The Beach Boys’ Southern California sound was synonymous with sunshine, but founding member Mike Love remembers when darkness crept into their world through a brief connection to Charles Manson, who drove his followers to murder in the late 1960s.
Love himself had a strange encounter with the Manson “family” leader, as he details in his new memoir, Good Vibrations, exclusively excerpted in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
In his book, Love, 75, shares the highs and lows of the band formed by brothers Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson, along with their cousin Love and high school pal Al Jardine. The act still tours, and its enduring influence is evidenced by more than 100 million records sold and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“I never lose sight of the overwhelming positivity of our music,” Love, a father of eight and married to wife Jacquelyne, 51, tells PEOPLE. “I still see it every night in the faces of the people who come to our shows.”
That engaging openness, however, led Dennis Wilson to naively align himself during the band’s late-’60s peak with a group of misfits who would become notorious after a Los Angeles killing spree. Their August 1969 slayings left seven dead, including Sharon Tate, the pregnant actress wife of director Roman Polanski.
To read more about Mike Love’s recollections of Charles Manson, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
Love writes that Dennis’ marriage had broken up by June 1968, and Dennis was renting a former hunting lodge on Sunset Boulevard. That spring Dennis picked up two young women hitchhiking on Sunset Strip and brought them to his home.
He told them of his involvement with transcendental meditation founder Maharishi, “and the women said they too had a guru, named Charlie.”
“My cousin’s interest in Manson now seems inexplicable,” Love writes in his memoir, “but in reality Manson tapped into parts of Dennis that make it all too explainable.”
Love himself met the aspiring rock star Manson – who, along with his “girls,” had moved into Dennis Wilson’s home, where they spent Dennis’ money, took his clothes and ate his food – over dinner at the house with fellow performer Bruce Johnston. After the meal, Manson summoned the men to the den, “where he turned on a strobe light and revealed all of his girls lying there, naked,” Love writes.
“He started passing out LSD tabs and was orchestrating sex partners,” Love writes. “I love the female form, but this was too much.”
Love bowed out to take a shower but found himself suddenly joined by Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, who years later tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford. “Before I could tell her to get lost,” Love writes, “Manson himself arrived.”
“He looked up at me with those dark, beady eyes and said, ‘You can’t do that.’ ”
“Excuse me?” Love replied.
“You can’t leave the group.”
Love made an excuse that he and Johnston needed to return to the studio. “We got the hell out of there,” he writes, “and as we pulled out of the driveway, I thought, Denny, you’ve got a real nut case for a roommate now.”
• Reporting by JOHNNY DODD