Charles Milles Manson (born Charles Milles Maddox, November 12, 1934) is an American criminal who led what became known as the Manson Family, a quasi-commune that arose in the California desert in the late 1960s. Manson and his followers committed a series of nine murders at four locations over a period of five weeks in the summer of 1969. In 1971 he was found guilty of conspiracy to commit the murders of seven people — most notably of the actress Sharon Tate — all of which were carried out by members of the group at his instruction. He is currently serving nine concurrent life sentences at Corcoran State Prison in Corcoran, California.
Manson believed in what he called "Helter Skelter", a term he took from the Beatles' song of the same name. Manson believed Helter Skelter to be an impending apocalyptic race war, which he described in his own version of the lyrics to the Beatles' song. He believed the murders would help precipitate that war. From the beginning of his notoriety, a pop culture arose around him in which he ultimately became an emblem of insanity, violence and the macabre.
At the time the Family began to form, Manson was an unemployed former convict, who had spent half of his life in correctional institutions for a variety of offenses. Before the murders, he was a singer-songwriter on the fringe of the Los Angeles music industry, chiefly through a chance association with Dennis Wilson, drummer and co-founder of the Beach Boys. After Manson was charged with the crimes of which he was later convicted, recordings of songs written and performed by him were released commercially. Various musicians have covered some of his songs.