Did Charles Manson Try to Join The Monkees?

The Monkees got big around the same time Charles Manson’s crimes shocked the world. Manson was a musician and a rumor floated around that he auditioned for the Prefab Four. Is the rumor true? And if it’s false, who started it?

Charles Manson with police officers
Charles Manson | John Malmin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Famous people who auditioned for The Monkees

Often, bands come together because musicians who know each other decide they’d work together as a group. The Monkees, on the other hand, came together in a different way: through auditions. According to Me TV, over 400 musicians and actors tried out to play the title characters in The Monkees’ sitcom. Among the most famous were Paul Williams and Stephen Stills. In a way, it would have made sense for Manson to have a role on the show, as he was a folk singer.

The connection between Charles Manson and Mickey Dolenz

So did he actually try out for The Monkees? According to Uproxx, he did not. However, we do know who created this rumor: The Monkees’ own Mickey Dolenz.

“I just made a joke: ‘Everybody auditioned for the Monkees, Stephen Stills, Paul Williams and Charlie Manson!’” Dolenz said. “And everybody took it as gospel, and now it’s an urban myth!” Although Dolenz’s comment was meant as a joke, it became one of the most popular urban legends of 1960s rock, up there with the famous “Paul is dead” myth.

Perhaps the myth endured because the juxtaposition between the wholesome Monkees and the notorious Manson was so striking. Perhaps the myth endured because Manson existed on the fringes of the Los Angeles music scene at some points.

“(Theme From) The Monkees”

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Why Charles Manson couldn’t have auditioned for The Monkees

According to Snopes, Manson simply could not have auditioned for the Prefab Four even if he wanted to do so. The Monkees auditions took place in 1965. During that year, Manson was imprisoned at the United States Penitentiary at McNeil Island. In addition, the actors and musicians auditioning to become part of the Prefab Four were supposed to be between the ages of 17 and 21. Manson was 30 at the time. 

Charles Manson’s real musical legacy

Though he never worked with Davy Jones and company, Manson did leave behind a musical legacy. Since 1970, a number of his albums have been released, the most famous being Lie: The Love and Terror Cult. If The Monkees’ discography was less polished and had stranger lyrics, it might sound like some of Manson’s songs.

“Look at Your Game, Girl” by Charles Manson

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According to Billboard, interest in Manson’s music persists. Musician Malcolm Tent created a vinyl package of Manson music. Tent explained “I wanted to make a tasteful package. With me, there’s a huge fascination with uncovering these lost nuggets, especially from what’s come to be known as ‘outsider artists.’ I think Charles Manson is probably the ultimate outsider: He is nowhere near our society or our reality.”

His tracks have been covered by a number of notable artists, including The Beach Boys, Guns N’ Roses, and Marilyn Manson, an artist who famously appropriated Manson’s last name. The world did get to hear Manson sing and play music — just not with The Monkees.