Charles Manson and Helter Skelter

The Beatles and the Bible

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Charles Manson interpreted that Helter Skelter was something to do with the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. I still don't know what all that stuff is; it's from the Bible, Revelation - I haven't read it so I wouldn't know. But he interpreted the whole thing - that we were the four horsemen, Helter Skelter the song - and arrived at having to go out and kill everyone.
Paul McCartney

Manson's theory of Helter Skelter was closely bound to a belief that Revolution 9 was an aural depiction of chapter nine in the book of Revelation in the Bible. He saw The Beatles as embodying various facets of the book.

And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
Revelation 9, verse 1

This was variously interpreted by Manson as being about Stuart Sutcliffe, or about Manson himself.

And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.

And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth; and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

Revelation 9, verse 2-3

Locusts were taken by Manson to represent The Beatles. The reference to scorpions was deemed a reference to Manson, whose zodiac sign was Scorpio, and the rest of the Family. The bottomless pit was representative of the underground city where the Family was meant to retreat while Helter Skelter took place.

...and their faces were as the faces of men.

And they had hair as the hair of women...

Revelation 9, verse 7-8

Like Charles Manson, The Beatles - particularly John Lennon and George Harrison, had long hair.

And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.
Revelation 9, verse 15

The four angels were The Beatles; the "third part of men", in Manson's mind, represented the destruction of white people.

And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.
Revelation 9, verse 17

Manson thought the 'breastplates of fire' were The Beatles' electric guitars; the 'fire and smoke and brimstone' were the lyrics which he thought would initiate the Helter Skelter scenario.

There were numerous other references from Revelation 9 which Manson saw as anticipating the Helter Skelter scenario. However, these are the only ones directly connected, in his eyes, to The Beatles.

It's The Beatles, the music they're putting out. They're talking about war. These kids listen to this music and pick up the message. It's subliminal.
Charles Manson, 1970

21 responses on “Charles Manson and Helter Skelter

  1. Pat

    Let’s face it Charles Manson was evil and wanted revenge and picked the tate house. But I have to say this that I do believe a few of those songs on the White Album were written because of Charles Manson! Why do I believ that? Well Manson knew the Beach Boys and stood out in the crowd because of his weirdness. The Beach Boys probably spoke about Manson and his weird philosiphies and it got back to the Beatles. Also what is too strange is that they called the album the White album and meanwhile Manson hated blacks and wanted a race war. White album stood for the White race. Also Sexie Sadie is too directed to what Susan Atkins was doing. The Beach Boys proably played with her then later bragged to Beatles and music people that they had sexy sadie Susan Atkins. Beatles thought this is weird enough to write about. I don’t believe the Beatles wanted Charles Manson to do killing. I think they juste thought Charles Manson was strange but harmless. Anyway when Charles Manson turned out to be a mass murderer, the Beatles got shaken and tried to bluff their way out of some of those songs. I mean they did not know this horrible murder was going to happen.

    1. Deadman

      Your theory falls down, for a start, with your incorrect assumption that the Beatles called their album, “The Beatles”, the White Album. Your deluded belief is unsupported by any evidence other than your assertion that “The Beach Boys probably spoke about Manson and his weird philosiphies [sic] and it got back to the Beatles”, and further anachronistic, alleged probabilities piled on silly suppositions. “Sexy Sadie” was inspired by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
      “Album”, by the way, is Latin for “white thing”.

    2. BeatleFreak2

      Pat, I know this is a very late reply but as others have already said, Sexy Sadie was about the Maharishi. John wrote it & said as much. Sexy Sadie, what have you done? You made a fool of everyone……John got disillusioned with the Maharishi, as did Paul and Ringo. George got sour on him too but George always believed in the philosophy.

      And another thing. The Beatles didn’t call the White Album, the white album at first. Everyone else called it that and it stuck.

      The only song on the white album that I would like to hear how it came about is “Piggies.” Fit right in with what Manson thought, but the Beatles didn’t have a clue to who Manson was. Some dirty weird hippie guy in California. Young people were very anti-establishment at that time, so “Piggies” was probably just a dig at the establishment. Manson used it all to his advantage. The White Album came out in late 1968. The Manson murders happened in August, 1969.

  2. Jan

    Manson was one disturbed creature. Could you blame him for ending up like that though? Had a pretty rough life. Not defending him, or making excuses for him – because a lot of people have tough childhoods and don’t become murdering monsters. Just saying if your mom sold you to a pedophile for a glass of beer, how would you turn out?

  3. Jane

    To the above comments that the theory that charles manson sick theories were spoken and the Beach Boys heard it is not impossible. First of all the Beach Boys were working with Manson. Charles was strange. The Beach boys spoke alot with the Beatles and Charles Manson stood out. Why couldn’t a few of those songs in the White Album be about Charles? He was an odd character and stood out. Songwriters write about other people. So it makes sense. I don’t believe they directed Charles to kill no but it seems too much of a coincidence when I listen to the album.

    1. William

      Charles Manson and Dennis Wilson were acquaintances. The rest of the band thought Manson was crazy.

      It’s a leap in logic to say that they were “working together”.

  4. DrTomoculus

    Charles Manson received a visit from one George E. Shibley in March 1967 at his parole. Shibley was a very prominent Beverly Hills lawyer, with rich clientele, and some oil companies as clients. At this time, Manson was in for 10 years on forgery and parole offences. He wanted to stay in jail. One has to ask, why is a petty crook, mainly in for Dyer Act convictions, one count of prostitution, getting visits from a Beverly Hills lawyer.

    2 years later that same lawyer is representing Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin who did not assassinate RFK. When the Manson Murder trials began, Shibley was on board as “an old friend of Charlie”.

    It’s also funny how Sexy Sadie Susan Atkins was offered $150,000 to turn state’s evidence and say it was all done for Charlie.

    Never mind Terry Melcher, Derek Taylor and all that. Or Melcher and McCartney being on the board of directors of Monterey Pop. Or the Esalen Institute, where Manson and Family played 3 days before the murders, which should be called the Watson Murders.

    There’s a lot to that man and how he got to where he got, that you probably DON’T want to know, and how The Beatles played a part in it, knowingly or unknowingly, is anyone’s guess. C I A, you know, those guys who experimented with LSD before anyone ever heard of it in Haight Ashbury. You might want to ask them. Or how Polanski miraculously avoided prison when sodomising and drugging an underage girl.

    You just don’t want to know.

  5. Bill

    Black men being deprived of white women would go out & commit violent acts? Where did this come from? I don’t remember reading that in Vincent Bugliosi’s book…

  6. perjensen01

    Frankly, this article about Manson should be removed. It’s rather garish seeing his face (and story) on page 1 of a nice Beatles site, and in no way deserving of debate all these years later. The Beatles were so popular and influential that millions were deeply affected by it, enough to play albums backwards to reveal ‘hidden messages’, even play the record covers, analyze lyrics, emulate their hair, clothes, and Lennon’s glasses, as well as popularizing Indian classical music (sitar), including a little known religion (Hinduism), the idyllic self-search called meditation, even helped advance electronic technology considering their endless studio work. Manson was just one of these millions. His story is fascinating, but does not belong on a Beatles website.

    1. joe

      Well there are supposed to be hidden messages hidden in songs,ant The Beatles songs are what you make of them,thats pretty much the magic of them,because they are kinda weird i guess…idk my opinion…

  7. James M

    What is the source of the “November 25″ date for the Beatles door?
    There is testimony from one of the trials, claiming that specific people connected to Manson had an “advance copy of Abbey Road.” However this is not verifiable.

  8. Chris

    Charles Manson was a frustrated musician with some talent. He had enough talent that both Dennis Wilson and Neil Young advocated that he be signed to a record contract. This is important. If he would have been a completely talentless hack, he would have never had hope. He had hope and it was dashed over and over again. He blamed, among others, Terry Melcher (the Beach Boys producer and son of Doris Day) for his inability to seal the deal. Terry Melcher was the previous occupant to Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate at the Cielo Drive residence. Manson actually visited the place himself and talked to Tate, who told Manson that Melcher didn’t live there anymore. Still, Manson came away from the encounter that the house was an embodiment of the “establishment” and thought of it when he put out his order. He also hoped it would send Terry Melcher a message. The motivation of the “Helter Skelter” as Manson saw it may, or may not, have worked on his disciples, but I don’t believe for a second that Manson himself ever believed any of it – he just used it to manipulate some troubled runaways that would do anything for him.

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