The cast of characters

If Beach Boy Dennis Wilson or record producer Terry Melcher had gotten a contract for Charles Manson, maybe he wouldn’t have sought revenge by sending murderers to Melcher’s old house.
Actor Jack Nicholson with Michelle Phillips and Cass Elliot of the Mamas and the Papas
Susan Denise Atkins (aka Sadie Mae Glutz), one of the principal killers recruited by Charles Manson. Manson preyed on lost souls when assembling his ‘family.’
Dennis Wilson was the best-looking and most charismatic of the Beach Boys. His sex addiction led to his notorious residency with Charles Manson in the house they shared on Sunset Boulevard.
The Ronettes in all of their hirsute splendor. Left to right, Nedra Talley, Veronica Bennett and Estelle Bennett.
Jack Nicholson, at right, with Michael Nesmith of the Monkees. Nicholson helped write the screenplay for the Monkees’ film ‘Head.’
David Crosby was fired from the Byrds but recovered nicely by finding Joni Mitchell and producing her first album in 1968.
After Neil Young heard Charles Manson sing while visiting Dennis Wilson’s house, he recommended him to Mo Ostin, the president of Warner-Reprise Records.
You have heard these drums. Hal Blaine, the bedrock of the Wrecking Crew, played on hundreds of hit records and was the first session musician inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Joni Mitchell (left), Cass Elliot of the Mamas and the Papas and Mitchell’s first manager, David Geffen.
Carol Kaye began as a jazz guitarist and played on sessions with Ritchie Valens and Sam Cooke, but then became the pre-eminent bass player of the in-studio Wrecking Crew in the 1960s.
Brian Wilson (he’s the one at right) was a private man in a very public world. Pathologically shy and tormented by childhood demons, he poured himself into his music even as he retreated from life.
Cass Elliot was to Los Angeles rock’n’roll what Gertrude Stein was to the Lost Generation in Paris in the 1920s. In addition to her magnificence as a singer, she was a genius at putting people together. Exhibit A: Crosby, Stills and Nash. She also hosted open-door parties and let anyone into her house, including a cheap little hood named Charles Manson.
Glen Campbell, the gifted session guitarist and member of the Wrecking Crew, found mainstream success as a singer in the late 1960s
Dick Dale, king of the surf guitar, ignited a whole genre with his ‘wet’ style of playing. He turned up the volume so loud at shows that sometimes his amplifiers burst into flame. He grew up in the surfing culture of Quincy, Massachusetts.
Charles ‘Tex’ Watson carried out the Tate and LaBianca murders on the instruction of Charles Manson. In prison for the murders, he became a minister, married, and fathered several children.
Jan Berry and Dean Torrence. They were full-time college students — Jan was in medical school — who amused themselves with their weekend gig as Jan & Dean, “the clown princes of rock’n’roll.”
The Doors. They never looked happy. They didn’t do happy songs. No wonder their music endures. From left, Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger, John Densmore and Jim Morrison.
Bobby Fuller from El Paso found fame and death in Los Angeles. He fought the law but it wasn’t the law that fought him.
Los Angeles singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon was the primary opening act for the Beatles on the group’s first tour of America in 1964. Her music was essential to the formation of ‘folk rock.’
The Flying Burrito Brothers in 1968. Up front: Chris Hillman and Sneeky Pete Kleinow. Back row: Chris Etheridge and Gram Parsons.
Love. Its original incarnation featured Bobby Beausoliel, one of Manson’s killer crew, on lead guitar. At far right is lead singer Arthur Lee.
The Wrecking Crew in action, building the Wall of Sound. Three pianists playing at once — left to right, Don Randi, Leon Russell (Russell Bridges) and Al de Lory.
Ike and Tina Turner. Though only Tina sang on Phil Spector’s great production of ‘River Deep Mountain High,’ Ike insisted it be credited to the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.
The Mamas and the Papas. Left to right: Denny Doherty, Michelle Phillips, Cass Elliot and John Phillips.
The Beach Boys, 1962. Mike Love and Brian Wilson standing; up front, kneeling, Dennis Wilson, David Marks and Carl Wilson.
The kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr. in 1963 was unwittingly financed by Dean Torrence of Jan and Dean.
Buffalo Springfield was a short-term success but a long-time influence. From left to right, Bruce Palmer, Stephen Stills, Dewey Martin, Richie Furay and Neil Young.
The Byrds were considered ‘America’s answer to the Beatles.’ Left to right, Gene Clark, Michael Clarke (back), Chris Hillman (front), Jim McGuinn and David Crosby. McGuinn changed his name to Roger midway through the band’s tenure.
Sam Cooke, the prototype of a soul singer, brought gospel into the mainstream. He was killed December 10, 1964.
Terry Melcher was the youngest producer on the Columbia Records staff. He helped give the Byrds their distinctive sound and produced hits for Paul Revere & the Raiders, Bruce & Terry and the Ripchords. The first round of Charles Manson‘s murders were at Melcher’s old home and were clearly a message to the producer that he had committed a sin by not signing Manson to a recording contract.
As a teenager, Phil Sloan was writing hit songs for the surfing and hot-rod crowd. A few years later, he was P.F. Sloan, writing ‘Eve of Destruction’ and ‘The Sins of the Family.’