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Charles Manson Dead at 83

Charles Manson, a Villain in Life & Death, Praised as a Counterculture Hero in 1969, Dead at 83

Manson, the man who struck a violent coda to the era of peace and love, met his end in a Bakersfield hospital at 83.

Jackson Browne, Neil Young, the Mamas and the Papas, and, of course, the Beach Boys all crossed paths with the diminutive guitarist in the 1960s before Sharon Tate, Gary Hinman, and Shorty Shea did. His followers came to him via Anton Lavey’s Church of Satan, Wavy Gravy’s Hog Farm, the Cal-Berkeley library, and points beyond. He preached a gospel of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, practicing what he preached by orchestrating orgies, sacramentally distributing LSD as though communion, and prevailing upon Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson and later Doris Day’s son Terry Melcher to record his music.
Manson started his family in the Bay Area, where he tripped at a Grateful Dead concert at the Avalon Ballroom and busked in Haight-Ashbury for spare change, before heading south. The conman projected an oracular wiseman to fools. Biographer Ed Sanders notes, “The reality was that he was a glib grubby little man with a guitar scrounging for young girls using mysticism and guru babble.”
More than his naïve female followers fell for it. Even after Manson stood accused of orchestrating the murders of ten human beings in four separate incidents in 1969, some radicals stood by him. Others lionized him.


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