The Truth About Charles Manson And The Beach Boys' Strange Connection

If you're familiar with the song "Never Learn Not to Love," released in 1969 on the Beach Boys album 20/20, it's probably not because of its unremarkable composition or its forgettable lyrics. It's probably because you know the truth, man — the dark, bizarre truth that cult leader and serial killer Charles Manson wrote a poppy jingle for the same band that sang Good Vibrations. How did this happen? It's a story drenched in sex, LSD, and one assumes, a lot of smells that just wouldn't come out of the carpet.

Charles Manson was sending out bad vibrations

It was 1968, and Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson was cruising through Malibu when he spotted a couple of female hitchhikers. The hippy lifestyle was in full swing, Wilson was recently divorced, and these groovy ladies weren't known as brainwashed murderers yet, so he decided to pick them up. Everyone in the car had similar interests. Wilson was getting deep into transcendental meditation, and the hitchhikers, Patricia Krenwinkel and Ella Jo Bailey, had also found higher spiritual meaning thanks to their new guru, a recently released convict.

Wilson took the girls back to his place, then headed to work for a few hours. When he came back, he discovered that the girls had Cat in the Hat-ted him hard, inviting over a dozen or so friends including their enigmatic leader, one Charles Milles Manson.

What followed, as reported by Biography, was a year of ups and downs. Wilson was initially enamored with Manson, who he started calling "the Wizard." There were orgies, excessive drug use, and, according to Beach Boys co-founder Mike Love, one instance of Charles Manson shooting a man in front of Wilson and then stuffing his body down a well. (However, that's never been verified.) In late 1968, Wilson recorded a reworked version of a song written by Manson, originally titled "Cease to Exist," under the new title "Never Learn Not to Love." Wilson took sole credit, later explaining that Manson was more than compensated through $100,000 in financial support, food, medical care, and the ever-mounting cost of repairs to Wilson's home thanks to the Manson family's escalating antics.

The Beach Boys give Manson the boot

Despite what Dennis Wilson said, Charles Manson didn't feel compensated, and he presented Wilson with a bullet, telling him to look at it every day and think about how lucky he was that his children were still alive. Depending on who you ask, that was around the time that Wilson tackled Manson to the ground and pre-enacted the ending of Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood on him.

The Wizard's magic broken, Wilson quietly left his rental property and cut off contact with Manson and his followers, leaving the job of kicking them out to his landlord once the lease was up. Not long after that, Manson was arrested for his involvement in some crimes you might've read about. Wilson, meanwhile, seemed to carry the guilt of having enabled one of the most prolific sources of evil in history, and he died homeless in 1983 while drunkenly swimming off the coast of Marina del Rey.