The Time Henry Rollins Was Charles Manson’s “Editor”

Yes, THAT Charles Manson. This is scooped from an interview with Hank in HitFix.

There’s a film called “Manson Family Vacation” [which played at SXSW] and it touches on Charles Manson’s music career and about the draw to the myth and the man. You had been involved with some of his musical output in the 1980s…

Well let’s frame it correctly. His attorney sent SST Records – I’m not an owner, I just work there, SST and Touch & Go and every other indie label — a copy of a C90 and a C60 of Manson playing at Vacaville [Prison].

All the labels passed. SST didn’t. Greg Ginn and Chuck Dukowski said yes to the project. There was no one there to edit it, everyone’s busy. And I said “I’ll do it.” I put on the tapes and listened. It’s good! Like there’s an album here of acoustic folky bluesy scat improv vocal music.

I write Charles Manson a very Boy Scoutish letter. “I read Helter Skelter in ninth grade so I’m aware of your career.” I said “I’m your editor and I’ve been working on edits. I’m going to fade in and fade out. I have a 35 minute record. I think it’s good.” Like, I’m your editor. Not a producer because the tracks were produced in a prison cell.

And he wrote me back immediately. “I’ve seen you on MTV, man. You and I look alike. We’re brothers of a different time.” I’m like okay, he’s trying to get in my head.

And I had this correspondence with him that lasted from ‘84 to 1987. And like I have letters, photographs, maps, drawings, things he’d make me out of yarn. Crazy stuff. But the record got as far as the six test pressings. Word of the record came out, the L.A. Times got a hold of it. We started getting the most incredible death threats. Like, “Here’s your address and I will cut your head off if you put this record out.” And “I know you practice here. You live here and you walk this way to practice.” I’m like wow, this is real.

I wanted to put the record out. I said screw these guys – let’s do it. Greg and Chuck cancelled it.

Manson took it all out on me, like “I knew you’d rip me off!” He called me a bunch of names. I tried to explain the cult politicism of SST Records and our stated station in L.A. I tried and he’s like “No, you ripped me off. The Beach Boys ripped me off. All you guys…” – All kinds of language.

Yeah, he just flipped out on me. I’m like, “Charlie, it’s not me. I’m on the label but I’m not the label.” You can’t explain something like that to a guy like that. I did the best I could and finally, on the last letter he cooled out a little so I think he did have a moment to… I said it’s not me. It’s Frank and Chuck and they’re afraid they’re going to get cut up. I said fuck it, let’s just put it out.

The last letter I ever got from him he said okay, we’re cool. And then I never heard from him again. And so it’s not my property. It’s not even SST’s. They dropped it.

So it belongs to Charlie I guess. A good record. It’s been bootlegged. It’s out. I called it “Completion” from his poem he sent me. And if you type in “Manson Completion” [in a search], that’s because that’s the edited tape. It made the rounds and I’ve seen it online. In fact, I’ve seen a CD of it. And so you can find it. Of the six test presses, I have two. So that’s probably the rarest thing from it. But it’ll never be released by SST, I doubt it. But it’s out there, it’s around.

Read the whole article here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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