Henry Rollins has had one fascinating life. He was in one of the most important punk bands of all time, he played Vanilla Ice in a music video, he has been the voiceover actor for Infiniti, he had a talk show on IFC, he had a small part in Jack Frost.....
In the 1980s Rollins also produced a full album by Charles Manson for SST, which would have made the noted psychopath and cult leader, who wanted to bring about a race war, labelmates with Bad Brains. The release of the album, entitled Completion, was cancelled due to safety concerns. Only five copies of the album were ever pressed; two belong to Rollins and the other three apparently are Manson’s.
In December 2010, Rollins participated in an event at the Echoplex in Los Angeles to benefit the Santa Monica radio station KCRW in which he played a variety of ultra-rare tracks, including a live rendition of “Pay to Cum” from the second show Bad Brains ever played, the first-ever Fugazi demo (“Waiting Room”), several Black Flag rarities, and one of the songs from the Manson album Rollins produced for SST. When he played the track—the title of which has, to my knowledge, not been made public—Rollins joked, “I can hear you all listening to your hair grow.”
In 2008 Rollins told the NME of the correspondence with Manson that led to the recordings:
“He wrote me a letter out of the blue once and he said, ‘I saw you on MTV and I thought you were pretty cool’.
“So we corresponded a few times in 1984; I’d just tell him about what we were doing with our new record and he’d send back semi-lucid responses.
“He made references to The Beach Boys stealing his ideas, which sounded like sour grapes, and told me to tell everybody else to take care of wildlife. That must have been the old hippy in him talking.”
Rollins outlined that he was very young when he started corresponding with Manson—who was sentenced to life in 1971 for the infamous Manson Family Murders which took place two years earlier.
“At the time I was very young and having him write me letters made me feel very intense and heavy,” he said. “I’d always know I’d have a letter in my PO Box from him because the woman behind the counter at the post office would give you this awful look.
“His letters would always have swastikas on them so they were easy to spot.”
According to a 2010 article in The Guardian, “A lawyer representing Manson wrote to SST, asking them to help complete and release a collection of Manson’s songs. Then as now, Manson was serving a life sentence for his role in the Tate/LaBianca murders. ... Rollins agreed to produce the songs but a string of death threats forced SST to call off the project.”
In the mind of almost everyone, Manson is first and foremost a homicidal lunatic. It’s quite clear that in his own mind, Manson is first and foremost a musician. During his detainment before his 1971 trial, Manson was “very anxious for his music to be heard” and enlisted his friend Phil Kaufman to get his music released. Indeed, an album called Lie: The Love & Terror Cult was released on March 6, 1970. As recently as 2010-11 Manson has released two albums of folk music on Magic Bullet Records called Air and Trees. Here’s “Gas Chamber,” a track from Air.