Dennis Wilson ghosted Charles Manson in 1968. Before the Beach Boy quietly moved to a new address without telling Charlie and his gang, he had let the group crash at his Laurel Canyon mansion 24/7. They used Dennis Wilson’s laid back attitude to invade his home and take advantage of his resources. The Manson Family ran up doctor bills treating the constant waves of STDs that rippled through the group — Dennis himself had to take more trips to the doctor during their time with him — and ordered huge amounts of gourmet food and juice on his tab. They even crashed Wilson’s uninsured Mercedes. It was time for Dennis to move on.
Dennis ended up in this situation as a result of his own generosity. He was used to giving friends, and even strangers he just met, plenty of food and drugs. If he thought you were cool, he had no problem inviting you up to his sprawling home, a log cabin that was once Will Roger’s hunting lodge. Some of Dennis’ close friends have speculated that his compulsion to give may have stemmed from the guilt he felt over his wealth and fame.
He often picked up hitchhikers, so it wasn’t a stretch that he’d invite Patricia Krenwickel and Ella Jo Bailey (a.k.a. “Yeller”) into his car. As was usual for him, Dennis extended the girls’ welcome to his home where he served them raw milk and cookies. Although the girls were unaware who Dennis Wilson was, they used the opportunity to spread the message about their guru Charlie, a spiritual leader AND an aspiring musician. When they left, Dennis told them he hoped he would see them sometime again.
When Charlie found out who Yeller and Pat had spent an evening with, he spun with excitement. This was his chance to break into the music industry, and Charlie decided that he and his entire clan had to meet Dennis right away. They loaded up and went back to the luxurious cabin to find Dennis Wilson away, but his doors unlocked. Instead of coming back later, or even waiting outside, they let themselves in. When the musician returned home in the quiet hours of the morning, he was greeted by the Charles Manson Family, and he responded more amicably to this surprise invasion than most people would.
Charlie had legitimate charms for Dennis Wilson. He actually had a talent for songwriting, and his singing was pretty solid. He also had a bevy of girls who were convinced that their role in life was to meet the needs of men. Charles’ behavior could be domineering and erratic, but he had a charismatic personality that often successfully counteracted some of the repulsion his behavior elicited.
Charles Manson’s long term goals were always to be famous. When he couldn’t achieve that, he decided to be infamous. He spent most of his youth in jail and used that time to work on his songs. He even made a connection in the music industry before he was released from a stint in prison in 1967. His fellow inmate, Phil Kaufman, had some real pull in the music industry, and his recommendation allowed Charlie to get the audience of Universal talent agent Gary Stromberg.
He arrived at his big meeting with Stromberg barefoot and convinced Stromberg to give him some time in the recording studio. When the session day arrived, Charlie failed to impress the talent agent as a musician, but did manage to catch his eye as a potential for new film about a modern Jesus Christ that Universal was considering.
It wasn’t just Charlie’s look that got his attention, it was his philosophy. They spent a lunch on the beach with Charlie and some of his girls to discuss scripture, and Charlie explained how the Bible instructed women to submit to men. To demonstrate, he asked Lynne “Squeaky” Fromme to kiss his feet. He returned the gesture to prove that women who submitted should be rewarded.
Although nothing much came of his meetings with Universal, infiltrating Dennis Wilson’s life was Charlie’s latest opportunity to strike it big. Although he preached against material possessions, he and his followers got used to a luxurious lifestyle at Dennis’ house. When they later lived in want and squalor on Spahn Ranch and Barker Ranch, Charlie assured him that he would soon have a big recording contract that would secure enough resources to keep his Family comfortable.
PART 2 coming soon: –> Find out what Dennis Wilson did to incite Manson’s anger.
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