This article was last modified on December 7, 2008.


Interview Regarding Charles Manson

After reading my thoughts concerning the myths surrounding Charles Manson, I was contacted by a student for a research paper. Her questions and my answers are below. Her name is not given for the sake of her privacy.

What is your history with Manson research? Do you research for fun or is it a part of your study and/or profession?

I wouldn’t say it is part of my profession. Though I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s “for fun”. I take an interest in Manson for a variety of reasons, primarily historical ones but also philosophical. There was a great book that came out in, I think, 1971 that was written by philosophers about the Manson case… it’s actually a deep scholarly topic. I also knew his cellmate, James Mar, so I have an indirect personal connection.

Do you feel that Manson had a motive for convincing his family to commit the murders, or do you believe it was purely for sport?

That’s tough to say. Certainly the Tate killing has been tied to Terry Melcher, and the motive of revenge makes sense. But the LaBianca killing is unclear. I think the primary motivation was something akin to Leopold and Loeb, the idea that Manson felt he was smart enough to get away with killing, so why not? If you want to call that sport, you can, but I think it was more of a mental domination game than pure sport.

After my short period of research, it seems to me that Manson’s music was a big influence for the crimes, what do you know about his music career and do you think that could have been a factor?

As I said, I think the revenge motive ties in. As you know from your research, Terry Melcher didn’t give Manson the music break he was looking for, so it’s possible that Manson targeted his house not knowing that Sharon Tate had moved in. How much his music “influenced” the crimes, I can’t say. His music career was more or less limited to playing for friends at Spahn Ranch, and on occasion for Dennis Wilson, one of the Beach Boys. You know that the Beach Boys took Manson’s song “Cease to Exist” and reworked it into a new song (I believe called “Never Learn Not to Love”). Manson’s recordings are available from a variety of independent record labels. Some were recorded in prison, but the best known album is “Lie”, which features some of the Manson Family doing background vocals. Personally, I think he had a lot of musical potential — “Mechanical Man” and “Garbage Dump”, for example, are decent and “Big Iron Door” is melodic. “Look at Your Game Girl” could have been a hit in the 1960s.

Supposedly Manson receives the more mail than any other inmate in prison. Do you agree with that, and what do you make of his growing fan base?

Well, I can’t agree or disagree since I don’t know the actual numbers. But I find it very likely that he’s the most popular inmate in the American prison system. Manson, more than any other criminal, has a certain legendary cult status behind him. Is his fan base growing? I would have suspected his popularity peaked in the early 1970s and then again in the mid 1990s. In 1994-1996, I think his popularity jumped due in part to Marilyn Manson’s fame (infamy?) and also Nine Inch Nails’ recording in the Tate mansion. Guns and Roses also too ka shine to Manson in the early 1990s, though I can’t think of any similar following he has today. I could be wrong.

Do you think Manson found murder as a way to get noticed and a way to have his music finally acknowledged?

No. While it is true that his music received a wider audience after the murders (in fact, the record “Lie” was released during the trial), I do not believe that it was his intention to use murder for publicity. In order for that plan to work, he would have to have been caught. I’m fairly certain he had no interest in being caught, so I doubt that would be the motive.

Also try another article under Historical / Biographical
or another one of the writings of Gavin.

2 Responses to “Interview Regarding Charles Manson”

  1. Mister X Says:

    There are alot of people interested in the Manson related case both pro and con and even indifferent to the extremes. I run a blog which deals with the ideas of the Manson Circle from its beginning til Charles’s latest writings.

    http://fromspahnranch.wordpress.com/

  2. California Born Says:

    Hello, Gavin and all. I ran accross your site, and have read different articles on it. Gavin, you are great writer and very knowledgable on many subjects.

    I have to say here, nothing against you, but I find the whole Charles Manson thing, a horrible page in our history of the world. What he and his followers did especially to Sharon Tate and all of her quests, I wish they could all have been severly executed for it. I find it alarming that he has any kind of a “Following”, that just shows how messed up those people are following heneous murderers. Anyone who could sing after, praise after someone who would cut a woman who was almost ready to deliver a baby, cut the baby out of her while she watched and bled to death is more than repulsive. Enough said.

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