Classic Halloween Rock: Marilyn Manson
These days Marilyn Manson’s private life (which is not so private) is more shocking than his public persona.
There was this kid, born in Canton, OH, who was attending a Christian school. For a school play he was cast as Jesus. But the lure of Rock was too much. Moving with his family to South Florida when he was 18, Brian Warner started combining elements of both Alice Cooper and David Bowie while adding a third potent element. Daytime talk shows. Let it all hang out. Every lurid detail exposed. No mercy. No justice. Just a load of notoriety. Good or bad doesn’t apply. Just fame. The allotted 15 minutes.
Warner’s first clever stroke was picking a stage name. He took the first name of a ’50s sex-goddess, icon, movie star and combined it with a ’60s psycho-killer to come up with Marilyn Manson.
Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids soon paired down the name. Also, along the way, band members took the first name of a model/actress and the last name of a serial killer: Madonna Wayne Gacy (keyboards), Ginger Fish (drums). Twiggy Ramirez (bass) and Zim Zum (guitar).
Two years after the ’96 album “Portrait Of An American Family” in ’96, Manson returned with the riff driven, nihilistic blaster “Antichrist Superstar.” A track from the album, “The Beautiful People,” was later certified silver in the U.K. for sales of 200,000 units.
Nothing could top that, but “Mechanical Animals,” in ’98, clearly showed Marilyn Manson was still a contender.
’99 found Marilyn Manson sharing a troubled tour with Hole. Manson fans eventually won with Hole bailing. In ’02 “Holy Wood” hit the stores. The following year, with new bassist Tim Skold in tow, Manson released “The Golden Age Of Grotesque.”
Overcoming a list of personal trials and tribulations, including divorce (from performance artist Dita Von Teese), Manson returned in ’07 with “Eat Me, Drink Me,” the group/singer’s sixth studio album.
It was recorded at a rented home-recording studio in Hollywood by Manson and Skold. (The songs) are clearly written to seduce somebody,” said Manson. “I don’t want people to think that the record is some kind of exploitation of my personal life. At the same time, it also represents exactly who I am and what I feel. . . I really wanted to be a singer on this album.”
“Eat Me, Drink Me” opened with the epic “If I Was Your Vampire” but first single, “Heart-Shaped Glasses (When The Heart Guides The Hand)” grabbed all the attention. Or at least the song’s video did with Manson and girlfriend Evan Rachel Wood kissing maliciously while having sex. Now there’s a visual! Oh and let’s not forget the fake blood that rained down.
Produced by Manson, keyboardist Chris Vrenna, and Ramirez, “The High End Of Low” was recorded at Manson’s Hollywood Hills studio (probably no better place to feed off the surroundings). “The record sounds very final, but it’s almost optimistic — though that feels like a strange word to use,” said Manson. “Arma… geddon,” was the lead single. It peaked at #37 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. The album made its debut at #4 on the Billboard 200.
The disarray that marked Manson’s life did not go unnoticed. “Seeing him now, drugs and alcohol now rule his life and he’s become a dopey clown,” said Nine In Nails frontman and early supporter Trent Reznor. “He used to be the smartest guy in the room. And as a fan of his talents, I hope he gets his s**t together.”
Bassist Fred Sablan, who joined the group in ’10, packed it in six months before Manson’s 9th album, “The Pale Emperor,” dropped.
Two years passed before Marilyn Manson issued their tenth studio album, “Heaven Upside Down” (originally titled “Say 10”). The band (Manson, Tyler Bates, Twiggy and Gil Sharone) recorded parts of the album in Louisiana, where Manson was filming scenes for the TV series Salem.
The next to leave was drummer Gil Sharone. He joined Manson in 2013, performing on ‘15’s “The Pale Emperor” and ‘17’s “Heaven Upside Down.” He said his time with Manson “one of the highlights of my career.”
Manson issued his eleventh studio album, “We Are Chaos,” in ’20. Produced by Manson and Grammy Award winner Shooter Jennings, the set was recorded, and finished before a COVID-19 pandemic. The album’s cover featured Manson’s painting titled “Infinite Darkness.”
“We Are Chaos” went #1 on the Billboard Top Rock Albums chart. It also debuted at #8 on the Billboard 200 becoming Manson’s 10th Top 10 album.
While everything appeared to be going great as far as his career was concerned, Manson was soon embroiled in a number of sexual abuse cases involving actress Evan Rachel Wood, “Game Of Thrones” actress Esmé Bianco and Manson’s former personal assistant Ashley Waters. There were a number of other accusations and lawsuits revolving around Manson’s behavior.
But back in the ‘90s Manson ruled the Shock Rock genre. Too bad his personal demons took him over the high side.