The Beach Boys‘ Dennis Wilson inadvertently puts Charles Manson on a path to Helter Skelter in this two-minute excerpt from the two-hour documentary Truth and Lies: The Family Manson, which airs Friday night on ABC.
The clip focuses on how Wilson, an associate of Manson’s, took one of Manson’s songs (“Cease to Exist”) and turned it into the Beach Boys composition “Never Learn Not to Love,” with Wilson giving himself full songwriting credit for the track.
“We actually recorded that song,” the Beach Boys’ Mike Love says in the excerpt. “I was never told the origins of the song. As far as I knew, Dennis had written it.”
The song theft enraged Manson, who threatened Wilson and at one point left a bullet on the drummer’s bed. “I gave Dennis Wilson a bullet, didn’t I? I gave him a bullet because he changed the words to my song,” Manson told Diane Sawyer in an infamous interview.
However, Manson restrained himself from violence as Wilson’s good friend Terry Melcher was a star producer at the time and Manson was hopeful that Melcher could secure him a recording contract. However, when Melcher reneged on the contract, Manson and his followers declared Helter Skelter, resulting in a string of murders that marred the late Sixties.
In a previous clip from Truth and Lies, Love discussed how he once attended a Manson family party with Dennis Wilson and how the whole encounter gave him a disturbing feeling.