Given that most of their songs are about how fun it is to drive cars on the beach while the sun is shining and the surf is up, there’s always been something extra bizarre about the strange link between surf-rock smile guys The Beach Boys and the criminal cult known as The Manson Family. And yet, for a brief period in the late ’60s—before Manson and his associates went on a murder spree that included the death of actress Sharon Tate—the two groups moved in roughly the same circles, thanks to singer, songwriter, and seeker Dennis Wilson, who welcomed Manson and his “girls” into his home after a chance encounter.
Impressed with Manson’s musical talents, Wilson introduced him to the rest of his bandmates, including his cousin Mike Love. And that’s where things started to get weird, according to an excerpt from Love’s new memoir, Good Vibrations, available via People today. Wilson apparently invited Love and Bruce Johnston over for dinner one night with Manson and his “girls,” including future would-be assassin Lynnete “Squeaky” Fromme. After dinner, Manson brought Love and Johnston to the den, “where he turned on a strobe light and revealed all of his girls lying there, naked. He started passing out LSD tabs and was orchestrating sex partners. I love the female form,” Love writes, “But this was too much.”
Love departed to the mansion’s shower—as one does, after Charles Manson offers them drugs and free love—only to be confronted by the famous maniac. “You can’t do that,” Love says Manson told him. “You can’t leave the group.” (Advice that might explain the fact that The Beach Boys continue, 50 years later, to intermittently tour, at least when everybody left is capable of getting along long enough to jam out “Kokomo” for the 90,000th time.)
Love took his leave of the mansion shortly after, writing, “We got the hell out of there. And as we pulled out of the driveway, I thought, Denny, you’ve got a real nut case for a roommate now.” Mike Love. Singer. Co-writer of “Surfin’ Safari.” Master of understatement.