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MONKEYING WITH THE TRUTH

MONKEYING WITH THE TRUTH

Did the murderer Charles Manson really audition to join the Monkees?

THE SUNDAY TIMES, 2009

In September 1965, American media moguls advertised for “4 insane boys” to appear in a hip new television series about a pop group. A total of 437 young men were auditioned, and the chosen quartet – Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork – became the Monkees. Famously, one of the rejects was Stephen Stills, later part of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. And for many years, trivia-mongers have cited the “fact” that a certain Charles Manson also turned up hoping to join the band.

The advert asked for people between 17 and 21, and Manson was nearly 31 at the time

But the truth is, the deranged criminal – notorious for leading the “Manson Family”, who murdered the actress Sharon Tate in 1969 – never even came close to singing ‘Last Train to Clarksville’. For one thing, the advert asked for people between 17 and 21, and Manson was nearly 31 at the time.

Even more conclusively, it isn’t possible that he attended the auditions: he was in prison on McNeil Island, in the state of Washington, serving a sentence for cheque forgery. Unless, of course, he had mastered the mystical art of astral travelling – which makes him a better man than anyone has ever given him credit for.

© 2014 Tony Barrell

August 20, 2014

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About the Author

Tony Barrell is a pop historian, journalist, editor and Londoner who has spent much of his life interviewing musicians. He has written many major articles for The Sunday Times and other publications. His 2017 work The Beatles on the Roof is the first book to be published about the Fab Four’s famous 1969 rooftop concert.

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