Died when: 83 years 7 days
Star Sign: Scorpio
Charles Milles Manson (né Maddox, November 12, 1934 – November 19, 2017) was an American criminal and cult leader. In mid-1967, he formed what became known as the "Manson Family", a quasi-commune based in California. His followers committed a series of nine murders at four locations in July and August 1969. According to the Los Angeles County district attorney, Manson plotted to start a race war, though he and others disputed this motive. In 1971, he was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of seven people. The prosecution conceded that Manson never literally ordered the murders, but they contended that his ideology constituted an overt act of conspiracy. Manson was also convicted of first-degree murder for the deaths of Gary Hinman and Donald Shea. Manson was an unemployed ex-convict who had spent more than half of his life in correctional institutions at the time when he began gathering his cult following. Before the murders, he was a singer-songwriter on the fringe of the Los Angeles music industry, chiefly through a chance association with Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. In 1968, the Beach Boys recorded Manson's song "Cease to Exist", retitled "Never Learn Not to Love" as the B-side on one of their singles, but without a credit to Manson. The Los Angeles district attorney said that Manson was obsessed with the Beatles, particularly their 1968 self-titled album known as the "White Album". He claimed to be guided by his interpretation of the Beatles' lyrics and adopted the term "Helter Skelter" to describe an impending apocalyptic race war. At trial, the prosecution claimed that Manson and his followers believed that the murders would help precipitate that war. Other contemporary interviews and those who testified during the penalty phase of Manson's trial insisted that the Tate–LaBianca murders were copycat crimes designed to exonerate Manson's friend Bobby Beausoleil. From the beginning of Manson's notoriety, a pop culture arose around him and he became an emblem of insanity, violence, and the macabre. Recordings were released commercially of songs written and performed by Manson, starting with Lie: The Love and Terror Cult (1970). Various musicians have covered some of his songs. Manson was originally sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life with the possibility of parole after the California Supreme Court invalidated the state's death penalty statute in 1972. He served his life sentence at California State Prison, Corcoran and died at age 83 in late 2017.