The 1969 Manson Family killings retain their appalling fascination. From podcasts to TV series to this seasons hottest book Emma Clines The Girls the hippy horror is still being picked over for meaning
Charles Manson made many grand predictions in the 60s to his doped-up, damaged followers about his future, but he never foresaw that he would waste away pathetically, a broken old man in prison. Rather, he said he would be a rock star bigger than the Beatles, he promised. Failing that, or perhaps as well as that, he would be the triumphant Aryan leader in a global race revolution. But what he really wanted, more than anything, was to be famous. In that pursuit, if nothing else, he wholly succeeded.
It is 47 years this month since Manson and his mostly female followers, known as the Family, committed the killings that have become as much a part of the story of 20th-century America as the assassination of JFK and the OJ Simpson trial. However, unlike those crimes, there are no questions about what happened with the Manson murders: we know pretty much exactly who did what to whom, when and why, down to some of the victims last words.
Late on 9 August 1969, under Mansons instruction, four Family members Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian and Patricia Krenwinkel left their commune on Spahn Ranch, which had been used frequently in westerns, and drove to 10050 Cielo Drive, a house formerly rented by record producer Terry Melcher, but then inhabited by Roman Polanski and his wife, Sharon Tate. Manson had been introduced to Melcher by Dennis Wilson, a dopey, druggy Beach Boy who wrongly thought Manson had something. Charlies real cosmic, man. Hes deep. He listens to Beatles records and gets messages from them about what to do next, Wilson told friends.
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