It wasn’t written for the Beach Boys, but “Never Learn Not To Love” (on the Beach Boys’ 20/20 album) was indeed written by Charles Manson, under the title “Cease to Exist.” For a brief time in 1968, about a year before the Tate-LaBianca murders, Manson and Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson were acquaintances.

After being released from prison in 1967, Manson relocated to Los Angeles and began following up on the music leads he had acquired. He networked himself relentlessly, making contacts at parties and clubs, trying to make things happen. His efforts were successful; he met Dennis Wilson, who gave him studio time in Brian Wilson’s studio. Neil Young encountered him, and recalled “He had this kind of music that nobody else was doing. I thought he really had something crazy, something great. He was like a living poet.” John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas was less impressed; when urged by hippie friends to record Manson, Phillips quipped “I’d just shudder every time. I’d say no, I think I’ll pass.”

I seem to remember reading that Manson specifically didn’t want writer’s credit, and in addition he told Dennis that if he wanted to change the melody, change it all he wants, but leave the lyrics alone…which Dennis did NOT — he kept the melody and rewrote the lyrics (“cease to exist” –> “cease to resist,” for example), and after hearing the finished product, Manson took a gun over to Dennis’s house…Dennis wasn’t home, but Manson took a bullet out of the gun, handed it to the person who answered the door, and said to give it to Dennis when he got home. “This is for him,” he told the guy. yeeks…


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