He was certifiably psychotic, but he had the charisma to influence a “Family” of disciples. His gang was responsible for the most famous murders in pop-culture history, so last week he spent another birthday in prison. At 75, Charlie Manson has a new schtick: the dude’s a “Greenie”.
That the man was psychotic, a classic paranoid schizophrenic, can be held in little doubt. There were signs of it when he was younger, but by the late 1960s it had become full-blown – Charles Manson thought he was the Messiah. Like, what do you say about a guy who has a harem of disciples (the “Family,” they were famously called, and they were mostly female) to whom he incessantly quotes from two sources: the Book of Revelation and the Beatles?
Long festering though they were, Manson’s random cognitive connections properly came together when he was 35. By 1969, his deranged solipsism was complete. The “four angels” from the Book of Revelations were John, Paul, Ringo and George; the White Album, with songs such as “Revolution,” “Rocky Racoon” and “Happiness is a warm gun,” spoke directly of the coming uprising, when blacks would take on the white establishment; and “Helter Skelter” was the crowning glory of it all, the track that concretised Manson’s warped and murderous ideology. As Family member Paul Watkins once said, “Before Helter Skelter came along, all Charlie cared about was orgies.”
Implication being, of course, that Charlie cared about a whole lot more after that. Killing people was up near the top, and over the summer of 1969 the Family committed a range of murders, all designed to precipitate America’s foretold race war. The murder of Roman Polanski’s pregnant wife Sharon Tate, two days after Family member Bobby Beausoleil was arrested for the murder of Charles Hinman, was part of a mass slaughter that was meant to be the real start of “Helter Skelter,” but it ultimately ended up bringing the Manson clan down. In mid-October 1969, authorities made the connection between the Hinman case, the Tate killings, and the LaBianca murders – which took place the night after Tate was fatally stabbed – and by December all suspects had been arrested.
One irony amongst many in the matter was that Manson, an un-rehabilitated criminal and long-time jailbird, asked the feds in 1966 to keep him in prison, saying that it had become his only home.
Now, forty years later, Manson can call himself a man who’s achieved his ambitions. Almost two-thirds of his life has been spent behind bars, and last week he saw in his 75th birthday at the state prison in Corcoran, California. According to CNN, Manson still gets piles of mail, and he whiles away his days singing and playing guitar. He also has new devotees, like the 60-year-old “Gray Wolf,” and a 24-year-old fast food employee named “Star”. Apparently, Manson has become a dedicated Greenie.
“Manson thinks the destruction of the environment is much more serious than we are being made out to believe,” Wolf told CNN. “Our government keeps covering up problems with pollution, with coal, with automobiles. Charlie says we need to get back to the horse.”
By Kevin Bloom
Read more: CNN
WATCH: Manson’s 1989 interview in San Quentin Prison. (Warning: it could be disturbing to some viewers.)