“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, 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.