Charles Manson, failed musician

Charles Manson is famous for one thing, and it’s not his music.

Charles Manson Musician

When Manson died on Nov. 19, 2017, at the age of 83, the major media outlets rushed to publish retrospectives of his life as the mastermind behind nine brutal murders committed by members of the Manson Family in 1969.

The majority of these articles followed a predictable template: a thumbnail sketch of Manson’s troubled childhood, followed by an overview of his rise to power as the charismatic leader of a group of young middle-class dropouts at the height of the 1960s counterculture movement. Then came an analysis of Manson’s manipulation of his followers, which forged an unshakable loyalty and willingness to do anything for him — even commit murder. A where-are-they-now of his followers typically served as a wrap-up.

But the one thing these long-form obituaries neglected to explore was why he did it.

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