Lucifer, Arisen

A quintessential San Francisco story, starring charismatic musician/murderer Bobby BeauSoleil*

*with underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger, cult leader Charles Manson, Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey, and the Straight Satans motorcycle gang in suppo

According to both BeauSoleil and DeCarlo's testimony, BeauSoleil held a gun to Hinman, then pistol-whipped him. The music teacher insisted he had no money, BeauSoleil says, and one of the girls telephoned Manson during the scuffle. Hinman had already agreed to sign over ownership of his two junker cars, BeauSoleil says, when there was a knock at the door. According to both BeauSoleil and DeCarlo, Manson rushed in and slashed Hinman's face with a small sword, splitting his ear.

"I heard Manson say something to me like, 'That's how you be a man,'" BeauSoleil said in a revealing interview with writer/ musician Michael Moynihan in Seconds magazine.

Manson left, and, panicking, BeauSoleil says he tried to sew up Hinman's face with dental floss. "I knew he'd tell them what happened if he went to the hospital," says BeauSoleil. "I was trying to tell him, 'Gary, it will heal, you don't have to go to the hospital.' But he was freaking out -- for obvious reasons -- worried about infection ... he was going to have a scar for life."

BeauSoleil in the 1990s.
Courtesy of Barbara BeauSoleil
BeauSoleil in the 1990s.
BeauSoleil in the 1970s.
Courtesy of Barbara BeauSoleil
BeauSoleil in the 1970s.

BeauSoleil dialed Manson again, screaming at him for leaving him in such a terrible position.

"Well, you know what to do as well as I do," Manson told him, according to DeCarlo and BeauSoleil.

"I kind of had to screw up my courage," BeauSoleil says. "I went outside and paced. I freaked out. Just freaked out. There wasn't anybody in the room when I stabbed him. I rushed at him. I stabbed him once, and he didn't fall. Then I did it again, and he did."

In DeCarlo's version of things, there was no drug burn; BeauSoleil and the girls just wanted money, and Hinman wasn't cooperating. It was BeauSoleil, DeCarlo told investigators, who called Manson the first time, complaining Hinman wouldn't give it up.

In a clumsy attempt to make the police think one of Hinman's radical lefty friends had done him in, a member of the trio (BeauSoleil says he can't remember who) scrawled "political piggies" on the wall in blood before leaving. Ten days later, BeauSoleil was arrested driving one of the dead man's cars with the murder weapon in the rear wheel well.

The Tate-LaBianca murders went down within three days of BeauSoleil's arrest. Some speculate the motive for the murders was to free BeauSoleil, by making it look like Hinman's "real" killer had struck again. On the wall of the LaBiancas' house, police found the word "piggies" written in blood.

BeauSoleil was eventually sentenced to death for the murder. When California repealed the death penalty in 1972, BeauSoleil's sentence was commuted to life in prison. In every book, movie, and television show about the Manson Family, BeauSoleil would forever be linked to the most gruesome killing spree of his era. This frustrated him to no end. After all, he wasn't involved in the Tate-LaBianca murders and had had a legitimate career as a musician before his crime.

"What's heartbreaking to me more than anything else is that killing Gary Hinman has negated all of my creative efforts," BeauSoleil said in a 1981 interview in Ouimagazine. "(The world) doesn't concentrate on anything other than that one mistake I made in my life."

In the mid-1970s, BeauSoleil had gone from a 22-year-old kid who was, as he puts it, "too damn pretty for prison" to a tough-looking 29-year-old covered in tattoos, including the word "Lucifer," which he'd inked across his chest using a broken guitar string. He'd been laid up in the hospital after getting knocked in the head with a baseball bat during a melee at San Quentin. Coincidentally, Kenneth Anger got the same tattoo in nearly the exact same place a few years later. It's improbable either of them knew of the other's.

In 1976, while an inmate at Dueul Correctional Institute in Tracy, BeauSoleil learned that Lucifer Rising, the movie, was still unfinished. He and Anger hadn't spoken since the night of "Equinox of the Gods," though Anger had sent BeauSoleil a postcard when he was on death row. It was in an Egyptian motif and depicted a harpist playing to Horus; it read, "They also serve those who sit and wait."

One day BeauSoleil read in a magazine that Anger had hired Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page to do the Lucifer Risingsoundtrack.

"I felt that it was mine," says BeauSoleil. He wrote to Anger asking if he could take over.

Page and Anger were on the outs by that point, and Anger agreed to let BeauSoleil take a crack. BeauSoleil wrote the warden, the now-deceased R.M. Dees, for permission to work on the project in prison. "I'm not going to stand in the way of a guy making a buck," BeauSoleil remembers the warden saying.

BeauSoleil recruited other inmates for his band, which he called the Freedom Orchestra. One, strangely enough, was a Manson Family associate named Steve Grogan. BeauSoleil went about the project as zealously as if his life depended on it, and in a sense, it did. "Here I am in prison, stripped of ostensibly everything, and I had begun to rebuild myself," says BeauSoleil. "[I thought,] 'This reality does not define me. I'm still rockin'!'"

« Previous Page
Next Page »
My Voice Nation Help

Around The Web

©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.