He influenced Roman Polanski's life, wrote hippy music and planned to start an apocalyptic race war. An icon of insanity, he's currently serving a life imprisonment sentence for conspiracy to commit murder. Ladies and gentlemen, Charles Manson!
Charles didn't have the best childhood ever. In fact, it pretty much sucked. Born as no name Maddox, he never got to know his father and his mother, an alcoholic, once traded him for a pitcher of beer with a childless waitress. When she got him back, she promptly went to prison. After that she tried to find a foster home for Charlie, but nobody wanted him. For someone well-versed in Hollywood style of narration, this calls for an immediate interruption from Willy Wonka, who should give Charlie a chance to live an awesome life for all the trouble he went through that was his family's fault. And that's pretty much what happened if you substitute Wonka with a judge and the Chocolate Factory with Gibault School for Boys. We don't know what exactly happened while he was there, but it certainly wasn't chocolate, because Charles escaped from there after ten months.
Manson tried coming back to his mother only to be rejected. A string of robberies later, he was sent to an Indianapolis juvenile center, which also turned out not to be a Chocolate Factory. He escaped yet again, only to be sent to Boys Town, where he beat his next high score - he escaped after four days. This went on and on, through Indiana School for Boys, where Charles got to taste some
chocolate sodomy, Natural Bridge Honor Camp, where he sodomized some other inmate and finally the Federal Reformatory at Chillicothe, Ohio where, surprisingly, he became a perfect inmate and even managed to get educated up to the seventh grade. Which sounds strange for a federal institution...
If you look closely, you can see a line of Oompa Loompas.
Now that poor Charlie has been fixed by the correctional system and got himself a parole, one might think, he clearly had a future as a writer telling people about the wonders of the chocolate correction method, or maybe a musician - you know, one of those independent artsy types. All of this had to wait though, for Charles saw this as an opportunity to get himself in jail again - this time for taking a vehicle interstate to drive his pregnant wife to Los Angeles and not appearing at a court hearing in Florida. His wife left him and, two prisons and lots of other ridiculous crap (including pimping a 16 year old) later he finally got the idea to start a hippie cult. And become a musician.
It was the summer of 1967, what better time to lead a hippie cult? Manson, who learned to play guitar from a prison cellmate and to bullshit people from Scientology books started yet another flower children group, composed of him and eighteen women. Knowing that they had to stay somewhere and probably realizing that the house of a UC Berkeley librarian would not suffice, Manson decided to move his group to The Beach Boys' Dennis Wilson's house. And by "decided to move" we mean moved them there overnight, so when Wilson got back from the recording studio in the morning, he was greeted by The Family. We can only imagine what it feels like to return to your home only to find out there's twelve women and Charles Manson inside.
They didn't stay there for long though, because in august of 1968 the entire group has moved to Spahn Ranch, a place once used to shoot Western movies. The females belonging to the Family turned out to be useful as prostitutes, spreading love to the owner of the ranch. Manson's inability to stay in one place and his budding insanity kept the group rather nomadic, as they soon changed locations yet again, this time to Myers and Barker ranches. It was there that Manson first told the Family about how the Beatles are sending subliminal messages to their group in their songs and how a race war between black and white people was just around the corner. We can't honestly blame the others for not reacting to Charles's mental decline, after all, they knew he was a rabid Beatles fan and if you ask any rabid fan of anything, he'll be sure to tell you that the author creates exactly for him.
"Of course Electric Six were singing about me installing a new TV set in <<High Voltage>>"
Seeing as the apocalypse was taking its sweet time to occur, even after the murder of Martin Luther King, and probably also due to most female members of the Family realizing that they were the group's cooks, workers and fuck pilows, Manson got the obvious idea that a race war must be started by them. After all, who cares if it was deranged hippies or black people that were murdering innocent citizens? Ku Klux Klan doesn't and that's enough.
The famous Tate murders did not happen out of the blue, but were actually preceded by the Family going more and more violent. The first organized murder they commited was the killing of one Gary Hinman. Although the motives were purely financial - turns out the electric company doesn't care about how much love flowers - it started somewhat of a tradition. After killing Hinman, one of the members of the group wrote the words "political piggy" on the wall with his blood. Also, it turned out he didn't have any piles of cash inherited from anyone - not wanting to waste a good chance to send a political message, the Family also drew a Black Panther symbol with Hinman's blood.
"Now is the time for Helter Skelter", said Manson to his followers two days after the killing. We're not quite sure if it wasn't just a cheap way of getting revenge on a guy who was supposed to make him into a hippy rock superstar but didn't even bother to hear any of their songs. Yes, the Tate murders were supposed to be a message to Terry Melcher not to fuck with the group. The details you can find on Wikipedia, so here's just a tally: four members of the Family, five victims and at least 102 stabbing wounds. Turns out hippies really do suck at this. To drive their message home, the killers not only left the victims tied with ropes, but also smeared the word "pig" on the front door with Sharon Tate's blood.
Now, one would suspect that Charles would be pleased, but, as it turns out, he was utterly dissatisfied with the group's lack of professionalism, because the next night he took six members of the Family to show them "how it's done". And by that he meant he was going to tie the victims up and give instructions, no actual killing on his side. Maybe he realized he also didn't have a clue what the fuck he was doing. That didn't matter though as Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were soon yet another source of paint for the Family to write their race war inciting messages with.
Fuck the systme
The LaBianca house stood just next door to where members of the Family had a party a year before. Remember that the next time there are hippies in your neighborhood.
All in all, the world turned out to be composed of people absolutely unaware of the subtle hints in The Beatles' music and no race war was ever started. Manson and the rest of the family were first arrested as an "auto theft ring" and released because the warrant was misdated. Only after continuing the investigation into the LaBianca murders the detectives finally figured out that the guy obsessing about The Beatles and the name of the song written in blood at a crime scene might have something in common. The group was once again arrested after a raid by National Park rangers, California High Way Patrol, federal and state armed officers on the Myers and Barker ranches. Manson was found hiding under a bathroom sink.
Manson and his co-conspirators were found guilty during the trial and sentenced to death, but the ruling was reduced to life in prison because of the California v. Anderson case. During the trial he carved an X on his forehead, which would later change to a swastika. How much that is connected to the fact that he was submissive to an Aryan Brotherhood member in the San Quentin prison is unknown.
Manson gave three interviews, each and every one showcasing his mental instability.
He is somewhat of an icon now, the symbol of insane murderous people. Marilyn Manson is a band named after him. Guns n' Roses covered many of his songs. System of a Down's "ATWA" is named after his environmentalist movement. He's been featured by Family Guy and South Park. He receives fan mail.
Now think about this for a while - the guy who was the mind behind the brutal murders done by a hippie cult now lives a convienient life, where all is provided for him, he's insanely (get it?) popular and receives fan mail, while you will most likely spend most of your life staring at a computer screen, nine to five, only to retire and die of cancer with no fan mail and grandchildren, if you ever have any, treating you like a gift dispenser. You will never be as popular as Charles Manson. Think about it.
So, is there any moral to this story? That alcoholic mothers are bad? That hippies are dangerous? That you shouldn't leave your wife and go to London? Whatever it is, Charlie has the upper hand here. He has other people to care for him, prepare food and wash his clothes for him. He is, in the words of Juann Flynn, a Spahn Ranch worker, "exactly where he wants to be". Or so you would think.
Charles Manson's next parole hearing is scheduled for 2012. Just saying...