Charles Milles Manson is an American criminal and musician who led what became known as the Manson Family, a quasi-commune that arose in California in the late 1960s. He was found guilty of conspiracy to commit the murders of Sharon Tate and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca carried out by members of the group at his instruction. He was convicted of the murders through the joint-responsibility rule, which makes each member of a conspiracy guilty of crimes his fellow conspirators commit in furtherance of the conspiracy's objective.
Manson believed in what he called "Helter Skelter," a term he took from the song of the same name by The Beatles. 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 his 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. The term was later used by Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi as the title of a book he wrote about the Manson murders.
At the time the Family began to form, Manson was an unemployed ex-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, founding member and drummer 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, including Guns N' Roses, White Zombie and Marilyn Manson, have covered some of his songs.