Record, Film Producer Takes Stand at Manson Murder Trial
Sunday, October 18th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 18 – The man who may have unwittingly set off a chain of events which led to the murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others testified today at the trial of Charles Manson and three female followers.
The witness is 30-year old Gregg Jakobson, a record and film producer who first met Manson two years ago and introduced the hippie chieftain to Terry Melcher.
Melcher, a producer himself and son of actress Doris Day, is the former employer of Jakobson, who was interested in getting Manson a recording contract.
He testified that Manson auditioned twice for Melcher last year, but the producer wasn’t impressed with the guru’s singing and guitar playing.
Melcher dropped the matter, said the witness, and he tried to tell Manson as “tactfully” as possible.
Jakobson testified that Manson apparently was eager to reach Melcher and eventually indicated he’d gone to the producer’s beach house in Malibu.
Melcher once lived at the Benedict Canyon estate where Miss Tate was killed in August 1969.
He had lived in the home two years before the actress and her husband, filmmaker Roman Polanski, rented it.
The prosecution and police have speculated that Manson ordered his followers to go to the home because he knew that Melcher once lived there.
Manson reportedly held a grudge against Melcher because the producer was not interested in making a recording deal.
Most of Jakobson’s testimony dealt with Manson’s philosophy and lifestyle.
The tall, dark-haired witness, said several tunes that he had “respected” Manson and felt although he disagreed with many of the cult chiefs views, he felt Manson was “serious about them.”
On cross examination by Paul J. Fitzgerald, attorney for one of the female defendants, Jakobson said he thought Manson showed musical talent.
He seemed impressed with Manson’s songs and said the defendant always played and sung his own compositions.
The witness described Manson as a truthful man who was interested in protecting teenagers and children from the evils of the world.
Jakobson also testified during cross-examination that Manson loved animals and seemed to have a certain rapport with them.
Earlier, the witness told the seven men and five women trying Manson and the others that the cult chief acted like a caged animal when he saw him shortly after the murders.
He said Manson seemed to ooze electricity and had a wild look in his eye.
Jakobson also testified that when he first met Manson in the spring of 1968, the cultist seemed not to care for material possessions.
Later, however, he said Manson began to acquire guns and vehicles for a trip to the desert to escape the imagined armageddon “Helter Skelter.”
Manson, he said, even wanted the girls in his “family to go to work as topless dancers so they could get enough money to buy an expensive rope.
They needed thousands of feet of this rope, Jakobson explained, to climb down to the “bottomless pit” in Death Valley, where Manson believed they would be safe from “Helter Skelter.”
None of the defendants were in the courtroom during testimony from Jakobson.
Trial Judge Charles H. Older evicted them from the proceedings nearly two weeks ago after he ruled they had disrupted the courtroom.
The jurist each day asks defense attorneys if Manson and the others will come back and behave themselves.
Each tune, the answer has been “no.” Attorneys in fact have said that Manson and the young women prefer their solitary state.
Jakobson’s testimony dealt mostly with Manson’s philosophy and the hippie chieftain’s almost fanatical interest in the music of the British rock group, The Beatles.
“The Beatles” were “prophets.”
The witness added that Manson could “read messages” contained in the lyrics of their songs especially in an album produced in late 1968 or early 1969.
The album contains several songs, but Manson’s favorites were “Helter Skelter,” “Revolution,” “Sexy Sadie,” “Blackbird” and “Piggies.”
Jakobson said Manson, whom he first met in the spring of 1968, often talked of “Helter Skelter” – which the hippie chief described as a black-white bloodbath in which the Negroes were to emerge victorious and take over the United States.
The Beatles song, in Manson’s eyes, meant that “Helter Skelter” was “imminent,” the witness told the jury.
“Helter Skelter was gonna come down, it was coming down,” he added. Prosecutor Vincent T. Bugliosi asked how Manson felt “Helter “Skelter” would begin.
“It would begin by the ripping off of some white families in their homes … by the blacks,” Jakobson replied. “He went further to say that they would be cut up, dismembered and so on.”
The witness explained Manson felt the blacks would win the bloodbath, but he and his “family” of young nomads would escape destruction by going to Death Valley.
“He firmly believed there was a bottomless pit in the Death Valley that could be inhabited,” Jakobson noted.
He said Manson also believed the blacks would eventually get tired of running the country and turn over the reins of power to any whites left — namely, Charles Manson and his little band of followers.
Jakobson also claimed Manson said all this information was in the Beatles’ songs and in the Book of Revelation, Chapter Nine, in the Bible.
Bugliosi read some parts of the songs and some passages from Revelations Nine to Jakobson and asked him to tell of Manson’s theories on the words.
Jakobson’s answers included such information as:
• “Helter Skelter…was Armageddon…the last battle in the streets,” in Manson’s opinion. The song lyrics “suggested” the idea of the “bottomless pit” to Manson and he actually found the words in the Book of Revelation.
• The song “Blackbird” was a story of the “black man…with his broken wings learning to fly.”
The song “Piggies” was about the white establishment; Manson said “it was whitey’s turn to get a good whacking…at the hands of the black man.”
• The song “Revolution 9,” which has no lyrics, was a direct parallel to Revelation Nine in the Bible.
• Revelation Nine, meanwhile, makes direct reference to “The Beatles” because it speaks of men with “hair like women.”
Manson felt he would know which whites would be spared the bloodbath because the Bible speaks of “the seal of God upon their foreheads.” The hippie chief and his followers have carved “X’s” on their foreheads since the trial began.
Jakobson testified that Manson could quote the particular book in the Bible and even acquired a record player for the Spahn Ranch near Chatsworth, stronghold of the family, so he could play the album over and over again.
Manson’s other philosophy was brought out by Jakobson, who said the cult chief believed:
• He was ” Jesus Christ” and “The Devil.”
• There was no such thing as right or wrong; “He said that he could do no right or wrong…”
• “There wasn’t any good or bad.”
• There was no death because “he said that he had died a long time ago and he had experienced death many times.”
• Since there wasn’t any death, it wasn’t wrong to kill a human being. (Interestingly, however, Jakobson said Manson became “very upset” with him once when he ran over a spider and killed it).
“He related to all human beings at their level..he had a thousand faces…a mask for each person whom he dealt with.”
• “Time does not exist.” Jakobson said he first met Manson when the hippie chief was living at the Pacific Palisades home of Dennis Wilson, a member of the “Beach Boys” rock group.
Wilson and Jakobson later lived together in the Beverly Glen area and Manson used to stop by frequently, the witness said.
Jakobson’s testimony was introduced by the prosecution in an attempt to substantiate its argument that Manson ordered the Tate-LaBianca murders to precipitate “Helter Skelter.”
Other witnesses have said Manson felt the bloodbath wasn’t beginning on schedule so he thought the black man should be shown how to start it.
By SANDI METTETAL