Starship Shares a TLB-Related Excerpt From the Book:
"Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY and the Lost Story of 1970", by David Browne. Copyright 2011
Starship provides some background/bibliography:
Browne is a writer for Rolling Stone magazine.
For this book, he apparently had access to Rolling Stone's vast archives of information, including previously unpublished interviews which he mentions quite a bit. The bibliography for this book cites 48 other books, HELTER SKELTER among them. Additionally he cites a number of articles, two of which are relevant here:
1) A Washington Post Article (whose abtract I cannot get to paste correctly), titled "Beatle Asked to Testify at Tate Trial", published Oct 29, 1970
The defense wants John Lennon of the Beatles to testify in the Sharon Tate murder trial on whether one of the group's songs could have inspired Charles Manson to violence.
2) A New York Times article, titled "Tate Jury Denied Death-Site Visit; Judge in Trial of Manson Bars After-Dark Trip" By Earl Caldwell, January 19, 1971, Page 29.
[ DISPLAYING ABSTRACT ]
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 18 -- The Tate-La Bianca jury interrupted its deliberations today with a surprising request for permission to make an after-dark visit to the sites of the murders for which Charles M. Manson and his women co-defendants are being tried.
Browne also claims as primary source materials interviews he conducted in person, by phone, or over email between November 2008 and September 2010. Relevant here is that he lists Nils Lofgren Danny Kortchmar, Dan Richter, and Vincent Bugliosi as people he interviewed during this time.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Now for the Excerpt of TLB-Related Text/Info:
As Charles Manson stared at him, an "X" mark freshly carved into his forehead with a razor blade (the infamous swastika came later), "Vincent Bugliosi prepared to tell the world why Manson had convinced some of his followers to kill. Bugliosi knew some in the legal community would think the sad-eyed deputy district attorney of Los Angeles County was crazy. But now, in the Hall of Justice on the morning of July 24, the first day of the State of California vs. Charles Manson and six of his followers, Bugliosi knew the time had arrived to tell the world that the Beatles indirectly had something to do with it.
Rumors about the connection between Manson and the Beatles had first circulated in February, when an unnamed source in the District Attorney's office told the Los Angeles Times that prosecutors in the case were examining a possible link between the killers and the White Album. The story spread when it was picked up by the New York Post the following day. As laid out by the source—not Bugliosi, who denied talking to anyone in the media before the trial had begun—the idea seemed too fantastical to be true. Manson envisioned a coming war between blacks and whites in which only Manson and his followers would survive. The best way to inaugurate the war was to slaughter a bunch of white people in Los Angeles and make it appear as if African Americans had committed the crimes.
The story only grew stranger as it continued. To Manson, the entire tale was laid out in the White Album. He interpreted "Honey Pie" (which beckoned someone to "sail across the ocean") as the Beatles’ message to him. "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" was a communiqué to blacks telling them to prepare to rise up and fight; "Blackbird" supposedly served the same purpose. The war itself would be called "Helter Skelter," another song on the record; the battle was laid out in the chaotic noise of "Revolution 9." In another supposed sign of his bond with the Beatles, Manson claimed he'd renamed Susan Atkins "Sadie" long before the album's "Sexy Sadie." On it went—all of it, according to Bugliosi's theory, culminating in the grisly murders the previous August of eight-months-pregnant actress Sharon Tate, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, hairdresser Jay Sebring, writer Wojiciech Frykowski, teenager Steven Parent, and supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary.
When the Times and Post stories emerged, the prevailing feeling was disbelief; Rolling Stone ran a skeptical commentary on the reports. But Bugliosi was convinced after two Family members, Brooks Poston and Paul Watkins, told him separately about Manson's consuming obsession with the album.
In the valleys and canyons of Los Angeles, Manson's ties with rock and roll were well known; he'd spooked plenty in the music community. Two years earlier, he and members of the Family had crashed at the home of Beach Boy Dennis Wilson; Wilson went so far as to oversee demos of Manson singing his own songs. One of them, "Cease to Exist" (retitled "Never Learn Not to Love" by Wilson), wound up on a Beach Boys album. Returning to his apartment one day, Danny Kortchmar, James Taylor's lead guitarist, found his place ransacked, guitars and equipment gone. Later, Kortchmar heard the Family may have been responsible; Manson, he heard, dispatched members of his flock to rob musicians' homes so Manson would have the gear necessary to fulfill his fantasy of being a rock star. Manson had also been angry with record producer Terry Melcher, who'd expressed interest in recording an album of Manson's songs until he saw the dark side of the diminutive cult leader. Melcher had previously lived at the Cielo Drive house where the Tate murders were committed.
Near Neil Young's home in Topanga Canyon, everyone knew about Manson. While staying in the house of David Briggs, Young's friend and producer, Nils Lofgren heard the stories about Manson's crew and saw the weapons Briggs and his friends were storing in case they came by. One day, Lofgren and Bobby Morse, one of Briggs' roommates, went to Briggs' home to pick up something for a session. "Oh, no, it's that crazy bitch," Morse said, gesturing at a girl in front of the house, standing beside a car with a flat tire. The girl asked to see another of their roommates. "He's not here," Morse said curtly. "You gotta get out of here." They quickly replaced her tire, but when the girl insisted on staying, Morse told her she couldn't. "They're bad people," Morse told Lofgren after she left, "and we don't want 'em here." Months later, when Manson and Family members were arrested on charges of murder, Lofgren recognized the girl as one of the accomplices.
The chilly repercussions extended to the U.K. Just before the murders, Dan Richter was living at the home Lennon had owned before Tittenhurst. Afraid the Lennons were next in line and that the killers might discover where he lived, the Richters moved, at Lennon and Ono's invitation, to Tittenhurst.
In his opening statement in court, Bugliosi hardly minced words when relaying his theory. "The evidence will show Manson's fanatical obsession with 'Helter Skelter,' a term he got from the English musical group the Beatles," he told the jury. "Manson was an avid follower of the Beatles and believed that they were speaking to him across the ocean through the lyrics of their songs." To bolster his case, Bugliosi entered the White Album as evidence, along with a door from Spahn Ranch (where the Family had been living) on which "Helter Skelter" had been scrawled. The lyrics to the songs were read into evidence.
To Bugliosi's surprise, no public outcry greeted his theory. Leaving the courtroom that day, no reporters besieged him to ask for further details. He didn't know whether to be shocked or not. Bugliosi himself never heard from any of the Beatles or their representatives. Even if the public, press or his fellow lawyers thought he was insane, the jury made it clear it took his theory seriously. During the trial, they requested a stereo for the deliberation room along with their own copy of the Beades' two-LP set.
For a moment, the Beatles themselves were almost pulled into the case when Manson's defense team sent a writ to Lennon to testify. "We feel he may want to explain the lyrics," a member of the team told the Associated Press. Reached for comment by the press, Apple spokesman Derek Taylor was pithy as always. Requesting Lennon's presence at the trial, he said, was "like summoning Shakespeare to explain Macbeth." Besides, he added, it was McCartney, not his former band partner, who wrote "Helter Skelter." The plan ran aground when Manson's lawyers couldn't find a way to physically administer summonses to each Beatle. Apparently, none of them knew that, during the jury-selection process that began in mid June, Lennon was in their very city, undergoing primal scream therapy.