"If ones motives are wrong, nothing can be right."
- G.W. Carter
"Revenge is never the best driver for a battle, but a common one."
- Janet Morris
Stephen Kay questioning Greg Jakobson in the Trial "People versus Charles Watson"
Kay: Did Mr. Melcher ever record or Film Mr. Manson?
Kay: And did Mr. Manson want to be recorded by Mr. Melcher?
Kay: Was MR. Manson...did he appear to you to be upset that Mr. Melcher did not want to record him?
Kay: Mr. Manson wanted pretty badly to be recorded, didn't he?
Jakobson: He was really pushing yes.
So, How far would you go to get revenge?
Do you think you could ever get to the point where you would kill somebody? Order someone to be killed? If you are like me, it would probably take a deliberate act of violence against yourself or family, to make you even consider going that far. Even then, I doubt I could do something that severe to another human being. I would most likely spend the rest of my life imagining the cool and bad-ass ways I would get even, while doing nothing in reality of any consequence. I am a big dreamer when it comes to being a tough-guy. But, it keeps me out of trouble lol. I like it that way. Others find their own bad-ass ways to get revenge without turning to violence. Take Doris Tate for example. She made sure that life stayed as difficult as possible for the people who did her wrong. Doris followed the rules to help make some new rules that really stuck it to the people who...Well, maybe that was a bad choice of words.
But, Doris really did some very admirable work to make sure she got her chance to be heard on behalf of her daughter. It has been offered, from time to time, that Doris lost her daughter as a result of Charles Manson seeking his revenge for being snubbed by people in the music industry. I personally never really thought much about it at first. I read and listened to so much information when I first got interested in this, and objectively- Helter Skelter was the one motive that had the most evidence to back it up. I have laid out as thoroughly as I could over the years why I have seen MORE evidence for H/S than any other motive. I am not 100% sold on H/S either, but using the test of Circumstantial, Physical, and Testimonial evidence, I have been able to lay out more specific examples for H/S than any other motive. It is what it is. However, after all these years I am still not able to feel any more confident in Helter Skelter either. And today, there is one other motive outside of Helter Skelter that I am willing to, at least, consider. I have seen almost nothing of serious consequence to support the drug-burn theory, and despite George Stimson's best effort- "Get a brother out of jail" is still not doing it for me either. I have, however, read some testimonial evidence over the years for the Music Snub Revenge motive. When I read my very first post on the "Only Official TLB Blog" written by Col- I became submerged in this case. I felt strongly for the first few years that the "Real Truth" was buried somewhere in the music connections in Laurel Canyon. I was never able to prove it. I did stumble across a few things here and there though, as I came to realize Helter Skelter was much more likely. But the Music thing always stuck with me. So- Today, I will go there.
It is not too hard to imagine that Charlie could order someone to be killed as an act of revenge- just think of Shorty. Again, I am not sure I really believe revenge was the motive for the Tate Killings. But, I have often said that we cannot say for sure what the motive wasn't- until we know for sure what the motive was. So, keeping that in mind, let's take a look...
"Now life was one big party. Rock musicians and hopeful singers like Charlie, actors and hopeful actors, girls who didn't do anything, Producers like Terry Melcher, talent people, Managers like Gregg Jakobson, and star's children would all come over to the house and it would be a drug circus"
- Tex Watson ("Will You Die For Me")
"We just hung out. He played some songs for me, sittin' in Will Rogers old house, on Sunset Boulevard. Dennis had the house there. And I visited Dennis a couple of times. Charlie was always there. I think I met him two maybe three times."
- Neil Young ( Shakey Biography by Jimmy Mc Donough)
I guess these were the "Salad days" for Charlie. He was still considered a charming and interesting guy, and he was still accepted and even given deference among some pretty glitzy cliques. That must have felt pretty damn good while it lasted. We have all heard the stories of the people Charlie was associating on in his earliest days in L.A. Giving Deana Martin a ring. charging Didi Lansbury's credit cards. When you are allowed to run in these circles you can start to imagine a life that is very far away from the streets of West Virginia, Kentucky, or Ohio, Charlie had come from. And come-on, as much fun as living in a tricked-out bus, or playing camp-out at Spahn ranch was- I am sure that getting ready for parties in the Hollywood Hills by taking warm showers in plenty of luxurious clean space, and changing into sharp new clothes, was pretty exhilarating for Charlie in a way he just was not normally accustomed to. I think that Manson was probably thinking that he had found his way to a life beyond his wildest dreams. Imagine going from Terminal Island to the precipice of the Hollywood big-time...
Only to have it all fall apart. Because, as we all know. Charlie and his clan of free-loaders would wear out there welcome at the Wilson residence fairly quickly. And then Charlie's lack of talent, and over the top behavior, would cause everyone who had been willing to give him a chance to run as far away from him as they could get. These are the facts. And as we also know, things then started to get ugly. Real Ugly. Now, I am not saying that I can prove for sure that this change of his social status was the reason that caused Charlie to start ordering people to kill. But I am pointing out that, starting around the time when the music dreams were ending, the overall desperation started accelerating. For Charlie the dreams of living the high life were giving way to the reality of a bare existence on old dilapidated ranches at Spahn and Barker. Hinman, Crowe, all those events starting happening out of desperation for money. Prior to his disassociation with music industry people, that desperation did not exist. The end of the idea of Melcher delivering the big-time came immediately prior of the escalation violence in the Family chronological history. (Below is a hastily put together timeline that is close enough to make my point)
April/May of 68- Dennis picks up Ella-Jo and Pat hitchhiking. Within 24 hours a sizeable portion of the Family would move in.
August 8/9 of 68- One year to the day of TLB- Charlie is recording at Gold Star Studio on Dennis' dime, and following it up doing overdubs with Dennis the next day at a smaller studio in Van Nuys.
Now it is during these recordings that Charlie first starts to play with knives, act sort of scary, and sing weird lyrics. In short, he finally starts to show the "Beautiful people" who he really is. At the same time, he has started to take a serious toll on Dennis Financially. So much so, that by the early part of fall-Charlie's life of luxury starts to fall apart....
Fall of 68- ( Very busy few months for our purposes) Family sets up permanent camps at first Spahn in late August, and then Barker by November. Also in early part of fall, Dennis has abandoned house on Sunset, and Family are chased out by his manager. Between September and December the Beach Boys will record and release " Never Learn Not to Love" changing the name to Charlie's song, and not crediting him. Charlie did not take this well. According to Van Dyke Parks, this incident would cause Charlie to approach Dennis Wilson with a single bullet and threaten his kids. This would mark the end of any real remaining relationship between the two.
March of 69- Charlie goes to 10050 Cielo looking for Terry Melcher, and is rebuffed and treated rudely by both Rudi Altobelli the owner and Sharon's photographer Shahrokh Hatami. He is no longer being welcomed by the "Beautiful people"
May of 69- Terry Melcher goes to Spahn to audition Manson and leaves unimpressed. returns a couple days later and same result. Terry arranges for a mobile recording vehicle to return, but Charlie would eventually scare that guy off as well. Shortly after, Melcher would pass on his rejection through Jakobson.
At this point the dream is officially over and Charlie knows it. Nobody left in that circle will have anything to do with him,
Early July 69- Crowe incident
Laster in July 69- Hinman incident
August 8/9 of 1969- TLB....
I have never read any timeline the Family had prepared for how to handle to execution of Helter Skelter. But if you want to see, in real-time, an outline of a guy go from one extreme in life to the other in the course of about one solid year- look at the above timeline again. Charlie's life went from glamour and possibility, to poverty and desperation. Maybe Charlie started to simmer over who he felt was responsible. Once the Family crossed the line to violence it may have just become a matter of time...
"Circulating around Elektra Records or A&M when I was there was some Manson tape that had come in , gotten rejected, come in and gotten rejected again. People remembered that tape suddenly, and some people were thinking, Gee, glad we didn't sign him, and Gee wonder if our rejecting him played a role? There was this vague sense of not so much guilt that anyone contributed, but that they were part of a chain of events that, unknowingly and unwillingly, led to the outburst of whatever all this rage was."
- Michael James Jackson (A&R Executive in "Laurel Canyon" by Michael Walker )
"As long as I live, I will never talk about that".
-Dennis Wilson to Rolling Stone in 1976
"For my cousin...our group members to be involved with that and to have the guilt associated with that, I mean had to be a tough burden to carry with him for the rest of his life."
- Mike Love ( interview with ABC News)
So back to this: Why That house? And, does the choice of THAT house tell us anything about the motive?
"The Girls spent the whole day preparing food and joints, fixing up the house in Canoga park where the Family was spending the Winter. Melcher never showed. Once again Terry Melcher had failed Charlie. More than ever, Terry Melcher, in his house at the top of Cielo Drive, with his power and his money was the focus for the bitterness and sense of betrayal the Family felt for all the phony Hollywood hippies who kept silencing the truth that Charlie had to share. These "Beautiful people" , Terry and all the others, were really no different from the rich piggies in their white shirts, ties and suits. and just like them, they too deserved a damn good whacking."
- Tex Watson ( Will You Die For Me)
It took Charlie quite a bit of time to find a place to go the second night, didn't it? They all testified to that,
But not the first night. And they all testified to that as well.
Charlie knew exactly where he wanted to send them that first night. Did Charlie send them there for personal revenge? He had been slighted there in the past by Rudi, and Sharon's Photographer. He knew that some pretty important "Pigs" lived inside, and he also probably did NOT know how to find Melcher himself at that point, but may have felt THAT house would serve the purpose just the same. Is that possible? Could that have been why Charlie sent them to THAT house that night? Is that harder to believe than the idea he sent them there to start a race war? Maybe. Even Mr. Helter Skelter himself had to adress it:
"We knew there was at least one secondary motive for the Tate murders. As Susan Atkins put it on the Caballero tape, "The reason Charlie picked the 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."
-Vincent Bugliosi (Helter Skelter)
For years I have been told on this blog that Bugs "Invented" the H/S motive for his personal gain in addition to being able to implicate Charlie. Maybe. But if Bugs overplayed H/S - did another motive get underplayed as a result? Something as simple as revenge? Charlie painted a very rosy picture of things for everyone in the early days of the family. As time went on and it became harder to deliver, it must have become more and more important to find places to point the finger and people on whom to lay the blame. Maybe, over time, rich or well-off people became the enemy. Furthermore, maybe the rich, or well-off people that Charlie knew- and who had personally denied that lifestyle to him- became enemy number one. As far away as the "Recording star" dream became for Charlie- the more his venom towards those people seemed to grow. Did the frustration reach a boiling point?
"He seemed a little uptight, a little too intense. Frustrated artist. Spent alot of time in jail. Frustrated songwriter, singer. Made up songs as he went along. New stuff all the time, no two songs were the same. I remember playing a little guitar while he was makin' up songs. Strong will, that guy. I told Mo Ostin about him, Warner Brothers- "This guy is unbelievable- he makes up the songs as he goes along, and they are all good." Never got any further than that, Never got a demo. Glad he didn't get around to me when he was punishing people for the fact that he didn't make it in the music biz. That's what all that was about. Didn't get to be a rock and roll star so he started fucking wiping people out. Dig that."
- Neil Young (Shakey Biography by Jimmy McDonough )
Neil Young seemed to think so, and he was not alone. there was certainly a feeling in the Los Angeles music community back then that they had gotten too close to the monster. Many of the people from the music industry who wound up in Charlies orbit would go on in life to speak of Manson in a way that demonstrates either guilt in having not been a target of the violence, or guilt in perhaps having been some kind of influence in causing it. Most of them stayed quiet out of guilt and/or fear. There was a common feeling that it was something close to all of them. You can sense it in the interviews and old videos. It was real. Maybe that tells us something about all of this, and maybe its mashed potatoes? I really don't know.
But let me ask you this: Melcher and several others went into seclusion or hiding after the murders. Some refused to talk about it ever again. Do you think they were afraid of the Family and Charlie at that point because of a race war? Or, do you think they were afraid Charlie might send one of the others after them to seek some sort of misguided- Revenge?
Hmmm... Lets take a quick look at what another one of the actual killers had to say:
"If Charles Manson thought Helter Skelter was imminent, and he desperately didn't want to get caught for the murders, why would he still go ahead and arrange for the people to be murdered? He wouldn't. Something else provoked this rash act. And as we go through the events that led to those two nights in August of 1969, you will see exactly how a long line of interrelated events led to all of this."
" They were not revolutionary or environmental symbolic killings. They were heinous, degraded, and depraved murders of completely innocent people, 3/4 with loved ones, families, and friends, dreams and hopes just like the rest of us- and all for the most basest of causes; the serving of Charles Manson's self interest."
- Susan Atkins ( The Myth of Hekter Skelter)
So in fairness, both Tex and Susan say the motive was ultimately a moshposh of contributing factors. But I did not make any of these quotes up. I also know Tex and Susan can't really be trusted, and change stories, and are self-serving blah, blah, blah...
But, what if neither Tex or Susan really knew why they did what they did. What if Charlie had his own reasons to send them where he did, and just made some stuff up for them to get what he wanted? Ultimately, maybe Charlie died, knowing alone, why he really sent them to that house on that night. I am not going to tell you I know for sure one way or the other. Some things just make more sense to me than others. Sometimes it just seems that the most confusing riddles have the easiest answers if you just don't overthink them. That house represented everything to Charlie he never had, and had come to realize, would never have, That house was rejection. When it became time to be spiteful to a world that was rejecting him, perhaps it was not too difficult for Charlie to figure out where to start.
Maybe all the pressure and all the anger swelled into one group of people and one specific place for Charlie to focus on, Maybe one man pushed over the edge decided to take his revenge against the people who denied him what he felt entitled to. Maybe that man sold a story to his friends to get them fired up to help him, and maybe it worked. Maybe TLB happened because a frustrated loser ran out of options and crossed a line when he had nowhere else to go. Maybe the people who committed the actual crimes never understood the real reason they were obediently doing so. Maybe Bugs knew this all along and swept it under the rug to sell books, and a motive to secure his verdict against Charlie. Maybe that worked too. Maybe the whole thing was really about a motive as old as time itself...
I don't know... Maybe
- Your Favorite Saint