could interview him.

J Pinnacle said...

Nice job of research there, David. I will say I'm still not entirely convinced that the second and third interview originate from the 1969 European Beach Boys' tour, but I remain open-minded either way.

The evidence for two separate interviews, if you want to call it that, is the mention of the gig in Berlin where Dennis yelled at the backing musicians; but the problem with that is that the Berlin gig was on June 14th, and yet is being addressed in the May issue of RAVE. When you consider that periodicals are often released a few weeks in advance, it's possible the May, 1969 issue of RAVE could have been on the shelves as early as April, well over a month prior to June 14.

I would argue it *might* be more likely that the author or Dennis is either confusing Berlin with Munich or Dusseldorf (both stops on the Dec. '68 Euro tour), or that there was also a Berlin gig on that 1968 tour that just hasn't turned up on the Bellagio site. I can envision a scenario where the author simply divided up a long-form interview into three parts and capitalized by selling the latter two segments when the Beach Boys returned to Europe. This is just a guess, though.

However, I remain convinced that you are right about your overarching point that Dennis's relationship with Manson continued on until at least early 1969. There's actually some evidence for this apart from the Record Mirror and RAVE articles:

* Jakobson mentioning he and Dennis arranging for Charlie to record at Brian Wilson's studio in "January or February of 1969".

* Paul Watkins in his book stating that Charlie took two trips from Death Valley to L.A. to meet with Dennis and Gregg regarding a recording session, one in November of '68 and one on January 2, 1969.

* Most damningly, Dennis HIMSELF stating that he and the Family were actually forced to flee the house on Sunset TOGETHER due to pressure from nosy onlookers and the police, and that Dennis was actually living at Spahn's for some time after August! (Not to mention, apparently accompanying the Family to Death Valley in early December.)

J Pinnacle said...

I think the most likely scenario is this: Rather than completely cutting ties with Manson in August '68 as the common narrative goes, Dennis followed the Family out to Spahn's and spent at least part of his time living there between his commitments in L.A. and on tour. In December it's also likely he at least visited the Family at Barker's ranch (or "lived there" as he states in one article) before departing on tour. While he's away, "Never Learn Not to Love" is released, and Charlie is angered by the change in lyrics.

Upon returning to California, Dennis potentially encounters Charlie somewhere and learns that Charlie is upset and wants money for his song that he did not receive credit for. (Also, numerous eyewitnesses point to December '68 as the point where Manson started to become outwardly scary in appearance.) Dennis by this point has probably had enough, but nevertheless sets up Charlie with some studio time at Brian's in February in an effort to assuage him.

After that didn't work out, it's likely to me that Dennis had had enough and pawns Charlie off on his friend Gregg Jakobson. (Could this be when the bullet incident occurred?) Jakobson takes Charlie to Wilder Bros. studios where Charlie upsets the engineer in charge and gives away his guitars. Now realizing that Charlie and recording studios are not a workable match, Jakobson cultivates the idea to do a field recording of the Family and enlists Terry Melcher.

In late May, Jakobson and Melcher head down to the ranch to meet with Manson. They then return on June 3 with Mike Deasy and his mobile unit. The meeting goes badly when they witness Charlie assault a ranch hand, and Melcher and Jakobson split. Deasy remains behind, gets dosed, starts a fight with Tex and Bruce and then escapes with his life two days later after receiving a heavy beatdown. By this point Charlie is now considered bad news in Hollywood circles, and any shot he had at a music career is now finito.

Does all this sound plausible to you?

Unknown said...

I can tell you for a fact that Charlie recorded the Silverhorn 45 with Phil at Brian's house in 1968. This 45 was only put out to a couple of people. The one copy that I thought to exist was in the hands of Dr. Demento as stated above. I spoke with (Barrett) aka Dr. Demento about this release in 2015, he had indicated that he got rid of his copy in 2013 to an undisclosed source. This is the ONLY copy of this 45 that I know to exist. Attempts were made to discuss with Phil, but to no avail due to his health situation. The Silverhorn single was indeed confirmed by Charles in 2013 and was also confirmed that this was recorded in 1968 at Brian Wilsons home studio.

TheLatch said...

An old post, but I wanted to comment. Manson was fastidious about his (and the girls) hygiene. In fact, up until he died, he was actually well pretty well groomed and practiced good personal hygiene, according to visitors and reporters. What those people are likely smelling are the effects on the body from taking LSD. Those who have ever tripped or been around people taking acid knows there's often a fairly powerful smell. I'm not going to look up what causes it but it's pretty common and well known among druggies.

PaulH said...

David. That color screen-cap photo of Manson playing the guitar is very interesting. I've seen that photo in a documentary (where they said it was taken at Brian Wilson's house). But I can't remember which documentary. (I've seen so many.) Do you remember the documentary that photo was shown in? I assume you got it from there. THANKS SO MUCH. Paul

PaulH said...

Hey David. I've seen that color photo of Charles Manson playing the guitar in a documentary, but I can't remember which one. Do you remember where you got that screen-cap photo from?
In the documentary, they said the photo was taken at Dennis Wilson's house. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

A person of inconsequential existence said...

Lurch, do you have a copy of that book? Can you send me a pic of the label & whatever info it has in there about the Silverhorn 7”? I would really appreciate it. I’ve been looking for that record or even just a picture of it for 20+ years and haven’t ever been able to locate it.
My email is :