1985 - Charles Manson interview with KALX
KALX: (narration) I began by asking Manson about his friendship with Alvin Creepy Karpis, the last surviving member of the Ma Barker Gang, who taught him how to play the guitar.
Manson: Karpis showed me some— you know, guitar players trade rubs all the time. They show each other different things that they play. He just showed me some of the things that he played. But his style of music was not my style of music, but even though I incorporated some of his repertoire into what I play. He was just a good old man that I met down the road. He had been done wrong also. He never did anything. J. Edgar Hoover just put him in jail because he was friends of people who did something and he wouldn’t snitch. And he wouldn’t tell. In other words he held his mud for 48 years.
KALX: How about yourself— do you categorize yourself in the same way?
Manson: I don’t categorize myself. Do you?
KALX: Do you think you’ve been done wrong?
Manson: Oh, yeah. You’re way off base. They said I was a hippie. I’m not a hippie. I was a beatnik before the hippies got started. I was a beatnik down in Venice pounding on them bongos and reciting poetry in the fifties— fifty-four, fifty-five. And when I got out and I seen what they did with the beat generation— they ate the beat generation up and they had the hippies on the block. And they was fixing to eat the hippies up like they ate the beats up. That’s where they made the mistake with me; they picked me up with the hippies and said I was a hippie. I wasn’t a hippie. I was a beatnik. Before the hippies; you guys were kids— they were kids to me. I had already went through that. I was Elvis Presley before he was.
KALX: I understand that you are now going to be producing an album with the punk rock band Black Flag.
Manson: If you look at everything backwards; Terry Melcher came to me. I didn’t go to him. They came to me to play music. Dennis Wilson came to me in the mountains, I wasn’t going down there to try and play music. The D.A. would say… the D.A. would say, “You was trying for a record career.” I had a record career. I didn’t want a record career. I just got out of one prison, I didn’t want to go into another. When you do music, or you do anything for the public you got to be a slave to that. You got to be there on time, you got to carry clocks, and dollar bills, tax trips, you got all kinds of things to do. I was free in the mountains, why would I want a music career for? I got a music career, I don’t need— you know— I play music for music. I don’t play music for attention. I don’t play music to little girls. I’m not selling records. I don’t play music like you guys play music. You’re blocked up in little squares when you play music. I don’t play music like that.
KALX: So, you aren’t doing it for the public’s interest. Purely for your own enjoyment.
Manson: No, yeah, it’s for my own enjoyment. And I found out in California in order to get justice, you must buy it. They will not give you what they call, “fair trials.” If you have the rights that our fathers died for, I would have had my trial and I would have had my rights and my day in court, but I didn’t. All I got was you guys blame me for the sixties. Then Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman and Timothy Leary and Bobby Ramdass and all the Holy Morocos, they all run the other way when it got too nasty. They would tell their children, “Raise up and kill your mom and dad.” But when they raised up and killed their mom and dad, then all the people that said that ran. Then they blamed it over on me and said, “Oh, well Charlie Manson’s a hippie cult leader and he made the kids do all that.” But none of them kids that got busted said that.
KALX: At one time did you feel any, you know, infinity, to them?
Manson: Sure, I still love them, sure. They’re still like mine. They’re like me. They’re like street people. It’s like this man: Back in the forties, when I’d be on the basketball court, for example. And all the kids would say, “Hey! Your mom’s calling you, Billy!” So, Billy would leave and John would leave and Tom would leave and I’d be sitting on a basketball smoking a joint. And I was unaccepted and I was the outcast. So, I ended up stealing a bicycle and I went to reform school. And I get out ten years later and I go back to the neighborhood and I go back to the basketball court and everybody’s grown up— there’s a whole new wave of kids there. So we sit and we talk and I say, “What ever happened to Johnnie?” “Well, he died in Korea.” “Whatever happened to Joe?” “Oh, he’s an automobile engineer out in Detroit.” and “Whatever happened to so and so?” “Well, he moved to Chicago…” And then I steal a car and I get a gun and I go rob a few places. And then I come back out of prison after ten years and I go back over on the basketball court. And the time for Johnnie to go home, Johnnie doesn’t go home and at the basketball court there’s ten or fifteen kids after dark; “What are you kids doing out after dark? Well, ain’t you going to go home for dinner?” “Oh, no my mom kicked me out of the house. My mom’s a drunk, she don’t like me.” In other words, the last time I gout out in sixty-seven, the road that I was waking on— HEY! There’s a whole bunch of kids walking on that same road. I said, “Well I didn’t know you knew this place.”
KALX: So, in other words, you feel you had your bed laid for you early on?
Manson: No, when I heard Timothy Leary say, “Tune in and drop out,” I knew where they were dropping out to. Because I had been under that— on the under road— on the backside of what’s happening. In other words, the darkness.
KALX: Do you have a resentment for the certain types of things you did encounter as a child?
Manson: No, I don’t waste my time with those silly little resentments, hate and all that bitterness and all that.
KALX: Did it have an effect on you at one time?
Manson: Um, just to the point to where I found out what it does to you. In other words, I’m not going to destroy myself cause someone else is suicidal. If someone else got problems, that’s their problems, not mine. I got my own road that I walk on.
KALX: So, in other words you don’t feel any remorse for your childhood. But you do feel it did effect you in your outcomes.
Manson: No, I’m glad to be raised by myself. I think it worked out better. Sometimes the best parents are the worst parents. And sometimes the worst parents are the best. Cause the worst parents don’t teach you anything and they leave you to learn for yourself.
KALX: But you do understand that from somebody else’s perspective, they may have felt that they were detrimental, do you regret anything that occurred in your lifetime?
Manson: Not to this point, no.
KALX: Okay, let me get back to your music. I had mentioned earlier that you are cutting an album with group known…
Manson: No, no, no. I got a little tape recorder like this little Mickey Mouse thing here. And in fact it’s not as good as that. And I play a little music and I sing a little music. What happened was I gave a couple tapes I had made to a friend of mine. About four years ago. And he said he wanted to do something with them. And I told him to go ahead and do whatever you do. So, he got in touch with some kind of lawyer somewhere doing something and then they got this thing going. And now they’re talking that they are coming out with an album.
KALX: This is the US Magazine article?
Manson: Well, yeah. Yeah. But it’s not an album done in a studio. It’s a Mickey Mouse little trip for— but knowing the way the news media has dealt with me, they will take it as the best thing that I can do. But it’s actually not a reflection of any music that I play. It’s a reflection of me passing my time and practicing. I guess you could call it practicing— I’m not really practicing, I like to play.
KALX: You mentioned that in 1967, you did strike up a relationship with Terry Melcher and Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. Terry Melcher was the person who had owned the home that Sharon Tate was murdered in earlier. And obviously there were some connections made between the previous ownership of the home and the eventual death of Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring and Abigail Folger and Voytek Frykowski. Was there any connection between those events?
Manson: That’s my neighborhood. I run that neighborhood. I run in that neighborhood. I live on the beach. I live in Venice, Santa Monica, in the mountains, and I went to that house four or five times with a friend of mine that’s named Deane Morehouse. He’s a religious type guy— Deacon in the Methodist Church. And I been to the house at parties. And Watson— Tex Watson— knew the house, because he was on the edge of what I was doing. He was watching the way I was doing what I was doing, putting together whatever I was putting together, so he picked that house. Just went to that house because he knew the house. But it didn’t directly have anything to do with me.
KALX: So it was just coincidence that it happened to be previously owned by Terry Melcher?
Manson: Yeah, total coincidence.
KALX: Tell me about your relationship with Mr. Melcher and how you happen to describe him.
Manson: I like him. I like Terry. Terry is a nice gentle person. He’s a peaceful person. He doesn’t lie. He’s treated me right. I would consider him a friend. But I think all this madness has scared him. I think it scared him into thinking that I am somebody I am not. A lot of people think that Manson is some great monster, but the only monster Manson is what the media created. And the District Attorney created. Do you guys realize what’s going to happen to this country because of that case? When you can go to college, son, and learn to be a lawyer, and you can go to the District Attorney’s position, and do anything you want, that makes you the leader of this country. And put anybody on trial and say anything you want to say. And tell any lie you want to lie. Why spend billions of dollars for a school to study criminology when all they do is sit up on the witness stand and lie? Just lie, and then you don’t need the schools. The whole thing was a big sham. It was a big act for the world— a big play. They put the children on trial for trying to stop the war and then all the people like Joan Baez and what’s that— what’s that other chick’s name?
KALX: You mean Jane Fonda?
Manson: Yeah, and Jane Fonda and all those people, they will all scream and holler for the kids to do something. And when the kids do it, then they say that the kids are all fucked up. The only ones that bring change since time began is the young people. The young people are the ones that have to suffer the sufferings to change the system. But we’re still working to change the system, we’re still improving the system, we’re working within the system.
KALX: So, are you saying the murders of Sharon Tate and the LaBiancas was a political act?
Manson: My goodness man, ain’t you see Jerry Rubin stand up in the TV camera with an M-16 and say, “Raise up children and kill your moms and dads?” You didn’t see that? You don’t remember that?
Manson: You didn’t put him on trial. You got Charlie Manson and put Charlie Manson on trial. Did you hear Abbie Hoffman go to all the colleges and give them all speeches to all the young minds about how to shoot cocaine? How to deal with your dope and how to play in that underworld. And at the same time, he never spent three days in jail. He owns the judge. He buys and sells judges. And he rides on the top of your children. And he’ll go back and play like he’s hiding. Let me explain something to you. To hide from the F.B.I. in the United States of America is almost an impossibility. Slick Willy Sutton, one of the slickest crooks in the world, couldn’t do it. You got Patti Hearst, and you got her acting like she’s on the run from the law. She was never on the run from the law. She was in the F.B.I. office all the time. And you got Abbie Hoffman that acts like, “We’re with you kids, alright you kids, go do this…” And then the kids go and do it, then who gets the blame? The kids get the blame. And the kids go down to, “Let me take you to Strawberry Fields where nothing is real,” but the medication in the nut wards. And then they cut their wrists and write, “I love you God” all over the walls and hang themselves on the ventilators.
KALX: You take deference with the use of drugs and drinking. Is that an established value of yours that you don’t like drinking and drugs? Or is that any time…
Manson: I smoke grass and I’ve lived around drugs all my life. I lived around booze all my life. I’m not against anything. I’m against the misuse. You can misuse anything. You can say a guy’s hooked on marijuana. And to some people that’s a reality. And then they say, “One drug leads to another.” And to other people that’s a reality. But the younger don’t see how those thoughts became a reality. Why are we fighting drugs? Why are we spending millions and millions of dollars fighting drugs when you can sell it in a drug store and it wouldn’t be a problem? It don’t make any sense. The whole thing is silly. It’s not the drugs that are bad, and it’s not the people that are bad. It’s all the mess that you got created around the misunderstanding of the drugs. There’s nothing wrong with drugs. If you’re sick in the hospital, and they come and give you a shot to take away the pain, you appreciate the drugs. I think God put everything there for us to use. if we misuse it, that’s our fault. One way we’re misusing it is we’re fighting against a power we’re not going to overcome. We got to flow with the flow of those drugs.
KALX: Last September, you were severely burned by a fellow inmate who doused you in paint thinner and lit a match. You know, he said you attacked his religious beliefs and threatened him. Was this just an isolated conflict between two inmates, or…
Manson: Uh, it was in his mind. I didn’t have anything in my mind. I’m not thinking about anything. He’s arguing with himself. The devil he is chasing is the one he’s living with; it’s inside of him. His fears and his doubts, he has to deal with. Now, it ain’t got anything to do with me. He could have got more argument from the churchhouse than he got from me. I ain’t got no religious convictions in any particular direction. I’m my own religion.
KALX: There’s been much publicity surrounding the fact that you were allegedly known as Jesus Christ and that the Manson Family was quote “The chosen few.”
Manson: That’s part of the District Attorney. He had to sell all of that to win a conviction. He had to hook me up as being a leader in something. I’ve never lead anything in my life. I had a motorcycle, a sleeping bag, and a guitar. And that’s it. If anybody is on the same road as I’m on and they need a cigarette, or a dollar bill, or a ride hitchhiking, I generally help them as much as I can. I never owned that ranch. I wasn’t the central figure in anything except the music I liked— I liked to play music. People come around and listened. Okay. If they give me something to eat. Okay. If they don’t, okay man. I wasn’t waving any flags. I wasn’t out to do anything. I just got out of twenty-two years of prison. I just got out of prison. Can you imagine twenty-two years in prison? Can you imagine that?
KALX: It is hard to imagine.
Manson: Well, I just got out. How could I be responsible for the children of the sixties when I was locked up in the dungeon all during the sixties? And as far as me being Jesus, let me this— this is a little before your time. There was a guy named Krishna Venta who claimed that he was the second-coming of Jesus Christ. And he had a cult in Box Canyon in Los Angeles. He called it The Fountain of the World. And he was having a sex orgy one night with about twelve or fifteen women. And in those days, back during the forties, that wasn’t very well accepted. So, what happened was that someone put dynamite up underneath his house and blew him up. Blew him up, his wife, and all his children up. Blew everybody up. Blew fifteen or twenty people up. There was bodies all— I was a kid looking at this. It just so happened that twenty-five years later I was standing on that same spot with fifteen women. And there had been fifteen people that blew up. And we laughed and we got in a circle and said, “We were blew up here once. So, we won’t have to blow the world up. Maybe we could make a little mark here where we won’t need to blow the world up. And the next wave of kids can have their games straighten out in another end of it.” Like the Air, the Water, the Trees and the Wildlife. There’s a certain order in life. The order to each man would be himself first. Then after you got yourself in order then you can reach for your city, your town, country, or world. So it’s a guy— was trying to put order into his life. He would preach on the weekends and he’d hang up on a cross and he would come down and he had all these followers. Alright, when I got out I was running with a guy named Jesús— called himself Christopher Jesús. And the cops had a tentative list because we were burning up road equipment that was tearing up the land. They were destroying the water and destroying the animals in the deserts. So what I did was I would go around and burn up all these things that were tearing up the earth. And I would sneak around and do devilish little things to slow their progress down. Because when you see two or three hundred thousand animals dying because somebody wants to put a fence up across the desert for no particular reason except making money and selling something to the public for a new road production, ruffgafflammer and all that madness that they play in. And I’d tear the fences down, and tear the water, and put the water back into the land where the animals would have a game to play. And Jesús was running with me and we called him Zero. And then when the cops had this list— a tentative list of who’s who and what’s what— they come up to me and said, “Are you Jesus?” because Jesús was spelled like Jesus. I said, “No, my name is Manson.” They said, “Oh yeah, you’re him. Son of Man— Manson. Yes, you’re him.” I says, “What?” So, when they booked me in the county jail, they thought it was real funny. They booked me as also known as Jesus Christ. I had never had any thought like that in my life. I never needed to think that I was anyone. You know, why must I be somebody, you know? I mean, everybody’s got a name. I had thousands of names. I don’t need a name. What do I need a name for? I don’t even name my dogs. My dogs is just dogs. I don’t name my chickens— I don’t make no sense. The whole thing. I’m from another world, man. You guys live in one kid of world. I live in whole all-together different world. Cause you have to consider that I was raised up in jail and on the street. And as far as the religious aspect, I was a student of Paramahansa Yogananda in the fifties and the forties. I went to all the retreats and I’ve seen the light. I know of all the things that the Mashimushi knows— Shibashi or whatever you want to call it.
KALX: What is prison life like for you? At one time you said that prison has become home to you.
Manson: Prison is a thought. Prison is in the mind. Somebody draws a line and says you’re in prison. I’m gonna put you in prison and your number is 3359, and you’re gonna do raburabbarara and he says, “Struggle of will is struggle of whose will is doing what. If their will is interposed over your will, then you’re considered to be in prison.” But as Gandhi would tell you probably, is the passive force— the passive force overcomes all of that. There’s no prison, not to me. I’m just here. The people that are in prison are locked up in their minds. They get paid to go back and forwards and torment other people and I just look at them. That doesn’t effect me. Not personally.
KALX: So do you still consider prison home in that sense?
Manson: I am home. Anywhere I’m at is home. If I’m in Chicago, I’m still here. Anywhere I go, I’m here. If I’m in New York, I’m still here. If I’m in Florida, I’m still here. No matter where I go, I’m here. So, home to me is me. I am my own home, because I was raised by myself. But someone that was raised with a mother and father, they have the thoughts in their minds and the patters in their minds to whatever home is to them.
KALX: Do you consider the idea of being released? Do you want to be released from prison?
Manson: Released? I just want to be left alone and I’d like to have my own will back to where I can do what I want to do. I would be content and satisfied with the rights my fathers died for. It’s simple; it was all written down in 1776, it’s laid out just as beautiful as if God had done it. And everybody wants to find a God somewhere, and we got people landing on the Moon. My goodness. It’s like one guy come up and says, “My God quarried thirty-two hundred stone, and lifted it up over these mountains and set it perfectly in place. And I said, “Oh, yeah, you got a big God. Not low look up there a that 747. That’s more than thirty-two hundred tons, and it’s not only set in perfect place, it’s flying around the world.” So, how far would you have to go to see God? You see space shuttles and you say “God,” and these guys are still down here worshiping something that some medieval torture chamber was doing— nailing people to boards and things and calling it “God.” I don’t— see, I dismissed that world a long time ago. Really, I have. I dismissed it, it’s gone from my mind. I don’t— It comes over and says, “You pay me some attention.” And I say, “No.” “Well, you accept our God as being the God.” I say, “Alright. I will accept anything. Now can I get on with my business?” They say, “Well, we want you to…” I say, “Okay! You’re alright. I accept everything you say, everythings perfect. Alright. You guys go your way, can I leave now?” They say, “No we want to hold you.” I say, “Why?” “Because we want to pick arguments with you and throw fire on you and drag you up and down the hallways and blame you for everything we don’t understand and everything we don’t know.” I say, “Hey, looks. Sit down and I’ll explain it to you. How simple and childish it is. You all grew up, I didn’t.” You all grew up and I didn’t. I watched you all grow up and I say, “Wow far out.” You get old, lose your teeth, and your hair falls out and you get bags and you pay yourself to do all kinds of crazy little things. And I have no judgements against your world, only what “is.” But you guys have always— not you, I am talking about the system— have always put your judgements on me, trying to make me into something that you can relate to. But you can’t relate to me, unless you’re me.
KALX: So in other words, if you were released you would be content to that fact?
Manson: No, somebody’s gonna pay. Somebody’s gonna pay one way or another. If the court rooms are in order, I’m going to sue. I’m gonna sue. I’m gonna sue for everything California’s got. I’ll own California by time this is over. If I sue. Now, if I can’t sue, that’s okay too. Then I’ll start a revolution. I won’t say that I’ve already got one going, but look around you and maybe you will see… it’s like this: A guys comes up to you and he’s called the District Attorney. He’s got all these guys, and he handcuffs you and sets you down. And he says, “You’re gonna play this game whether you want to play it or not.” So, he starts dealing out cards and deals you “Hippie Cult Leader.” You don’t know what a hippie cult leader is. There’s never been a hippie cult leader. So you gotta find out what a hippie cult leader is. So, I got a hippie cult leader card. I got nine murder cards. I supposed to be responsible for making all these people do all these things. I’m supposed to have this awesome power to move people to destruction and have the power of the presidency. That I can put troops in the field and have them fight and die and take other people’s lives— for me. I’m a whole government by myself. Convicted to be that. That’s not me. But they convicted me for Nixon. They gave me all of Nixon’s problems and all of Nixon’s children and they say I’m Nixon and they convict me and throw me in the jail. And then everyone of my friends— that you call my family— were my friends, not my family. My friends. They didn’t have any friends. The District Attorney has no friends. His friends is a dollar bill and his wife that tells him what to do. So, I’ve got friends. And he doesn’t like me because I got friends. He hates me because I got friends. Because he wants friends, but he doesn’t know how to have friends. He plays tennis with himself— you see them in college, you dig. And they study their books, and they get real good and they are efficient in what they do. But they’re still distorted in their makeup because they haven’t accepted that there are somebody else in the world besides their own selfish interests.
KALX: You disemboweled the designation of “The Manson Family,” that was something that was projected on you…
Manson: I am Manson Family. My will: I say, “Open my hand,” it opens. I say, “Close my hand,” it closes. My will. My hands, my fingers, me. My heart, my soul, my self, me. I have earned that. It’s like I told the judge, “I know, God knows, and the Holy Spirit knows.” And what you’re selling down at the marketplace, your children are going to have to work that off. So, I would suggest that you don’t sell them a whole bunch of lies. But they continue to sell that damn Helter Skelter trip that had nothing to do with me. Helter Skelter to me was a nightclub in the desert. And I cut the card game a nickel so I could buy dunebuggy parts and go out and play in the desert.
KALX: Let me ask you what the connection is between the Helter Skelter, which was written on the LaBianca’s refrigerator and you had written your own song composition called Helter Skelter…
Manson: I had?
KALX: Had you not?
Manson: Who told you that? No. No, I hadn’t. I hadn’t even thought of anything like that. Helter Skelter was painted on different things, man. And it was a reflection of “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road.” That was— you see, you people gotta realize, man, I’m fifty years old. Bing Crosby was my heartthrob. Frank Sinatra was my hero. Not the Beatles. In other words, Dean Martin lives right across the river from where I lived in Wheeling, West Virginia. I’m from Kentucky, I’m a Kentucky boy. In other words, like, it took me twenty-something years to get to California. Some of you guys are born and raised in California, because your parents came here. But, I ain’t got no thought… you know. I’m not into the same things you guys are into. Not now and not during the sixties. In other words, my generation was the thirties. I was raised up during the depression. You guys don’t even know what it is like to be hungry. There’s a difference. And the kids— the kids that were running the streets when I got out, I liked them. I really did. I really— if they were my kids, I’d be awful proud of them. Even though they did some dirty-terrible things, they still stopped the war. They did it. And they probably saved a lot of their brothers’ lives. But they’re still in jail and they take the blame for it. They’re not accepted as political prisoners because some D.A. had to make up something or somebody else make up a lie and say, “Well, he did it for money,” or there’s all kinds of motives that they play with but did you ever think that he didn’t do it? You’re always looking for the motive, before you find out whether he did it. And another thing is you go to court in this country and they’re not interested in why you did it, they’re only interested if you did it. But why you did it should be an issue, also. Why are the children doing what they are doing? Why does a child reach up and kill his mom and dad and murder his two little sisters and then cut his throat? Why would a child do something like that? Because we are not raising it up right. We’re programming it poorly. Our TVs are murdering people every fifteen minutes. You see two or three people dying on TV— to the generation of the sixties and seventies,well the TVs are raising the children. The TVs their moms and dads.
[end part 1]