As someone long fascinated by the Manson Murders case, I’ve taken a special interest in the late Dennis Wilson, drummer of The Beach Boys and one-time friend of Charles Manson.
His time with Manson scarred his mind and soul for the rest of his life, something that’s evident if you listen to the entirety of his solo album from the ’70s, Pacific Ocean Blue.
The story of Dennis Wilson is an extreme case study in what happens when you make sex, drugs and booze the center of your world. In this case, it’s the story of a guy whose off-the-rails pleasure seeking led him into the baddest of the bad crowds. His troubles began when he picked up two girls who were hitchhiking on the side of the road. He took them home and had sex with them, and in short order the entire Manson clan moved into his house.
One of those girls, Patricia Krenwinkel, would end up with a lot of blood on her hands, participating in two nights of murder, first at the home of Sharon Tate and then at the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.
Wilson didn’t mind having the family around at first. They provided him with a steady supply of sex and drugs. Manson wanted to use Wilson’s connections as a way into the music industry so he could become a recording star and spread his apocalyptic visions in his songs. He particularly wanted help from Terry Melcher, son of Doris Day.
Wilson introduced them and there was talk of a record contract, but Melcher was immediately creeped out by Manson and never came through on the promises Manson claims he made. Melcher was the resident of 10050 Cielo Drive immediately before Sharon Tate moved in, and though Manson knew Melcher was no longer living there, the speculation is that he picked that house to scare Melcher.
Long after Manson and his core followers went to prison, guilt continued to eat away at Wilson. He had something of a career comeback as a solo artist, but his substance abuse continued until late December 1983, when he drowned.
I sympathize with Wilson. Having had my own bouts of addictive behavior, I’ve always considered myself lucky that I was able to find my footing, remember where my priorities belonged and ditched the friends who were most likely to get me into trouble. Many are not so lucky, and when your soul is damaged all the money in the world won’t fix it.
Below is the first in a series of YouTube videos called “Cease to Exist.” It tells the story of Wilson and the Manson family in details never before covered, giving viewers a deeper insight into the world of addiction and depression. I highly recommend you watch the whole thing when you have time.