Published: 25th January 2022
What happened on January 25: Charles Manson and his hippie followers were convicted in 'trial of the century'
The context of the killings is set in the time when hippie cults were on a rise in the United States. For many, being a part of this alternative lifestyle movement drugs, travel and "free love"
On January 25, 1971, Charles Manson and three of his followers were convicted for the horrific murders of nine people in California. These were killings that took place in 1969 and while 'the Manson family' was believed to have murdered about 35 people, there was a lack of evidence for their case to even go to trial.
The context of the killings is set in the time when hippie cults were on a rise in the United States. For many, being a part of this alternative lifestyle movement meant a tilt towards travel, hallucinogenic drugs, a pinch of spirituality and the idea for "free love". For a great lot out there, the movement eventually became the wild-crazy thing they did when they were young, for others it continues to be a lifestyle till day.
The 'Manson family' was a term used by the media then to describe a group of around 100 followers of Charles Manson, all of who shared his passion for an unconventional lifestyle and habitual use of hallucinogenic drugs, such as LSD and magic mushrooms. What is Important to remember here is that Manson or his cult of followers were no saints before being a part of the hippie movement, he had frequent encounters with law and had been to prison earlier and the same was the case with most of his followers if not all.
Manson would manipulate his followers, which included young girls, by presenting himself as a religious figure and urging them to follow him by surrendering their identities to him completely. This allowed him complete power over them.
Manson prophesied about a race war to his followers and to jumpstart it, he ordered his followers to kill then upcoming actress Sharon Tate and her Mexican neighbour Rosemary LaBianca along with her husband, son of an Italian immigrant, to make it look like a race war. Manson had dubbed this movement Helter Skelter, preaching that the Beatles’ White Album song of the same name, which was written about an amusement park, was about the forthcoming war. Throughout the summer of 1969, Manson had been hinting to his followers that if black Americans didn't start Helter Skelter, the Family should help it along.
Paul McCartney has said that the playground slide in Helter Skelter was a metaphor for the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. Manson, however, interpreted the lyrics of Helter Skelter as a call to begin a race war. He turned to the album and lyrics to justify his scheme and guide his followers to murder. All, including Manson, were arrested for the Tate-Labianca murders by the end of 1969. Manson remained imprisoned till his death in 2017. He died of natural causes.