To the world, Charles Milles Manson will forever be known as one of the most notorious cult killers of all time. However, in 1968, he was branded with the name “The Wizard” by Beach Boys’ drummer Dennis Wilson, after admitting he was somewhat afraid of him.
He was not alone. For a considerable length of time, Manson was the image of fear for many Americans. To them, he was a real-life monster who lingered as the origination of an ogre in the flesh. However, that all ended at the Kern County Hospital in Bakersfield, California, at 8:13 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2017. The savage cult leader passed away from natural causes, at the age of 83.
To many, he was not just an American criminal, but a religious cult leader. For a short time, Manson directed a small community of brainwashed followers known as the Manson Family. These supporters were a group of misguided misfits that came out of California in the late 1960s. They were not only brainwashed into thinking he was their savior, but dedicated killers that carried out nine homicides in July and August of 1969.
Was it fear that drove these indoctrinated Manson supporters? Wilson felt a glimpse of this terror 49 years ago, after the generous drum player picked up a pair of female hikers and drove them back to his Sunset Boulevard residence. However, these were not the typical hitchhikers, they were members of the Manson Family.
Unknown to the instrumentalist, he would soon find out they were not going anywhere anytime soon. When Wilson returned late that night from his recording meeting, he found his home crowded with cult followers and Manson himself.
It did not stop there. A dim era came quickly after that for Wilson. Getting rid of them was not an option, in fact, Manson and his cohorts moved in and made themselves a home. While there, they bombarded Wilson trying to get him to boost Manson’s music profession.
Manson, The Birth of a Misfit
He was born to an unmarried 16-year-old, Kathleen Maddox. His father was Colonel Walker Henderson Scott Sr. It was not long after his birth that Manson’s mother filed a paternity suit against the Colonel that brought about a concurred judgment in 1937. Some believe she found out that he was a con artist. Rumors swelled that Scott was far from an Army colonel and that he lied to Maddox about his identity. However, he did not lie about working in the local mills, but while there, he did not have the best reputation. In fact, because of his dishonest conduct, they dubbed him as a swindler.
Swindling his way out of problems was his specialty, and he did just that after Maddox broke the news to him about her pregnancy. Scott said he was being stationed somewhere on an army venture. After several months, Maddox learned that he had no intention of coming back to her.
Eventually, she would turn to a life of excessive drinking. However, for her son, the nightmare was just beginning. He would be in and out of foster homes and juvenile facilities.
Escape from an Ogre
Wilson was unfamiliar with Manson’s past, but it would not be long before he would find out just what kinda person Manson could be. First, he would have to find a way to get this strange Guru out of his home. Wilson admitted that after a while, he started to get a little mesmerized by the cult leader. The American performing artist and songster, who co-founded the Beach Boys, did not know that he was getting himself into something that would be hard to get out of. At first, awed by Manson’s songwriting ability, Wilson acquainted him with a couple of friends in the music industry.
Before he knew it, Wilson was caught up in the insanity, endorsing and recording the would-be icon. Things went from bad to worse. Wilson recorded a Manson melody for the Beach Boys initially titled “Cease to Exist,” however, revamped as “Never Learn Not to Love” (1968), a solitary B-side. The song was attributed exclusively to Wilson. Incensed by this, Manson facilitated murder. After months of feeling uncomfortable, Wilson finally got the nerve to cut his losses. He had everybody evicted and cut off contact for good. Manson was not going that easily. He threatened Wilson with extortion.
There were times when Manson sent .45 caliber bullets to intimidate Wilson. Soon it became compulsory, and the demands for money were more than he could bare. The percussionist found himself in a state of endless fear — an unrest that would not go away until Manson’s apprehension, on suspicion of homicide in late 1969.
The Sharon Tate Slaying
Unfortunately, for actress Sharon Tate, she would not get the opportunity to feel the release of fear that Wilson felt. Her life, nor that of her unborn baby would be spared. To her, Mason was “that creepy-looking guy.” Before her death, she had a small encounter with Mason as she peeked through the front screen door.
Apparently, he showed up in the driveway of her home looking for someone. Members of the Manson Family, in September 1969, were detained on unconnected charges, ultimately leading authorities to a breakthrough on the Tate case also. They clarified that the reason for the slayings was not the identity of the victims, but because the house at that location had belonged to an associate of the cult leader.
Her husband, Roman Polanski, gave away all his properties after the murders. He did not want anything that reminded him of “the happiest I ever was in my life.” Polanski stayed in Los Angeles until the killers were in prison.
As for Wilson, after the murders fear came back to haunt him. In 1976, he told journalist David Felton, “As long as I live, I’ll never talk about that.” As stated by historian Mark Dillon: “Some attribute [Wilson’s] subsequent spiral of self-destructive behavior ― particularly his drug abuse ― to these fears and feelings of guilt for ever having introduced this evil Wizard into the Hollywood limelight.”
By Jomo Merritt
Edited by Jeanette Smith
Variety: Charles Manson Dies at 83
Las Cruces Sun-News: You must remember Charles Manson
CNN: Charles Manson, leader of murderous ’60s cult, dead at 83
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License
First Inset Image by FCI Terminal Island of The UN’s Flickr Page – Public License
Second inset Image by Dennis Wilson Courtesy of Wikimedia – Public Domain