Music Journalist Legs McNeil Talks New Book on Charles Manson and the Dark Side of Late-’60s ‘Free Love’

by Ezra Buckley on November 25, 2017

Cult leader and convicted killer Charles Manson, who died on Sunday (Nov. 19) at the age of 83, built his own perverse mythology upon a foundation of occultism, race war conspiracy theories and, ultimately, murder. Yet in spite of his heinous actions, many of the reports surrounding Manson are inaccurate, the result of grotesque folklore being passed down through generations until it was accepted as fact.

Music journalist Legs McNeil — who co-authored 1996’s groundbreaking Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk with Gillian McCain — hopes to change that. For 20 years, he and McCain have been working on a book that documents the late-‘60s California music scene and Manson’s role in it, tentatively titled 69 — though McNeil grouses, “We might change the title because I think that asshole Quentin Tarantino just stole it.”

There’s no lack of Manson reading material already on the market — Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry’s 1974 book Helter Skelter remains the bestselling true crime book of all time. But over the past 20 years, McNeil and McCain have interviewed every possible person connected to the Manson Family murders, several of whom have never spoken on record before.



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