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Revolution/Revelation

If anyone had asked me in March of 1969 why I was going back to Manson, I would have said I had no choice. Every day I stayed away from him I felt like I was running, running away from the place I was supposed to be, running away from changes that were necessary for me. Charlie was my destiny.

Even when I talked to them on the phone, the Family women sounded different. All they could talk about was Helter Skelter. I knew the title from the Beatles' White Album, but I wasn't sure what they all meant when they kept insisting that "Helter Skelter is coming down fast, and we're getting ready for it." Everything had changed, they told me as they babbled on about a club they were starting and about buying dune buggies and about the White Album which explained everything, laid everything out-and that I'd understand if I'd just come out and talk to Charlie.

The next day I appeared at Spahn Ranch with my styled hair and my silk shirt and leather jacket and I felt like there were two of me standing there-the old Tex whom Charlie and the girls were so glad to see and Charles from Hollywood, noticing the dust that was getting on his expensive leather shoes.

That night I saw the club. It was one of the old ranch buildings painted all black inside, with a huge parachute covering the ceiling and black lights and posters and HELTER SKELTER and other lines from Beatles' songs scrawled all over the walls in luminous paint. There was a large jar in one corner marked DONATIONS. "That's so we can buy things to get ready for Helter Skelter when it comes down," one of the girls explained. Most of the people were Family, but there were a few outsiders too, everybody drinking beer and smoking grass and some of us dropping acid. The White Album was blasting from the sound system until Charlie got up and started performing some new songs of his, things he'd written since I'd left the Family three months before. I didn't completely understand what was going on, but the new songs seemed to borrow a lot of phrases and ideas from the White Album; they were all about Helter Skelter and being time for someone to rise and somebody else to flee to the desert. There was one tune the whole Family joined in on, repeating the chorus over and over: "You better get your dune buggy ready . . . you better get your dune buggy ready."

Then everybody started dancing, Susan-Sadie in the middle of things doing her go-go number, while Charlie and the others sang at the top of their lungs and the psychedelic posters throbbed with their sickly colors in the black light. I was home.

Home had changed some. During the week that followed I commuted between Luella and the ranch-trying to talk her into coming with me, fighting her insistence that I forget Charlie and stay with her in Hollywood, freaking out some of our friends by taking them out to meet the Family (Luella refused to go past the front gate)-and during that strange, fractured week I discovered that even more had been turned around than I first thought. Through the long summer of 1968 it had been all love; now the Family was talking about getting weapons and preparing for some kind of black-white Armageddon. Earlier Charlie had preached oneness in the Family, how we didn't need anyone in the outside world (in fact, we'd gone to the desert to escape that world). Now he was making a concerted effort to get members of some of California's motorcycle gangs to join us, especially one group called the Straight Satans. Then Charlie had been against materialism, money, and things, but now the Family was scraping together all the money it could get its hands on, using every device-from the club itself (which turned out to be a fund raiser for buying dune buggies) to another idea Charlie had for putting his young loves to work as topless go-go dancers.

Ever since I'd known him, Charlie had occasionally mentioned that eventually there would be a bloody conflict between whites and blacks. But a lot of people were saying that-hadn't Watts been the beginning? He'd also made it clear that he thought blacks were inferior to whites and only created to serve them, but this kind of thing had never been a major part of his teaching. Now "Helter Skelter is coming down fast" was the main theme of everything he said, every song he wrote, and it didn't take long to figure out that the black-white terrorism and Helter Skelter meant pretty much the same thing: violent revolution. And now, Charlie was saying, it would be "blackie's turn to win," the karma would roll, and the blacks would end up on top as the establishment.

I didn't understand a lot of it, especially when he started talking about the messages the Beatles were sending him through their music, but I knew where I belonged. When Luella finally refused to have anything to do with the Family, I hitchhiked out to the ranch with just the clothes on my back and asked Charlie to let me join him again.

He had plenty of work for me. The dune buggies the Family was acquiring needed work and customizing to Charlie's special purpose: escape to the desert when Helter Skelter came down. And the girls, Mary particularly, drew me back into the Family's love. I spent my time working on the buggies, dropping acid, sleeping with the group, and making love when the drugs didn't space me so far out that I couldn't function. Every night we'd listen to Charlie sing his new songs and teach us about Helter Skelter. Gradually it began to come together for me.

The two sources of this new truth of Charlie's seemed to be the Bible and the Beatles' White Album, the one he'd heard for the first time that day in Topanga when I ran away from him. Although I got it in bits and pieces, some from the women and some from Manson himself, it turned out to be a remarkably complicated yet consistent thing that he had discovered and developed in the three months we'd been apart.

The central doctrine of Charlie's new teaching was Helter Skelter-Armageddon, the Last War on the Face of the Earth, the ultimate battle between blacks and whites in which the entire white race would be annihilated. As the Beatles sang, this was not some event in the distant future, it was "coming down fast." We were living in the last few months, weeks, perhaps days, of the old order.

Although, as he had always taught, Charlie still insisted that blacks were less evolved than whites and therefore only fit to be their slaves, he said that now all the centuries of oppression and exploitation for blackie were over, his karma had turned, and it was time for him to rise and to win.

The rebellion would begin with a few isolated incidents in which blacks would slip out of the Watts ghetto (for some reason Helter Skelter always began in Los Angeles) and into the establishment, pig neighborhoods like Beverly Hills or Bel Air, where they would perform murders so hideous - stabbing, mutilation, messages written on the walls in the victims' blood-that the white establishment would be thrown into mass paranoia and go on a rampage in the ghetto. They would slaughter thousands of blacks, but actually only manage to eliminate all the Uncle Toms, since the "true black race" (sometimes Charlie thought they were the Black Muslims, sometimes the Panthers) would have hidden, waiting for their moment.

After the orgy of killing ended, true blackie would come out of hiding and say to whitey: "Look here; see what you've done to my people." This would divide the white community between hippies and liberals on one side and conservatives on the other, and they would launch a fratricidal war that would make the War Between the States look tame by comparison, a war that would divide families, with parents shooting their own children and children slitting the throats of their parents. When it was done, the few whites that were left would be killed off by the blacks and that would be the end of the white race-except for a chosen few who would have escaped all this by going into secret hiding in the desert and under the desert-led by Jesus Christ.

Who were these chosen ones? The Family. And we already knew that Charlie was Jesus Christ.

Charlie said that during all the battle and slaughter, the Family, the chosen ones, would go down under the desert into the Bottomless Pit (spoken of in both Scripture and in Hopi legend) where there is a city of gold and the lake of life with its twelve trees. While there, we would multiply to 144,000 people. This was no mean feat for a Family of less than forty, but necessary according to the way Charlie read chapter 9 of the Revelation of Saint John, and when blackie finally. got complete control he'd blow it. He'd realize he couldn't run the world, realize he wasn't good for anything but serving whitey and copying what he did. So the blacks would turn to the only white man left with the smarts to help them; they would turn to Charlie, to Jesus Christ, who would lead the 144,000 chosen people out of the Pit to rule the world forever.

It was exciting, amazing stuff Charlie was teaching, and we'd sit around him for hours as he told us about the land of milk and honey we'd find underneath the desert and enjoy while the world above us was soaked in blood. It was coming soon, he kept insisting, very soon; the Beatles knew it and had made it clear to anyone with the ears to hear: "Look out . . . Helter skelter . . . She's coming down fast . . . Yes she is."

That wasn't all the Beatles knew, either, Charlie added. They knew that Jesus Christ had returned to earth and was somewhere near Los Angeles. Their White Album, he taught, was both a message to this returned Jesus to speak out, to call the chosen, and a preparation for Helter Skelter-planting the seed and setting the stage for the message that Charlie himself was supposed to give the world in an album he would produce, an album that would light the fuse the Beatles had prepared. It was all there in the music, he'd say; just listen to the music. Didn't they have a song about "Sexy Sadie" that described Susan Atkins to a tee, long after Charlie had christened her Sadie Mae Glutz? Didn't they tell blackie it was time for him to rise up, when in their song "Blackbird" they said: "Blackbird singing in the dead of night . . . . /All your life/You were only waiting for this moment to arise . . . "?

And there was more, much more. The proof that the Beatles knew about Charlie, knew that he was in Los Angeles and were urging him to speak out, to sing the truth to the world, was in their song "Honey Pie":

Oh honey pie my position is tragic Come and show me the magic Of your Hollywood song . . . .

Obviously they wanted Charlie to make his album. And if they weren't so exhausted from their fruitless trip to find the true Jesus (Charlie) in the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India (whom they had written off as "the fool on the hill" in an earlier song that was referred to in the White Album's song "Glass Onion"), they would come looking for him in California - they'd join him. After all, didn't they say as much when in "Honey Pie" they sang: "I'm in love but I'm lazy"? They even went so far as to beg Charlie to come to them in England:

Oh honey pie you are driving me frantic Sail across the Atlantic To be where you belong . . . .

And if that weren't enough to show their encouragement to Charlie to speak the word and make his album, in "I Will" they cried out to him:

And when at last I find you
Your song will fill the air Sing it loud so I can hear you Make it easy to be near you . . . .

There were other songs in the White Album in which the meanings were even less obscure. "Piggies"-complete with oinks in the background-described the pigs-establishment whites in their formal clothes-out for the evening with their piggie spouses-and said that "what they need's a damn good whacking," a phrase that Charlie especially liked. "Revolution 1" had lyrics that were printed in the album as:

You say you want a revolution . . .
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out.

But when you listened to the record a voice clearly sang "in" immediately afterward, saying-according to Charlie-that while they had been on a peace-and-love trip before, now (even if they couldn't admit it to the pig establishment) the Beatles were ready for the violence of Armageddon, waiting for Charlie to sing the word that would set it off, as they added later in the song:

You say you got a real solution Well you know We'd all love to see the plan .

Then there was the song "Helter Skelter" itself. None of us had any way of knowing that in England this was another term for a slide in an amusement park. When Charlie interpreted lines like "When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide . . ." as a description of our coming back up out of the Bottomless Pit, it seemed to make sense to us, as it did when he used other parts of the song to plot out our escape route to the desert.

To Charlie, however, the most significant band on the album wasn't a song at all. "Revolution 9" was a strange collage of taped sounds and snatches of music-warfare, church hymns, crying babies, football games, BBC announcers, recited dance names, rock music and on and on-thrown together in overlapping patterns that made it either pointless noise or secret code, depending on your point of view.

Charlie pointed out the repetition of the word rise, first whispered strangely, then screamed until almost unrecognizable. This was the Beatles' way of calling blackie to rise up and begin Helter Skelter, he said, and it was no coincidence that RISE was printed in blood on the walls the night of the second murders, along with HELTER SKELTER, just as PIG had been scrawled on the door of the house on Cielo Drive in Sharon Tate's blood.

He showed us how the same weird chord that ended the song "Piggies" appeared later in "Revolution 9," followed by the sound of machine-gun fire and the screams of the dying. The interpretation was obvious. Most important, because it tied together the two parts of Charlie's apocalyptic puzzle, was the constant repetition of the chant "number nine, number nine" throughout the piece. This, Charlie said, referred to the ninth chapter of the last book of the Bible-Revelation 9-in which lay both the prophecy of what was now coming down and its explanation.

I don't know how Charlie happened to discover the ninth chapter of the Apocalypse of John, but its florid imagery and graphic symbols of death and destruction fit both his purposes and his style only too well. Christian scholars are divided over the exact meaning of this strange picture of death and destruction let loose on the world in the form of avenging angels sent to punish the evils of mankind. But to Charlie this one chapter contained all the basic elements of his Helter Skelter doctrine, spelled out clearly and validated by divine imprimatur. The fact that the rest of the Bible had absolutely no meaning in our life in the Family did not lessen its authority in the least when Charlie chose to use it to his advantage.

Where the Scripture spoke of four angels, Charlie saw the Beatles, prophets bringing the word of Helter Skelter and preparing the way for Christ (Manson) to lead the chosen people away to safety. The avenging locusts that are mentioned were also a reference to the rock group, he said, since locusts and "beatles" were virtually the same. In the King James Version that Charlie used, these locusts are described in verses 7 and 8 as having faces like men but the hair of women, and it seemed to be a clear description of the Beatles' long hair, while the "breastplates of iron" were their electric guitars. The fire and brimstone recorded as pouring from the mouths of the horses in verse 17 were to Charlie the symbolic power of the Beatles' music to ignite Helter Skelter.

As for the "seal of God" on the foreheads of some men that keeps them safe from the plagues of the angels (verse 4), Charlie never explained what it was, but he made it clear that he would be able to see it, and it would divide those who were for him from those who were against him and who would thus die. He also found references to the dune buggies we were gathering and to the motorcycle gangs he was trying to recruit into the Family in the passage's descriptions of "horses prepared unto battle" and horsemen that would roam the earth, spreading destruction. As for the one-third of mankind that the writings say will be destroyed, Charlie interpreted them as the white race, wiped out in Helter Skelter for "worship of idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood" (verse 20)-cars, houses, and money, according to Charlie.

Finally, and most importantly, there was a fifth angel given the key to the shaft leading down into the Abyss, the Bottomless Pit. Charlie himself was that fifth angel, he taught us, and he would lead us, his chosen, into the safety of that Pit. Although he never told us (perhaps he didn't know), the translation of this angel's name - Abaddon in the Hebrew, Apollyon in the Greek-is "destroyer."

One other element I didn't learn until a few months later was the fact that Terry Melcher also figured in all this. During the months I was away, Charlie had spent most of his time working on the new songs for his album, the one that would follow up the Beatles' White Album and strike the spark for Helter Skelter. They were message songs, like the Beatles', with lots of subtle symbols aimed at the different parts of society that would be involved in what was coming. They were the "plan" which the Beatles were asking Charlie to reveal in "Revolution 1."

Terry Melcher was the one that Manson had decided should produce this special album. According to his version of events, Terry went so far as to promise to come out and hear the new music one evening. The girls spent the whole day preparing food and joints, fixing up the house in Canoga Park where the Family was spending the winter. Melcher never showed up.

Once again Terry Melcher had failed Charlie. More than ever, Terry Melcher-in his house at the top of Cielo Drive, with his power and his money-was the focus for the bitterness and sense of betrayal that the Family felt for all those phony Hollywood hippies who kept silencing the truth Charlie had to share. These "beautiful people," Terry and all the others, were really no different from the rich piggies in their white shirts and ties and suits. And just like them, they too deserved a "damn good whacking."

Chapter Ten Table of Content Chapter Twelve

(Will You Die For Me? Copyright 1978, by Ray Hoekstra. Published by Cross Roads Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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