Charles Manson and Beach Boys drummer, Dennis Wilson had a bizarre friendship…
The year was 1968. Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, had divorced his first wife Carol Freedman and was now living a rebellious and luxurious life in a huge house on Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California. During the spring of 1968, whilst cruising the Sunset Strip, Dennis stopped to pick up two female hitchhikers. He invited them back to his pad for drinks and food. Back at his place on Sunset Boulevard, Dennis had begun talking to them about Transcendental Meditation, the benefits, lifestyle, how it all interested him.
The two hitchhikers responded to his spiel that they, too, look up to a spiritual leader, named Charles. After talking for a while, the hitchhikers had left his home and Dennis left for a night out on the town. Coming home, he pulled into his driveway to discover his lights inside were turned on and a school bus was parked outside his place. A small man paced toward him through the dim lit streets. Dennis called out and asked the man if intended to hurt him. Charles Manson replied, “Do I look like I’m going to?” and dropped to his knees, kissing Wilson’s feet once he reached him.
The display of affection and humility began the bizarre and unusual friendship between a cult leader and a Beach Boy.
Wilson Opened His Home to Manson’s Family…
As Dennis begun sharing his property to Manson, Manson began sharing Dennis’s hospitality to the 20-30 female companions and group members that were involved with Charles. Inititally, Dennis didn’t really care. Rock N Roll icons were accustomed to hitchhikers, squatters, and all the partying that came with that sort of career. Besides, Manson was also a musician, so they had quite a lot in common. Dennis basked in Manson’s unusual ideas of how the world operated. He also basked in the LSD that was shared, and the women that always came by.
Manson, at the time, was looking to land a record deal. So Wilson took it upon himself to introduce Charles to his musical friends and industry leaders. Neil Young quotes him as an improvisational genius, and talent agents wanted to start a documentary about Manson and his “family.”
But Contrary to Neil Young, Other Musicians Found Him To Be A Creep
Doris Day’s son, Terry Melcher was a close friend of Dennis Wilson, and Manson primarily targeted him to impress him with some of his music. Melcher was a producer for Columbia Records and found Manson to be a flat out “creep.” His stare is what made Melcher avoid him. Along with Melcher, the rest of the Beach Boys weren’t fond of Manson. Singer of the Beach Boys, Mike Love wrote in his memoir that he went to Dennis’s house for dinner one night and came to find out that everyone was enjoying dinner naked that night. An LSD oriented orgy post dinner was too much for Mike to handle so he excused himself and was scolded by Manson. Through it all, Wilson truly believed in Manson becoming a star and connected him with the Beach Boys label to set up a recording session. This connection ended abruptly when Manson pulled out a knife on the studio engineer. Mike Love would also make note in his memoir that Wilson confessed that he had seen Manson at one point shoot someone and stuff the body down a well.
The Friendship Ends Between Wilson and “The Family”
Couple months pass, along with a couple thousand dollars, or should we say a hundred thousand dollars that paid for the “Family’s” food, medical bills and damages. As the friendship ended, some say Wilson retreated himself from Manson and left goodbyes for the landlord to handle. The house’s lease expired and “The Family” was evicted. But others have suspected Wilson of kicking out the family himself. Either way, the friendship was left in the dust of Sunset Boulevard. On top of kicking out Manson, Wilson had become so angry and tired, that he stole one of Manson’s songs, “Cease to Exist” and renamed it “Never Learn Not To Love” and took sole credit for the record. Towards the end of 1968, The Beach Boys released Manson’s song and took credit for the song. This enraged Charles and triggered him to threaten Dennis. Manson took a bullet from his pocket and showed it to Wilson, suggesting it’d be worth his while to keep his children away from him. Dennis retaliated Manson’s threat by beating him up.
When 1969 rolled around, the genocide that Manson preached about started to take place after he finally snapped. He couldn’t land the record deal with Melcher, Dennis’s friend from Columbia Records, and Manson ordered “The Family” to kill everyone at Melcher’s property, the same house Melcher denied Manson of visiting when they first met. Melcher had moved out of that house months before Manson’s orders, so when “The Family” showed up, they found Sharon Tate (whom was married to Roman Polanski at the time) and her friends…. The next day “The Family” was ordered to kill Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.
Wilson Finds Out About the Murders
A few months after the murders, Dennis learned along with the rest of the world that Manson had committed such horrible killings, making all of Hollywood fear for their life. Mike Love would note in his memoir, he noticed Wilson carried the guilt of association to Charles Manson for the rest of his life and possibly triggered Wilson to act in such irrational ways that caused him to drown at age 39.
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