music and murder

The Beach Boys' Weirdo Connection To Charles Manson

Before we get into the meat of this story, here's a weird fact you might have heard already, maybe even from us: One song by The Beach Boys, "Never Learn Not to Love," was written by Charles Manson. If you've heard this fact before without any details, you might think that Manson had some kind of career in the music industry before he went weird (those murders meant he was connected with a bunch of stars in Los Angeles, right?). But this connection was more than professional—for a while, Beach Boy Dennis Wilson was actually sharing a house with the Manson Family, once Manson had already become a cult leader.

By "a house," we mean Wilson's own house. The family moved in, took over, and Wilson had to flee and abandon all his belongings to escape the family's clutches.

It all started in April 1968, when Wilson picked up a couple of hitchhiking women. If you've seen Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, picture that scene where Brad Pitt's character picks up a Manson follower played by Margaret Qualley; the women of the Family used this tactic repeatedly to lure in new followers. The two hitchhikers offered to come over to Wilson's place. Wilson didn't realize they'd take up residence following the one-night stand, or that their guru Charles and his other followers would move in as well.

Fellow Beach Boy Brian Wilson would later describe coming to dinner at Dennis' place, and seeing him with Manson and a bunch of the Manson girls, all naked. An LSD orgy followed dinner, and when he declined to take part and just went for a shower, a naked Charles tried to join him there—and warned him that leaving "the group" was not an option. 

Brian got the hell out of the house that night, but Dennis stayed behind of course, and for a while, he seemed trapped. The family occupied his home for months, racking up close to a million dollars in expenses (in today's money). including a large amount just on STD treatments. Dennis publicly spoke highly of Manson and said he was happy that the family were relieving him of the burden of wealth, which sounds truly like something only a cult member would say. 

Fortunately, after half a year of this (during which time Manson recorded the song that would later be "Never Learn Not to Love"), Wilson finally grew scared enough of the family to leave. The part that scared him, according to him? Oh, just witnessing the family commit some actual murders. Not the eventual Tate–LaBianca murders, other murders, ones still not officially tied to the family. We're glad Dennis avoided becoming an official member of the Family, as he was arguably the most important Beach Boy. Mainly because he was the only member of the famous surfing group who ever actually surfed. 

For more Manson tales, check out:

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