Dennis And The Wizard
In the spring of 1968, as Friends languished in record stores, Dennis met a mysterious drifter and songwriter named Charles Manson. This wild-eyed would-be prophet broke into the house Dennis was renting on Sunset Boulevard one night and made himself at home. Manson brought with him a group of young women, and this “family” convinced Dennis to let them stay. Charlie, or “the Wizard” as Dennis called him, even enlisted the musician's help in recording some songs he had written.
Dennis, who had recently split up with Carol, was fascinated by the magnetic Manson. He let Charlie use his house and possessions as if they were his own, and Manson was soon borrowing cash and cars and demanding that Dennis book studio time for him. Dennis obliged, but he eventually began to fear the unpredictable Manson and his followers. He demanded that they leave his house and even went into hiding for a while. It was the right move: In August 1969, the Manson family murdered the occupants of a house where Dennis's friend Terry Melcher had once lived. Before the brutal slayings, Charlie had threatened Dennis's life, claiming that the Beach Boy hadn't lived up to his promise to get Manson a record deal. The killers were arrested and tried in November of that year, and Charles Manson was sentenced to life in prison.
Despite these horrifying events, one of Charlie's tunes turned up on the Beach Boys' next album, which was also their twentieth. Aside from the Manson-penned “Never Learn Not to Love” (originally titled “Cease to Exist”), 20/20 featured “Cabin Essence” and “Time to Get Alone,” both left over from Smile, a new composition from Brian called “I Went to Sleep,” and the lovely “I Can Hear Music,” produced by Carl. Described by Bruce as “a very un-Brian album” because of the increased contribution by other members of the band, 20/20 was a commercial failure. The group went on a European tour to support the album, but shortly after returning home they learned that Capitol Records had canceled their contract. The Beach Boys were without a label.