I Regret Wearing That Charles Manson T-Shirt

In the early 1990s, Patti Tate, sister of Sharon Tate, was on a public tirade against Guns N Roses frontman Axl Rose for going onstage every night wearing a Charles Manson T-Shirt. Around the same time, I had my own Manson shirt, worn regularly to freak people out.

Mood music:

Here’s Axl in his shirt:

Here’s me in my shirt:

The picture was taken 20 years ago — 1992 — when I was in a band with the two guys to my right. At the time I was all about shocking people. Shocking people has always been a good way to change the subject — especially when the subject is why you’re suck a fuck up. Of course, wearing the shirt proved I was just that.

I’m not trying to beat myself over this. That’s who I was back then. Plain and simple. We’re all in constant evolution and we go through our good and bad phases.

But my stupidity of the time is hitting me clearer than ever because I just finished reading  “Restless Souls: The Sharon Tate Family’s Account of Stardom, the Manson Murders, and a Crusade for Justice,” written by Tate family friend Alisa Statman and Brie Tate, niece of Sharon Tate.

Patti Tate picked up the crusade against the Manson killers and work as a victim’s advocate when her mom, Doris, passed away in 1992. In the book, she recalls seeing Axl in a video on MTV, sporting the infamous T-shirt. Here was a guy reaching millions of kids every day, essentially telling them that Manson was cool, a guy to look up to. I don’t think Axl really believed that. I think he was just going for the shock like me. I also think he covered the Manson song “Look At Your Game” because he simply liked the song and separated it from Manson’s crimes.

But like me, he was barking up the wrong tree.

In the final analysis, I don’t think it’s really possible to separate Manson the murder mastermind from Manson the musician. The music and the murders were geared toward the same cause — starting Helter Skelter, a race war Manson believed was imminent. Manson believed the black man would win the war and be unable to hold the reigns of power afterwards. Then, he and his family would come out of hiding in the desert and take control.

A ridiculous notion to be sure. But that’s what he believed, and at least nine people were brutally murdered over it, including Patti’s sister.

I regret wearing that T-shirt. I’m glad I lost it along the way.

The Most Important Book Ever Written About Sharon Tate And The Manson Murders

I’m reading a book called “Restless Souls: The Sharon Tate Family’s Account of Stardom, the Manson Murders, and a Crusade for Justice,” written by Tate family friend Alisa Statman and Brie Tate, niece of Sharon Tate. It may well be the most important book written on the Manson case.

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The simple reason is that it captures a family’s grief and struggle to move on — something all our families have dealt with in various forms.

Restless Souls: The Sharon Tate Family's Account of Stardom, the Manson Murders, and a Crusade for JusticeI’ve written a lot here about my interest in the Manson case. This past November, I drove to the Tate and LaBianca murder sites during a trip to L.A. The story tapped into my fearful side at a young age, when Channel 56 played the two-part “Helter Skelter” movie every year. But until I downloaded this book onto my Kindle, I never truly appreciated what the Tate family has been through all these years.

I knew Sharon’s mother, Doris Tate, was a tireless victim’s rights advocate up to her death in 1992 and that her daughter Patti (Brie Tate’s mother) carried the torch until her death from cancer in 2000.

The Tate family has spent the last 42-plus years living with its tragic ties to criminal history. The book is a collection of narratives written by Doris, Patti, and P.J. Tate (Sharon’s father).

P.J. writes about having to go to the Cielo Drive house shortly after the murders to clean up all the blood and collect his daughter’s things. Patti writes about her struggle to hide from the prying world and live in quiet, only to have her family history come back to haunt her every time.

You see how Doris emerged after a decade of mourning to become a tireless fighter for victim’s rights, prison reforms and keeping her daughter’s killers in prison. You see P.J. and Patti getting upset with Doris again and again for keeping the family in the spotlight through her work. The wreckage of their lives includes all the usual tormentors: addiction, gut-shredding guilt, fear and anxiety. You see them learning to live again and finding purpose.

It’s the ultimate story of battling adversity.

I wish this book had come out before my L.A. trip, because I would have looked at those murder sites with a different set of eyes.

The Manson case has been a source of obsession for many, many people over the years. There’s the natural curiosity about what drives human beings to kill. There’s the horror and blood aspect that sucks people in. But what often gets lost is what kind of people the victims were, and what happens to those they unwillingly leave behind.

This book is all about the latter. That’s why I think it’s so important.

I think Brie Tate did her family proud with this work. I look forward to seeing what she does in the future.

The gates to the property where Sharon Tate and four others were murdered. I took the picture during a recent trip to L.A.