Conspiracy Corner

Inside the late Charles Manson’s “Helter Skelter” conspiracy

More stories from Alyssa Anderson

Getting Weird
December 13, 2018


Charles Manson, leader of the murderous Manson Family cult, believed The Beatles’ White Album was sending him messages about an imminent race war called Helter Skelter.

A few summers ago, when I was trapped in the mind-numbing wasteland that is my hometown, I decided to pick up a copy of “Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders.”

The book, which was nearly 900 pages long and was written by Manson’s prosecuting attorney Vincent Bugliosi, taught me way more than I ever wanted to know about one of the most heinous crimes in American history.

In the wake of Manson’s death on Sunday, I decided to delve into the fascinating, disturbing and overall baffling conspiracy behind the infamous Manson murders.

For those unfamiliar, Manson orchestrated the brutal Tate-LaBianca murders in 1969. After procuring a faithful following of hippies, wanderers and anyone vulnerable enough to fall under his spell, Manson instructed his followers to brutally slaughter innocent people in an attempt to kick-start a race war.

According to Rolling Stone, Manson believed The Beatles’ “White Album” was full of subliminal messages meant for Manson himself.

Then there were the five songs Manson liked most: “Blackbird,” “Piggies,” “Revolution 1,” “Helter Skelter” and “Revolution 9,” Rolling Stone reported.  

Manson’s followers would later claim he had drawn parallels between the last song’s title and the ninth chapter of the Book of Revelation. Family member Gregg Jakobson said in Helter Skelter that Manson drew comparisons between the Bible and “the Beatles’ songs, the power that came out of their mouths.”

The song “Blackbird,” according to Manson, was meant to get African-Americans riled up before the start of the race war, although Paul McCartney has since explained the song was written in support of women in the Civil Rights movement.

Clearly, this guy was nuts. But with the right combination of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, Manson had his trusty “family” wrapped around his finger.

Manson had countless ideas about what the album was communicating to him, but the song that held the most significance for him was “Helter Skelter.”

“’Helter Skelter’ means confusion, literally,” Manson said during his trial. “Is it a conspiracy that the music is telling the youth to rise up against the establishment because the establishment is rapidly destroying things? The music speaks to you every day, but you are too deaf, dumb and blind to even listen to the music.”

This bizarre belief inspired the Manson Family to brutally murder ten people, leaving behind cryptic messages in the victims’ blood. In 1971, Manson and four other members of his Family were convicted and sentenced to the death penalty.

However, the state of California revoked the death penalty in 1972, lessening those sentences to life in prison.

Ever since reading Helter Skelter, I can’t seem to escape the grasp of the Manson Family. Two weeks ago, American Horror Story depicted the Manson murders in graphic detail, which allowed me to revisit this captivating story.

I found it rather odd that only a few weeks after this episode aired, Manson died. Now, here I am, once again pondering the strange history of the Manson Family. I guess I just can’t stay away.

If Helter Skelter isn’t the most bizarre conspiracy you’ve ever heard, I honestly don’t know what is. Charles Manson will never cease to fascinate me, even from beyond the grave.