Audio Archives: Phil Kaufman Interviewed by Deputy District Attorney Aaron Stovitz, January 27, 1970

Friday, November 30th, 2012

“Musically speaking, he is valid”

Dec. 3 – For this installment of the Audio Archives, we will travel back to Tuesday, January 27, 1970, and listen to Deputy District Attorney Aaron Stovitz interview Phil Kaufman, in Stovitz’s office at the Hall of Justice.

In this short interview, Kaufman discusses Charlie’s music, the issues with getting it distributed, the murders, and newspaper accounts of the crimes.

Phil Kaufman

Phil Kaufman, 34 years-old at the time of this interview, was serving time in Terminal Island prison for smuggling marijuana when he met Charles Manson. Kaufman, who worked in the entertainment industry, was impressed by Manson’s singing and songwriting. Before Charlie was paroled in March of 1967, Kaufman encouraged Charlie to see a friend about recording his music.

In March of 1970, Kaufman helped the Manson girls get some of Charlie’s music released on an album titled LIE.

“Everyone else was afraid to put out the album,” said Catherine Share, “so we had to do it ourselves.”

In September of 1973, Kaufman’s good friend, Gram Parsons, fatally overdosed on a combination of Morphine and Alcohol. Before his death, Parsons had told Kaufman that he wished to be cremated at the Joshua Tree National Monument. To honor his friend’s wishes, Kaufman stole Parson’s body from LAX and drove out to Joshua Tree, doused it with 5 gallons of gasoline and lit the coffin.

Kaufman went on to become one of the most famous road managers, working for acts like Emmylou Harris, The Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa and Joe Cocker.

In 2003, the Kaufman/Parsons story was brought to the big screen, in the major motion picture, Grand Theft Parsons, with Johnny Knoxville playing Kaufman.

Deputy District Attorney Aaron Stovitz

Deputy District Attorney Aaron Stovitz, 45 years-old at the time of this interview, had been with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for 16 years.

Stovitz enlisted in the Air Force and flew 34 combat missions during World War II and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He attended Brooklyn College, and then moved to California, where he attended law school at Southwestern University, graduating Magna Cum Laude.

At the age of 28, Stovitz became a Deputy District Attorney with Los Angele County in 1952, trying his first murder case 2 years later. Stovitz eventually headed the Trials Division, and supervised 30 deputy district attorneys.

He was the chief prosecutor in the Tate/LaBianca case until September of 1970, when District Attorney Evelle Younger removed him after some of Stovitz’s off the record comments about Susan Atkins made it to print.

Stovitz was a D.A. with Los Angeles County for 30 years, leaving in 1981. He then worked as a special prosecutor for Santa Clara County on a murder case that was relocated and tried in Los Angeles. Stovitz then worked as a trial attorney in Ventura County for 2 years. Followed up by almost a decade of defense work, and then consulting.

Aaron died of Leukemia on January 25, 2010. The 85 year-old attorney was survived by this wife, daughter, two sons, and seven grandchildren.

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12 Responses to Audio Archives: Phil Kaufman Interviewed by Deputy District Attorney Aaron Stovitz, January 27, 1970

  1. Silentseason says:

    I know nothing about Kaufman so I look forward to hearing this interview without any preconceived ideas. Thanks again for sharing.

  2. johnnyseattle says:

    hey CD
    I can’t wait to hear Phil Kaufman circa 1970.

    Is there any-chance you could bring on Phil K later and have him comment on the tape?

    He might have some interesting observations about that day.

  3. pvm777 says:

    Cool! “The Road Mangler”!

  4. BarrieLouise says:

    These audio archives are so fascinating. So far my favorite was the Ella Jo Bailey interview. I hope there is much more audio to come. I find myself checking this web page several times a week.

  5. johnnyseattle says:

    I love that line, ‘aside from being on strike against the barbers…’ just a perfect Aaron Stovitz way of saying things.

    Funny how Phil Kaufman terms it ‘still in school’ when referring to being at Terminal Island.
    Aaron doesn’t sound too convinced that Charlie is a good musician despite what Phil Kaufman just told him.

    Sure would love to hear the reflections of a Phil Kaufman today after listening to that tape. What it was like for him, etc.

    • cielodrive.com says:

      Yeah, those lines about the barbers and being in school, made me laugh. I did email Phil, asking about Harold and if he still had any contact with him. I didn’t hear back though. I emailed him through his website, which is pretty old, so who knows if that even gets checked.

      Phil did do a recent interview though. If you get the Investigation Discovery channel, there is going to be a show on next Monday morning, called “Twisted”. It was produced by a British company and aired over there under another title which I can’t remember. Anyway, Phil is on that show.

  6. Xfirehurricane says:

    Phil on SA…. “if she told me the time I would have to go check to make sure”
    He definitely knew her alright.

    He was pretty convinced that Charlie had enough to make it in the Music Business if he wasn’t such a nomad and would knuckle down a bit.

  7. Silentseason says:

    Kaufman comes across as an enigma. Definitely well above the mentality of the Family, but another individual who saw something special in Manson. Go figure. Stovitz again steals the show: something of a gallows sense of humor. I would have liked to have heard a long interview with him and his take on the whole thing.

  8. Revatron says:

    Silentseason, I don’t think there’s anything weird about seeing something special in Manson. I’m not pro Manson, far from it, but I do disagree with most people about his music abilities. He had a very nice tone to his voice, good rhythm, and phrasing as Mr. Kaufman put it, and not a hell of a lot of people wrote there own songs back then. His guitar work is very mediocre, and his recordings are more along the lines of demo tapes. When Phil Kaufman heard him sing he heard potential.

    When people like Dennis Wilson heard Manson sing surrounded by girls they heard/saw potential. They didn’t think, “Oh I’ve got to record THIS, THIS IS the record.” That’s not the record, it’s the demo/audition if you will.

    Bands are created, songs are arranged and produced. The music industry was an assembly line back then, and had a Manson song gone down the line and been built up and recorded professionally you MIGHT have had something. That’s the gamble. Terry Melcher passed, but Terry was an established record producer looking for hit records. Phil was new and looking for talent wherever he heard it.

    Cielo, these tapes are incredible. I never thought we’d get to hear any of this stuff. This is better than any book. Thanks a lot.

  9. Gina says:

    This was very good and contradicts what so many say about Charle’s musical abilities.

    I notice that he doesn’t have any pending legal issues hanging over his head, and seems to be the least helpful to the prosecutions case so far.

    What’s next? I look forward to hearing more.

  10. Gina says:

    Will there be more audio archives coming soon?

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