He's known for his deranged rambling, but these particular Charles Manson quotes just might intrigue you with how much sense they made, and how prescient they are.
The life and times of Charles Manson have mesmerized countless millions for generations. His myth — one of infamy spurred by sex, drugs, and Satanism — destroyed the optimism of 1960s counter-culture and reduced hippiedom to a supposedly failed experiment.
What remains of the late, infamous cult leader is a hypnotizing kaleidoscope of seemingly prophetic quotes and the utterly horrific Sharon Tate and Rosemary LaBianca murders of 1969. To this day, people are bewildered as to how he managed to draw so many people in.
How could a failed musician, who was an amateur thief-turned-cult leader on the side, recruit so many obedient youths into a makeshift “Family” that adored him? Charles Manson was a married man before he became a world-renowned symbol of nihilism and murder.
As a matter of fact, the notorious criminal was married twice, and fathered two sons before he forced a nation to pay attention to him. Once the spotlight shone on him — the Jesus-looking hippie who sicked a group of brainwashed youths to murder Hollywood elite — it stayed on him for good.
The pop-culture fascination with Manson began entirely as a direct result of the killings in 1969. Roman Polanski was arguably the most famous director in the world at that time — a Holocaust survivor-turned auteur and Hollywood’s new wunderkind.
When Manson’s faithful followers stabbed his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, to death — the entire world wanted to hear from the man himself.
Thus began an obsessive curiosity with his perspective, cultural and socio-political musings, and why he’d lived his life in the manner he did. As you can probably tell by now, that wave of curiosity never broke.
Instead of crashing down and retreating back into the ocean of time — it just continued to grow.
Charles Manson Before Helter Skelter
Born Charles Milles Maddox in Cincinnati, Ohio on Nov. 12, 1934, Manson didn’t have a pleasant childhood. His mother, Kathleen Maddox, was a runaway who gave birth at 16 years of age. Unfortunately, she was also a relentless alcoholic who was in and out of jail.
According to ThoughtCo, Maddox married William Manson shortly after she became a mother. Though this union didn’t last long, the young boy would be known as Charles Manson for the rest of his life. Maddox was incarcerated for robbery in 1940, and spent little energy — if any — on motherhood.
“Mom was in a cafe one afternoon with me on her lap,” Manson later recalled. “The waitress, a would-be mother without a child of her own, jokingly told my Mom she’d buy me from her. Mom replied, ‘A pitcher of beer and he’s yours.’ The waitress set up the beer, Mom stuck around long enough to finish it off and left the place without me. Several days later my uncle had to search the town for the waitress and take me home.”
After that fairly traumatic experience, things didn’t get much easier for the young kid. Manson spent his childhood being passed around from a fanatically religious grandmother to a verbally abusive uncle, and another uncle who killed himself upon learning his property was being seized by the government.
When he was nine years old, Manson had an unproductive reunion with his estranged mother. This was exactly the same period of time when the young boy began stealing. At 12, he was sent to the Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Manson eventually escaped Gibault, only to get caught and be sent back several times. It was when he neared adulthood that began his impressively hefty career as a burglar and car thief. At 17, he drove a car across state lines, for which was imprisoned.
Charles Manson — Love And Marriage
He was sent to a different facility after garnering eight assault charges while incarcerated. In 1954, 19-year-old Manson was released on parole, and met his first wife — Rosalie Jean Willis. A young hospital waitress, Willis would soon become pregnant and give birth to his first son, Charles Manson Jr.
The pair drove to California in a stolen car, for which the ex-convict would once again find himself behind bars. It wouldn’t be the last time Manson left a single mother behind, while he lingered in prison. His sentence in 1956 was three years in Terminal Island Prison in San Pedro, California.
The relationship quickly became too difficult for Willis to maintain. Manson’s mother told her son doing a prison visit that his wife had moved in with another man. In June 1957, Willis divorced her troubled husband, and left town.
As history has a tendency to repeat itself, Manson’s release from prison in 1958 was once again short-lived. He quickly resorted to familiar activities such as robbery, and began pimping out women. A year later, he unsuccessfully attempted to forge Treasury checks, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
This was also the same year he met Leona “Candy” Stevens, a young prostitute Manson used for financial gain — and married. Once more, his wife was pregnant, while Manson went back to jail. This marriage, too, ended in divorce.
With two failed marriages and two abandoned sons on his back, Manson’s prison stint in the 1960s nurtured the persona and character we know today. He began studying music and Scientology, learned how to play guitar, and planned on becoming a performer once his sentence was served.
Manson Gets Out: The Manson Family Forms
On March 21, 1967, he finally got the chance. Freshly out the penitentiary, Manson took off to San Francisco. It was the Summer of Love, and there was arguably no better place for psychedelic mind expansion and creative musicianship than the borough of Haight-Ashbury.
It was here that he met Mary Brunner, a U.C. Berkely librarian who fell head over heels for him. When he took her up on the offer to move in, she quit her job and followed Manson down the rabbit hole of psychedelics and alternative perspectives on the established, American norms of the time.
Brunner was one of the first members of the Manson Family, and helped its figurehead recruit like-minded disciples. Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme was the second. It didn’t take long for the fringes of San Francisco hippies to hear about the man — a man who sang trippy songs and had a weird intuition for the faults of American society.
With deeply ingrained tactics of manipulation from childhood, and an admittedly tantalizing way with words, Manson was incredibly successful at drawing people in. His followers quite literally saw him as a prophet, and one they’d often compare to Jesus Christ himself.
In 1968 — one year before the Tate-LaBianca murders — the Manson Family drove to Southern California, to settle on Spahn Ranch.
Spahn Ranch And Helter Skelter
Manson was still keen on being a famous musician, but that dream never came to pass. He met Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys through Gary Hinman — a music teacher who recorded Manson’s “Never Learn Not to Love” for him.
It was Hinman who introduced Manson to record producer Terry Melcher, which Manson believed would be his ticket to ride. When it wasn’t, Manson was a little more than displeased. It was one of the most upsetting disappointments of his adult life.
Spahn Ranch, an abandoned movie set for westerns in the 1940s and 50s, became the Manson Family home. The San Fernando Valley compound was unfurnished and desolate, but isolated from the rest of society, so Manson could control his environment and subjects as he needed.
When The Beatles’ White Album hit the scene in 1968, Manson became obsessed with the song “Helter Skelter.” His fascination with the track was so strong that he used the term as the slogan for what he thought would be America’s impending race war.
The Manson Family would eventually write the term, albeit misspelled, on the wall of one of their murder scenes in the Hollywood hills. Before the Tate-LaBianca murders shook the world, however, the Family murdered Gary Hinman on July 25, 1969 — and tried to made it look as though the Black Panthers were responsible.
The Sharon Tate Murders
Manson ordered his followers to invade 10050 Cielo Drive on Aug. 9, 1969, and kill anyone and everyone inside. The house previously belonged to Melcher, though vengeance on him for not making Manson a famous musician didn’t seem to be the motive.
Roman Polanski and his newlywed wife, Sharon Tate, were renting the house at the time. Tragically, she was brutally stabbed to death — while eight months pregnant — alongside four others who happened to be there that night.
Manson Family members Charles “Tex” Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Linda Kasabian snuck inside the home and either stabbed or shot — or both — the unsuspecting innocents within. The word “PIG” was scrawled on the front door, while Tate’s neck was tied to her former boyfriend, Jay Sebring’s neck.
Polanski’s manager, William Tennant, broke the news to him the following day, over the phone. The Manson Family, meanwhile, was already underway with the second murder mission of that 24-hour period. Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were both stabbed to death in their home on Aug. 10, 1969.
There had never been such brutal, Satanic murders, of such high-profile celebrities and high-society members before August 1969. These killings reverberated around the world, and have been analyzed and obsessed over for half a century now.
The Manson Family Goes To Prison
The police first believed the Tate murders to be a drug-deal-gone-wrong scenario, or alternatively, a psychedelic get-together getting out of hand. It took authorities several months to find those responsible, with Manson and some of his followers getting arrested in December 1969.
The Tate-LaBianca murders trial began on July 24, 1970. Manson was eventually found guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, even though no evidence of Manson himself killing anyone existed.
He was sentenced to death two months after the sentencing, but a change in California’s laws in 1972 saved him, Watson, Leslie Van Houton, and Atkins from the gas chamber. According to the Toronto Sun, Fromme didn’t participate in the killings, but attended the trials nonetheless.
She tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975, for which she was imprisoned and released in 2009. She’s believed to live in upstate New York these days. Kasabian, meanwhile, testified against Manson — calling him “the devil,” and aiding in the effort to lock him up.
“I doubt we would have convicted Manson without her,” prosecutor and author Vincent Bugliosi confessed.
Patricia Krenwinkel is officially the longest-serving female inmate in California history. Van Houton has been behind bars for five decades now.
The Legacy Of Charles Manson
Across the decades behind bars, Manson received more letters than any other inmates in the United States. His legacy arguably grew bigger than ever before between 1969 and 1971, with his name and appearance alone permanently settling into American culture.
Though he tried to be released on parole a dozen times, the requests were always denied. He died of natural causes, behind bars, on Nov. 19, 2017, at 83 years of age.
After reading these 30 mesmerizing Charles Manson quotes, take a look at 21 serial killer quotes that will chill you to the bone. Next, check out these Charles Manson facts that demistify the monster.