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Connect the Dots: Coppertone, Brutal Murder, Leicester Guitar Rock

Off-topic Sunday. Not very Christmassy, but there's plenty of that elsewhere out there...

I was listening to the internet radio station, WFMU Ichiban. It plays a mixture of '60s garage punk, rock and roll, early country (think Hank Williams and Wanda Jackson) and more (Brenda Lee, Sweet Nothin's is playing right now). Every now and then there's a presenter, but 99% of the time I tune in it's continuous music interspersed with the odd archive advert or radio ident from the 1960s.

During my most recent listen there was an advert for Coppertone sun lotion. The ad first namechecked Sharon Tate and had her voice endorsing the product. The name instantly clicked as the actress murdered by the Manson Family. I knew the name, knew she was heavily pregnant when murdered, knew she was the partner of film director Roman Polanski (they were married, I wasn't positive on that). I knew Polanksi who was out of town when the murders of his wife and friends took place. I knew Manson wasn't at the scene of this murder but was convicted of orchestrating it, and other murders, and died in prison last year, 48 years after the killings. What I didn't know was why Tate was targeted, so I went searching.

First I found the audio clip on YouTube, that someone had mated with clips from the movie, Don't Make Waves, that is also mentioned in the advert. The Coppertone ad is at the top of this post.

Tony Curtis stars in Don't Make Waves, and Tate is billed as 'Introducing...' in the trailer below, even though she had been in several films and TV shows, dating back to 1961. Tate was award nominated for a later film, Valley Of The Dolls, but Don't make Waves is a bawdy romp that ticks every 1960s' cliché box. It's pure pop junk, and appears to be barely a level above Carry On films.

I kept researching. It turns out the Polanski/Tate house was targeted because Manson had tried to secure a pop music recording contract, but had been rebuffed by the record producer, Terry Melcher. Melcher was the previous tenant of 10050 Cielo Drive that Tate and Polanski moved into. Manson went to the address to confront Melcher only to discover he no longer lived there, and Manson was sent packing. In his severely twisted brain, the crackpot decided the house and its successful, famous inhabitants were an ill in the world that he was opposed to. He decided to send four brainwashed members of his cult, nicknamed The Family, to kill the inhabitants of 10050 Cielo Drive. Of the four, one was male, three female.

On the night of the murders, 9 August 1969, Tate was entertaining three friends. No one at the house survived the brutality.

One of the Manson family who drove to Cielo Drive, Linda Kasabian, was involved, she disposed of the weapons, but reports say she didn't kill or attack anyone herself, and she became the crucial witness in putting Manson in prison, but not before he had ordered more killings.

As I was reading this, the name of Kasabian immediately recalled a musical link and more internet searching confirmed the Leicester guitar band (formed 1997, video below) took their name directly from the Manson family member.

Subsequently I found out Quentin Tarantino is making a film about Charles Manson, the Family and the Tate murder, which will be released on the 50th anniversary of the murder. As I read it the final flicker of fondness I had for the director was snuffed out. There's exploitation and then there's exploitation. What a desperate prick.

So that was the journey from hearing a 50-year-old radio advert. Yes, I'm easily distracted nowadays...

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