Saturday, October 31, 2020

A Little Something for Halloween

This is a post from Mark Lindsay's (Paul Revere and the Raiders) fan page. I am not the Deb in the first part of the story!  All the pictures were taken at Cielo.  Happy Halloween


Do I believe in ghosts? Well, if you're talking about spiritual manifestations in the physical world that remain after the body is dead and buried, the answer is yes.

In the 1990s, we were living in Maui but the bi-weekly commute to the east coast to do gigs was time-consuming and expensive, so my wife Deb and I decided on a second residence. We found a grand old (circa 1830) Federal in upstate New York.

The house had a great deal of character, and we soon found out that at least one of the earlier householders was still in residence, so to speak. On many occasions when we were in the dining room or kitchen, we would hear what sounded like footsteps coming from above us on the second story. I'd fling open the door to the second story servants' quarters and dash up the steep, winding staircase, but as soon as I got to the top landing, the sounds would cease.

Several times I saw the legs – just the legs – of a woman dressed in heavy skirts moving swiftly ahead of me up the stairs. This was quite a shock the first time I observed her, and Deb and I soon came to the realization that our new old house might be haunted, but the spirit or whatever was benign and seemed to pose no threat. And after we assured a electrician working on our renovation who had also seen her that she was friendly, we all peacefully co-existed with our “guest” until we sold the place several years later. 

This experience was in stark contrast to the first haunted house where I lived for two years, in 1966 and 1967, at 10050 Cielo Drive. Yes, the place that would soon be known as the infamous "Manson Murder House."

Terry Melcher was a staff producer at CBS Records in Hollywood. His mother, Doris Day, had been a staple at CBS for years, but the new era of rock and roll was exploding and Paul Revere and the Raiders was signed to the label as its first rock act. It seemed natural that Terry, as the youngest producer and the same age as me, should be assigned to produce my group.

Terry and I soon became friends, and he told me he had just leased a house in Benedict Canyon. When he asked if I wanted to move in, share the rent, and write songs together, I jumped at the chance.

The house had a million dollar view, a pool, and peaceful, well-sculpted grounds with a rose garden. The interior at first seemed ideal. There was plenty of room with a master and guest bedroom, as well as a spacious living room with a grand piano and a loft. Across a small entry hall was the kitchen, dining room, and a maid's quarters.

But a couple of weeks after I moved in, I began to sense two areas in this idyllic setting that seemed, well, not quite right. The two bedrooms were in the back of the house and although there was a door from the master to the pool, I always took the long way to the pool, out the front door and around to the back.

The master bedroom just felt "wrong" to me somehow. Although it was much larger than my room, it always seemed cold and a little creepy. I know Terry had a hard time feeling comfortable in his room, and took sleeping pills nightly.

The other area in the house that felt weird to me was the entry hall. It always seemed several degrees colder than the main part of the house, even in the summer's heat, and no one ever lingered there.

A month or so after moving in, I learned that there was perhaps a reason for my odd feelings. Rudy Altobelli owned the property and lived in the guest house that was slightly down the hill. He dropped by one afternoon to visit with Terry and me.

After we'd had a glass or two of wine, Rudy asked if we were superstitious, and we both responded, "No." And then he proceeded to tell us the history of the house. It seemed that several Hollywood luminaries had lived there over the years, but the story of some of the early residents really got our attention.

Rudy said that one of the first couples to occupy the house had been newlyweds, and on their wedding night the bride somehow learned that the groom had cheated on her in the recent past. Supposedly after the marriage was consummated and he was asleep, the new lady of the house took a large knife from the kitchen and stabbed him to death in bed. She then put a bullet in her brain using the small "lady's pistol" that he had given her for protection as one of her wedding gifts.

Rudy told us the whole affair had been hushed up and was never talked about because it would reflect negatively on the real estate value. He said that although the femme fatale's spirit still lingered, she probably wouldn't bother two guys -- although he warned that she didn't seem to tolerate beautiful women very well. "As long as you don't let your girlfriends stay over too long, you should be okay," he warned. And then he went back to his residence, leaving us to ponder.

Over the next few months, I began to believe that Rudy was telling the truth, and that the bride was not only still with us, but quite angry, because strange things began to happen.

Except for the odd feeling in Terry's bedroom and the unexplained temperature drop in the front entry, the house seemed fairly neutral most of the time. However, unless we were writing at the piano or listening to music (which we played at ear-splitting levels), Terry and I felt most comfortable hanging out in the rose garden, which was on the opposite side of the house from the master bedroom.

More and more often, I noticed that Terry was taking downers, Valium and Tuinals, during the day and not just to sleep. The 44 magnum I usually kept in a suitcase in my closet, I now slept with under my pillow. I couldn't put my finger on it, but in the back of my mind I felt like I might need protection.

When I had moved into the house, I brought my studio sound system, including Mcintosh amps and JBL monitor speakers, which I installed in the loft. I also brought my telescope, mounted on a tripod, which we placed in the front entryway. The idea was that if we opened one of the front Dutch doors, we could then use the telescope to check out the view of Beverly Hills and the Pacific Ocean in the distance. I think we did this once, and then the scope just became a fixture in the entrance.

One day, about a month after I'd moved in, Terry and I were both seated on the piano bench, working on a tune. We were kicking some lyrics around when, all of a sudden, there was a loud crash from the vicinity of the front door. We both jumped up and found that the telescope had been knocked over.

The tripod was still open and locked in place, no one else was in the house, we had no pets at the time, and the door was shut tight. We talked about it and agreed there was no way it could have fallen over by itself, but somehow it had!

A few weeks later, when I was sound asleep, the stereo system came on at full volume in the middle of the night. I jumped out of bed and ran into the living room to tell Terry to turn it down, but no one was in the room. I shut it off and went to bed.

The next morning, Terry was upset. It seemed he had picked up one of the go-go girls at The Whiskey, and was at a "critical point in the relationship" when the stereo suddenly started blasting at full volume. I told him I thought he had turned it on, but he vehemently denied it, so we were left with another mystery.

This "stereo in the night thing" happened at least two other times that I remember, and since I was on tour about half the time, I might have missed more of the unwelcome events.

One hot summer day at the end of a series of tour dates, I returned to the house when there was a meeting going on in the living room. Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys was there, and he, Terry, and a prominent attorney were discussing some kind of deal. 

So as not to interrupt, I went into the kitchen to get a cold drink. There was a guy I didn't recognize squatting on the slate floor, leaning against the refrigerator. He was dressed in a blue work shirt and jeans and did not seem too happy.

I tried to open the refrigerator door but the guy wouldn't budge. "Excuse me," I said, but he totally ignored me. I tried again. “Sorry, man, but I'm trying to get in the frig!” He didn't move or even look at me. I walked into the living room and asked, "What's with the weird guy in the kitchen?" 

Dennis said, "Oh, that's just Charlie...he's okay." But he didn't seem very "okay" to me at the time.

This of course turned out to be Charlie Manson, and he was at the house on at least one other occasion. When I was driving up to the house a couple of weeks later, he was just getting into a limo, which then left. Charlie didn't look like the kind of guy who could or would hire a limousine, so I figured Terry or Dennis must have sent one for him.

When I walked into the house, the vibes were not good, so I figured that particular meeting must not have one well. Supposedly, Manson was at least at one other meeting at Cielo, but these are the only two times I saw him there. As I came and went from my trips, I would never know who I might encounter when I returned. I met Hendrix there, Mama Cass, John and Michelle, and a lot of "folkies" and blues musicians.

On one return trip, I walked into the house to discover Terry and Candice Bergen making out on the couch like a couple of teenagers. As time went on, I would find Candy there more and more often. It became obvious that this was becoming somewhat serious and I began to feel like the odd man out in my own house.

The lease was up for renewal in a couple of months, so I told Terry that I would feel more comfortable renting my own place, leaving Candy free to move in. In retrospect, this might not have been such a great idea for their relationship. As soon as I moved out and Miss Bergen moved in, she and Terry began having more and more disagreements and fights, which ultimately culminated in Candy moving out.

This left Terry alone in the house, which I don't think he liked very much. Shortly thereafter he sublet the property to Roman Polanski, and moved to his mom's beach house in Malibu.

Did the spirit who Rudy had said didn't like pretty women stir up the tension to evict Candy?

And did that same spirit inspire Susan Atkins or Tex Watson to take a large knife from the kitchen and brutally stab Sharon Tate?

I guess we'll never know for sure, but I can testify to the fact that strange, unexplained events occurred when I was living there. And at it times, I did sense an undeniable foreboding and a feeling of pervasive darkness emanating from the house at 10050 Cielo Drive.