In 1968, notorious cult leader Charles Manson struck a friendship with Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. Manson had aspired to become a musician and felt his connection to Wilson would give him leeway into the music industry. Life, however, did not work out that, and by now we all know what happened the following year….
While Manson would technically get his wish in the years after the horrific incident, there were attempts made in ’68 and ’69 to record music. According to Manson, during his brief friendship with Dennis, he would be invited to Dennis’s brother Brian’s home studio to record tracks. Manson himself has said of the sessions, “We did a pretty fair session, putting down about ten songs”. Steve Desper, the Beach Boys’ engineer who was involved with these sessions, would say that the songs were “pretty good…he had musical talent.” These sessions would be produced by both Dennis and (albeit reluctantly) Brian.
What is shocking, however, is that the songs were not demos but actual finished songs. Reportedly, Manson would rarely take more than one vocal take for each track. Although the song titles are not known, it is suspected that some of the songs would be rerecorded and released in Manson’s eventual release Lie: The Love and Terror Cult (1970).
By ’69, however, things between Manson and Dennis soured considerably. Dennis went behind Manson’s back and took his song “Cease to Exist”, rewrote some lyrics, and released it as “Never Learn Not to Love” on the Beach Boys album 20/20 (1969). This angered Manson very much; he not only sent death threats to Dennis, but this event was allegedly one of the factors in triggering the Tate/LaBianca murders later that year (along with the Helter Skelter prophecy).
Since then, these recordings (at least in its original Dennis and Brian-produced incarnation) have not seen a release. Everyone in the Beach Boys camp denies its existence, however. Some who were involved, like Steve Desper, have confirmed that the recordings do in fact exist. According to music historian Andrew Doe, the chance of seeing these recordings as an official release are “not a hope in hell”', though there are rumors that bootlegs exist. If they do, then they are extraordinarily rare.
Talks about the project in detail.
Manson’s autobiography, mentions the sessions.