One of the strangest tales in Truth and Rumors: The Reality Behind TV’s Most Famous Myths is the Charles Manson story. Did the serial killer actually audition to become one of The Monkees?

That’s one of the rumors I’ll be discussing tomorrow at 1 p.m. on CBC Radio One’s Q with Jian Ghomeshi (94.1 on Toronto’s FM dial).

The Monkee myth is a pretty persistant one. I’ve lost count of the number of places I’ve read that Manson was at the 1965 audition, along with Stephen Stills, Paul Williams and Three Dog Night’s Danny Hutton. The roles, of course, went to Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork and Davy Jones.

For more on the book, check out Talking With Tim, Tim O’Shea’s pop culture blog. O’Shea conducts e-mail interviews with writers, artists, novelists, musicians “and other pop culture service providers.” I’m his latest email interrogatee.


  1. I hesitated, thought why bother, and you’ll soon enough understand why.

    Your little blog is just exploding as the best TV review in Canadaland, Bill.
    It’s all I could have hoped for.

    Now, you bring up Charles Manson, and I’m not exactly sure if I should perhaps just leave that one alone.
    Then again that would go against my perceived duties (self-deluded no doubt) as making pretensions to being a journalist.
    For if we witness something in the course of our lives should we stay silent, or do we owe it to others to, to speak so to speak.

    Charles Manson as you know wrote a song that the Beachboys recorded, and a song that Guns and Roses also recorded.
    I had heard Manson’s original recording of the song and thought that the song was one of the best I had heard, and being a music reviewer for an underground newspaper in Vancouver but finding myself sitting in Los Angeles on a Sunday morning with nothing to do while Manson sat in jail awaiting trial, I decided to go interview him about his music.
    We never did talk directly but nevertheless had some interesting communication in the course of that summer in 1970, I visited the three young women in prison as well and lived for a month at Spahn Ranch with the remaining group.

    You’re wondering why I would bring all this up.
    It’s a very tiny tiny “thing”.
    Imagine for a moment having had those experiences and then 40 years later finding a blog item that finds it an interesting piece of lost trivia that there was a Monkee connection to Charles Manson.

    I met the Monkees once too.

  2. Thanks for the kind words about the blog Allan. Hope you keep coming back.
    Very curious to hear more about your Manson encounter. Have you posted about this at your blog? Point us there.
    You probably already know this, but you can watch the Beach Boys perform that Manson song, “Never Learn Not To Love,” on YouTube. It was performed in 1968, on of all things, The Mike Douglas Show.

  3. No, I’ve never put it on a blog, Bill.
    In fact, I carried the story around in my head for a long time and never told anyone about the whole experience.
    Then in ’88 William Deverell pointed out that I should write about it if it would help me unburden myself of it. But it was another twelve years before I did. It wasn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I did try and bring back the memories in an draft that took days. I tucked it into a corner of the net and haven’t returned to it since.
    And now with each year passing I think about it only infrequently, and have learned that most people would of course be intrigued, but only for about five minutes.
    But for me it was a profound meditation on sanity and and sacrifice.
    I had no interest at all in the murders. My fascination was their lifestyle and freedom, which was incredibly daring. It was futile to even think of adapting their philosophy, it was just too far out. Still, I did get involved, the way we do with people we like, and will always see myself as part of that family. These things happen.
    And in a small and private way it has left me sad and isolated, like an old soldier, and heartbroken over three young women, who are still my age.
    Here is part of it.

    But let’s get back to JPod.
    Man, that show really creeps me out.

  4. CBC just keeps getting weirder Reply

    “allan” is an apologist for the CBC – he’s paid to blog and post comments on the internet to dispel rumors and criticism for the CBC – and now we learn that “allen” lived with the Manson Family – how fucked up is that?

  5. Good stuff Bill. An entertaining segment.

    I still say the thing with Carson and the cat happened. In my heart of hearts, anyway.

  6. The commentor over-estimates the CBC.
    And probably busies himself developing new views of 9/11 as well.
    I don’t apologize for the CBC.
    They’re eminently qualified to make their own excuses.
    And appear to be getting a fair amount of practice these days.

    Loved the Superbowl coverage and confronting the Dexter ads, Bill.
    And now you’re dealing with the Late show scene – you are hitting all the marks – it’s quietly thrilling to see.
    And the lay-out and graphics, and your obvious effort in each post, man, ease up, you’re embarrassing other bloggers with this kind of quality.

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