Marilyn Manson (band)

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This article is about the band. For the person, see Marilyn Manson.
Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson Live in Moscow 2012.JPG
Marilyn Manson performing in 2012
Background information
Origin Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States
Years active 1989–present
Associated acts
Past members

Marilyn Manson is an American rock band from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Formed in 1989 by frontman Marilyn Manson and Daisy Berkowitz, the group was originally named Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids with their theatrical performances gathering a local cult following in the early 1990s. The band's lineup has changed between many of their album releases; the current members of Marilyn Manson are the eponymous lead singer (the only remaining original member), bassist Twiggy Ramirez, guitarist Paul Wiley, keyboardist/percussionist Daniel Fox, and drummer Gil Sharone.

Until 1996, the name of each member was originally created by combining the first name of an iconic female sex symbol and the last name of an iconic serial killer, for example Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson.[6][7] The members of the band dress in outlandish makeup and costumes, and have engaged in intentionally shocking behavior both onstage and off. In the past, their lyrics often received criticism for their anti-religious sentiment and references to sex, violence and drugs. Their performances have frequently been called offensive and obscene, and, on several occasions, protests and petitions have led to the group being banned from performing.

As this controversy began to wane throughout the 2000s, so did the band's mainstream popularity. Despite this, Jon Wiederhorn of, in June 2003, referred to Marilyn Manson as "the only true artist today".[8] Marilyn Manson has garnered much success: in the US, three of the band's albums have been certified platinum while three more were certified gold, and the band has seen eight of its releases debut in the top ten,[9][10] including two number-one albums. VH1 has ranked Marilyn Manson as the 78th-best rock band on their 100 Great Artists of Hard Rock.[11] Aggregate site lists Marilyn Manson number 714 in their artist rank for greatest of all time.[12] Marilyn Manson has sold over 50 million records.[13][14][15][16][17]


Formation and The Spooky Kids (1989–92)[edit]

In 1989, Brian Warner was a college student working towards a degree in journalism at Broward College, gaining experience by writing music articles for the South Florida lifestyle magazine 25th Parallel.[18] It was in this capacity that he met several of the musicians to whom his own band would later be compared, including My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails.[19] That December, he met Scott Putesky, who proposed that the two form a band together after reading some lyrics and poems written by the singer.[20][21] Warner, guitarist Putesky and bassist Brian Tutunick recorded their first demo tape as Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids in 1990, taking on the stage names of Marilyn Manson, Daisy Berkowitz and Olivia Newton Bundy, respectively.[22] Bundy left the band soon after, and was replaced by Gidget Gein, born Brad Stewart.[23] They were later joined on keyboard by Stephen Bier, who called himself Madonna Wayne Gacy.[24] In 1991, drummer Fred Streithorst joined the band under the name Sara Lee Lucas.[25]

The stage names adopted by each member were representative of a concept the band considered central: the dichotomy of good and evil, and the existence of both, together, in every whole. "Marilyn Monroe had a dark side", explained Manson in his autobiography, "just as Charles Manson has a good, intelligent side." Images of both Monroe and Manson, as well as of other famous and infamous figures, were common in the band's early promotional materials.[26]

The Spooky Kids' popularity in the area grew quickly, largely thanks to the support of WYNX-FM DJ Scott David, who would regularly play songs from the band's demo tapes on air,[27] and because of the band's highly visual concerts, which drew from performance art and used many shock techniques such as "naked women nailed to a cross, a child in a cage, or bloody animal body parts."[28] Band members variously performed in women's clothing or bizarre costumes; and, for lack of a professional pyrotechnician, would set their own stage props on fire.[27] The band would contrast these theatrics with elements drawn from their youth: characters from 1970s and '80s children's television made regular, often grotesquely altered, appearances on band flyers and newsletters, and were frequently sampled in their music.[26] They continued to perform and release cassettes—shortening their name to Marilyn Manson in 1992—until the summer of 1993, when they drew the attention of Reznor, who had just founded his own label, Nothing Records.[2]

Portrait of an American Family and Smells Like Children (1993–1995)[edit]

Left to Right: Twiggy, Gacy and Manson performing at the "A Night of Nothing" industry showcase, 1996

Reznor offered the band a contract with the label, as well as an opening slot supporting Nine Inch Nails on their upcoming "Self Destruct Tour".[2] After accepting both offers, recording sessions for their debut studio album began in July 1993 with Swans producer Roli Mosimann at Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida. Recording a selection of new songs along with material from their Spooky Kids repertoire, the first version of their debut, titled The Manson Family Album, was completed by the end of September. However, it was not well received.[29] The band's members, along with Reznor, criticized Mosimann's production as being flat, lifeless and poorly representative of the band's live performances.[26] At the same time, Gidget Gein had begun to lose control of his addiction to heroin.[29] Before reworking the album, the band played two shows in Florida under the name Mrs. Scabtree. This band featured Manson on drums, Gacy on keyboard, Berkowitz on guitar, and Jessicka from Jack Off Jill sharing vocal duties with Jeordie White of Miami thrash band Amboog-a-Lard. Four other local musicians, bassists Mark Dubin of Sister Venus and Patrick Joyce from The Itch, guitarist Miles Hie and violinist Mary Karlzen were also involved.[30][31]

Reznor agreed to rework production of The Manson Family Album in October 1993 at Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles. Gein, who had been hospitalized after his fourth heroin overdose, was not invited to participate.[27] After seven weeks of mixing, re-recording and remixing, the album — now titled Portrait of an American Family — was presented to Nothing's parent label Interscope.[26] As first single "Get Your Gunn" was beginning to receive airplay, Gein received a letter declaring his services "no longer needed" by the band, after he overdosed on heroin for a fifth time.[26][29] He was replaced by White, of Amboog-a-Lard, who undertook the alias Twiggy Ramirez.[23] The album was released on July 19, 1994 and peaked at number thirty-five on Billboard's Top Heatseekers album chart.[32] The band began its first national headlining tour in December 1994, with Jack Off Jill opening.[33] During the band's stint as opening act on the Nine Inch Nails tour, Manson met Church of Satan founder Dr. Anton LaVey, who bestowed Manson with the title of "Reverend" — meaning a person who is revered by the church, and not necessarily one who dedicates their life to preaching the religion to others, as with a priest or minister.[26] Manson would use this title in the liner notes of the band's following album, citing himself as "Reverend Marilyn Manson".[34]

In March 1995, the band began a two-month tour, this time with Monster Voodoo Machine as support.[35] This would be drummer Sara Lee Lucas' last tour with the band.[25] Kenneth Wilson, better known by his stage name Ginger Fish, then joined the group before they embarked on a tour with rock bands Danzig and Korn.[26] The band then relocated to the new home of Nothing Studios in New Orleans to begin work on remixes and b-sides for Portrait's third single, "Dope Hat",[26] releasing a music video inspired by the boat ride scene from the 1971 movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.[36] The proposed single eventually developed into an hour-long EP, titled Smells Like Children. The EP's fifteen tracks of covers, remixes, and sonic experiments also included the band's version of the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)",[37] which would prove to be their first legitimate hit.[38] The song's music video was placed in heavy rotation on MTV,[39] in stark contrast with the "Dope Hat" video, which the same channel had banished to late-night airplay only a few months prior.[40] A seven-month headlining tour followed, during which the band began to debut new material.[41]

Antichrist Superstar (1996–97)[edit]

Twiggy, the band's longest serving member, during the "Dead to the World Tour"

The band's second studio album, Antichrist Superstar, was released on October 8, 1996.[42] The rock opera concept album[43] was recorded at Nothing Studios with Reznor, Manson, Sean Beavan and Skinny Puppy member Dave Ogilvie sharing co-production duties; while members of both Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails also took part in production duties.[42] The process of making the album was reputedly a long and difficult one, highlighted by experiments involving sleep deprivation and near-constant drug use, in an effort to create a violent and hostile environment suited to the album's content.[44] During this time, antagonism between band members was high, which caused the departure of guitarist and Spooky Kids founding member Daisy Berkowitz, with Twiggy performing much of the album's guitar work as a result.[44] Timothy Linton responded to an advert seeking Berkowitz' replacement. He would form a close relationship, even sharing a house, with Madonna Wayne Gacy, who was responsible for the inclusion of one of the major sources of inspiration for the album: Kabbalah. Breaking with the six-year tradition of naming band members after female icons and serial killers, the band chose to name Linton Zim Zum, which was derived from the Lurianic Kabbalah concept of Tzimtzum.[45]

"The Beautiful People" was released as the album's lead single, and made a fairly major impact on the alternative rock charts. It created enough anticipation for Antichrist Superstar that the album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200[46] with first-week sales of 132,000 copies.[47] Manson also appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone, who awarded the band their 'Best New Artist' accolade in 1996.[46] The year long "Dead to the World Tour" followed, which was the band's longest and widest-ranging tour yet. In the US, however, the band was receiving more attention than ever before, and not all of it was positive. As the tour was getting underway, the band found itself the target of congressional hearings, led by Senator Joseph Lieberman, to determine the effects, if any, of violent lyrics on young listeners.[48] Lieberman would later go on to refer to Marilyn Manson as "perhaps the sickest group ever promoted by a mainstream record company."[49] In addition, nearly every performance of the tour was picketed by religious organizations.[50]

The band released their second EP, Remix & Repent, on November 25, 1997, which featured new versions of Antichrist Superstar's four singles, "The Beautiful People", "Tourniquet", "Antichrist Superstar" and "Man That You Fear".[51] The same year, three previously unreleased songs were included on the soundtracks to motion pictures, "Long Hard Road Out of Hell" appeared on the soundtrack to Spawn,[52] "Apple of Sodom" on the soundtrack to David Lynch's Lost Highway, while "The Suck for Your Solution" featured on the soundtrack to the Howard Stern biopic Private Parts.[53] In February 1998, Manson released his autobiography, The Long Hard Road out of Hell,[53] as well as a live video entitled Dead to the World. It also came to light around this time that Antichrist Superstar would be the first installment in a concept album trilogy, and that the release of a follow-up was imminent, along with rumors of the involvement of The Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan[54] and The Dust Brothers[55] with the as-yet-untitled album.

Mechanical Animals (1998–99)[edit]

Manson as Mechanical Animals' antagonist, "Omega"

The band released the second part of their triptych, Mechanical Animals, on September 15, 1998.[56] Co-produced by the band's eponymous lead singer with Sean Beavan and Michael Beinhorn,[57] the album moved away from the industrial rock production of its predecessor and was strongly influenced by the glam rock period of the 1970's, particularly David Bowie's 1974 album Diamond Dogs.[58] Corgan served as an unofficial consultant to the band during the early development stages of the album. After playing a few songs for him, Corgan advised them that "This is definitely the right direction" but to "go all the way with it. Don't just hint at it", referring to its inclusion of glam influences.[54] To suit their new musical style, the band also recast itself as a glam rock outfit, setting aside the "rotting-corpse chic" of the previous era[54] in favor of attire more suited to the genre, incorporating leather, platform boots and brightly dyed hair.[54] The band also relocated from New Orleans to Los Angeles,[54] while Zim Zum was replaced by guitarist John Lowery, who dubbed himself John 5.[59] Immediately prior to this, Lowery had been a member of former Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford's 2wo, who were themselves signed to Nothing Records.[60]

Interscope's promotion of the album was massive,[61] with the label erecting enormous billboards of the lead singer as an androgynous extraterrestrial in both Times Square and Sunset Strip.[62] Repeated appearances on MTV and other networks helped propel the album's lead single, "The Dope Show", to number twelve on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart,[56] becoming the band's highest-charting single yet in the process.[63] The song's music video was critically acclaimed, winning two awards at the 1998 Billboard Music Video Awards[64] as well as the Best Cinematography award at the 1999 MTV VMA's;[65] while the song was also nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance at the 41st Annual Grammy Awards.[66] The album would go on to debut at number one on the Billboard 200, with first week sales of over 223,000.[67]

After a brief promotional campaign, the band set out on the "Beautiful Monsters Tour" with Hole.[68] The tour would be a problematic one, however,[69] and was marred by frequent on–and–off stage exchanges between Manson and Hole vocalist Courtney Love.[70] Private disputes also arose over the tour's financial arrangements, with Hole unwittingly financing most of Manson's production costs, which were disproportionately high relative to Hole's.[71] The tour was to include thirty-seven shows spanning over a two-month period,[68] although Hole left after taking part in just nine of the scheduled dates. A broken ankle from Manson also forced the postponement of the next two shows,[70] with the remainder of the tour being renamed "Rock Is Dead" and Jack Off Jill and Nashville Pussy taking over select opening slots.[72]

The final four dates of the tour were canceled out of respect for the victims of the Columbine High School massacre.[73][74] The latter half of 1999 and much of 2000 was a period of relative silence for the band, who refused to take part in interviews and retreated from public life.[75] They shelved plans for a proposed single and music video for their cover of AC/DC's "Highway to Hell", which appeared on the soundtrack to Detroit Rock City.[76] They spent this period writing and recording in a secluded studio in Death Valley,[77][78] with only the live album The Last Tour on Earth appearing during this time.[79] A studio outtake from Antichrist Superstar, titled "Astonishing Panorama of the Endtimes", served as its only single.[80]

Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) (2000–02)[edit]

Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) was released on November 14, 2000.[81] Produced by the band's lead singer with Dave Sardy, the album also features programming and pre-production editing by Bon Harris of Nitzer Ebb.[82] The band wrote over 100 songs for the album,[82] which was a return to the darker, more abrasive sound of Antichrist Superstar. Much of its content was written in response to the Columbine massacre,[83] with the album's third single, "The Nobodies", directly referencing the shootings.[84] Described by the band's frontman as the third part of a trilogy which began with Antichrist Superstar and continued in Mechanical Animals,[85] its overarching theme is an exploration of the relationship between death and fame in American culture, and its lyrics and artwork contain many references to John F. Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald, John Lennon and Mark David Chapman, and Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth.[86] The "Guns, God and Government Tour" elaborated on Holy Wood's central theme, and with its logo – a rifle and handguns arranged to resemble the Christian cross — Manson made no attempt to conceal what he saw as the source of that fascination.[87]

The band also revealed that within their concept album trilogy,[88] Holy Wood serves as prequel to Mechanical Animals and Antichrist Superstar despite the latter two preceding Holy Wood in release date.[89] Each album contains its own distinct storyline, which can be linked together to create a larger overarching storyline encompassing all three.[89] Manson has offered this much in the way of an interpretation: "[Holy Wood is about] wanting to fit into a world that didn't want me, and fighting really hard to get there. [The album's deepest elements] are idealism and the desire to start a revolution. If you begin with Holy Wood, then Mechanical Animals really talks about how that revolution gets taken away from you and turned into a product, and then Antichrist Superstar is where you're given a choice to decide if you're going to be controlled by the power that you created or if you want to destroy yourself and then start over. It just becomes a cycle."[88]

As part of the album's promotional campaign, the band joined the 2001 line-up of Ozzy Osbourne's Ozzfest, although they initially refused to take part in its June 21 date in Denver–their first appearance in Colorado since the Columbine massacre.[90] After protests from several religious groups, however, the band announced on their website that they would perform in Denver, and planned to "balance out" their "violent lyrics" by quoting Bible text, "so we can examine the virtues of wonderful Christian stories of disease, murder, adultery, suicide and child sacrifice."[91][92] During the concert, Manson read passages such as Leviticus 20:9 ("For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall surely be put to death") and Psalm 137:9 ("Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones").[93] The tour was documented by a DVD of the same name, which was released on October 29, 2002. In addition to a compilation style concert [songs from multiple individual shows edited together to appear as a single performance], it includes a thirty-minute short film titled "The Death Parade".[94] This was followed by Guns, God and Government – Live in LA seven years later. Released on Blu-ray on November 17, 2009, it depicts their January 13, 2001 performance at Los Angeles' Grand Olympic Auditorium in its entirety.[95]

Earlier in 2001, the band released a cover of Gloria Jones' "Tainted Love" on the soundtrack to Not Another Teen Movie.[96] The song became the band's biggest international hit yet, peaking at number one in numerous European territories.[97] In 2002, Jonathan Davis of Korn invited Marilyn Manson to record vocals on a track titled "Redeemer", which was released on his soundtrack to Queen of the Damned.[98] Manson also appeared in Michael Moore's 2002 documentary, Bowling for Columbine; his appearance was filmed on the same day as their Denver Ozzfest performance. When Moore asked what Manson would have said to the students at Columbine, he replied, "I wouldn't say a single word to them. I would listen to what they have to say, and that's what no one did."[99]

The Golden Age of Grotesque and Lest We Forget (2003–05)[edit]

With the "triptych" of previous albums complete, the band was free to begin a fresh project. In 2002, Manson created an original score for the Resident Evil film with former KMFDM multi-instrumentalist Tim Sköld.[100] Soon after, Sköld became an official band member when Twiggy Ramirez amicably left the group, citing creative differences.[101] After finding inspiration through Manson's girlfriend Dita Von Teese in the swing and burlesque movements of 1920s Berlin,[102] the band recorded The Golden Age of Grotesque, which was released on May 13, 2003 and debuted atop the Billboard 200 album chart, selling over 118,000 copies on its first week.[47] It was also an international success, debuting at number one in Austria, Canada, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Billboard's European Albums Chart.[103] The album appeared on several critics' year-end lists,[2] and won a 2003 Metal Edge Readers' Choice Award for "Album of the Year".[104]

Performing at Ozzfest (2003)

Eschewing the lyrical depth and symbolism found on Holy Wood, the album was relatively straightforward: in an extended metaphor, Manson compares his own often-criticized work to the Entartete Kunst banned by the Nazi regime.[105] Lyrically, Manson utilizes the narrative mode of stream of consciousness throughout the album to examine the human psyche in times of crisis, specifically focusing on the mindset of lunatics and children, as, according to Manson, "they don't follow the rules [of society]."[106] Several songs incorporate elements commonly found in playground chants and nursery rhymes, which Manson would "pervert into something ugly and lurid."[106] The work of Kurt Weill was also noted as an influence, along with the lucid dreams the singer was having during its production, with Manson explaining that he would "wake up and say, 'I want to write a song that sounds like a stampeding elephant,' or 'I want to write a song that sounds like a burning piano.'"[106][107]

Manson began his long-term collaboration with Austrian-Irish artist Gottfried Helnwein, working together on several multi-media projects associated with the album, including the exhibitions and installation art projects featured at the album's launch party at The Key Club in Los Angeles, the album artwork, the music video to lead single "mOBSCENE", as well as the artwork which accompanied Manson's essay for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.[108][109] Limited edition copies of the album included a DVD titled Doppelherz (Double-heart), a 25-minute surrealist short film directed by Manson which featured art direction by Helnwein.[110] Another world tour followed, "Grotesk Burlesk", which furthered the album's Weimar Republic-inspired theme by adding Helnwein-created stage dressing and elements of German Kabarett to the group's performances.[109] Manson and the band members began appearing both on-and off-stage in designer suits created by Jean Paul Gaultier.[111]

Lest We Forget: The Best Of was released on September 28, 2004 and was referred to by Manson as a "farewell" compilation.[112] It was the last album released under Nothing Records, as the label was dissolved following a lawsuit filed by Reznor against his former manager and business partner, John Malm.[113] The compilation was supported by the "Against All Gods Tour",[114] as well as a single–a cover of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus".[115] It was the first and only tour to feature Mark Chaussee of Rob Halford's Fight on lead guitar,[116] replacing John 5, whose relationship with Manson had soured over the previous year.[117] During the band's performance of "The Beautiful People" at the 2003 Rock am Ring festival, Manson kicked and then shoved the guitarist. John 5 responded in anger, throwing his guitar to the ground and raising his fists to Manson, before resuming the song.[118] Former Nine Inch Nails drummer Chris Vrenna also replaced Ginger Fish, who fractured his wrist, skull and cheekbone after falling several feet off his drum riser during a performance at a German awards ceremony.[119][120]

Eat Me, Drink Me (2006–08)[edit]

Sköld and Manson during the "Rape of the World Tour"

By late 2005, the band had composed eighteen new songs, but work on their sixth studio album was halted when Manson focused his attention toward various film and art projects, including the development of his screenplay, Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll, as well as a minor role in the Lucy Liu movie Rise: Blood Hunter.[121] He also launched a self-proclaimed art movement, the Celebritarian Corporation, which included artist Gottfried Helnwein, fashion designer Steven Klein and director Anthony Silva,[122] as well as announcing plans to open an art gallery and publish a book of his paintings.[123] It was after opening the Celebritarian Corporation Gallery Of Fine Art on Melrose Avenue in 2006 that work started on new material, with Manson writing lyrics over Sköld's already existing compositions.[124]

The resulting material was composed and recorded entirely by Sköld, and does not feature writing or performance contributions from any other member of the band.[125] Its content is largely inspired by personal troubles relating to Manson's failed marriage to Von Teese, and his burgeoning relationship with then-19-year old actress Evan Rachel Wood.[124] The band made their debut appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on October 31, 2006, performing their cover of "This Is Halloween" from a deluxe edition re-release of The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack.[126] This would be their last performance featuring longtime keyboardist Madonna Wayne (Pogo) Gacy,[127][128] who would go on to file a $20m lawsuit against the band the following year for unpaid "partnership proceeds".[129]

The album was preceded by the release of a single, "Heart-Shaped Glasses (When the Heart Guides the Hand)", whose music video was shot using director James Cameron's 3D Fusion Camera System technology.[130] The video caused controversy upon release, with several sources claiming that it featured genuine footage of Manson and Wood engaged in sexual intercourse.[130][131][132][133] Wood was reportedly paid "the highest [music] video salary in history" to appear in the video.[134] Eat Me, Drink Me was released on June 5, 2007,[135] and entered the Billboard 200 at number eight with first week sales of 88,000 copies.[136] It also peaked in the top ten of most major international album charts, as well as at number two on Billboard's European Albums Chart.[137] "Putting Holes In Happiness" was released as the album's second single,[138] with a remix of the track by Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner appearing on Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.[139]

To promote the album, the band embarked on the nine-month "Rape of the World Tour", which featured Sköld on lead guitar,[140] former The Prodigy bassist Rob Holliday[141] and longtime drummer Ginger Fish; while Vrenna rejoined the band as their live keyboardist.[142] The first leg of the tour was a co-headlining set with American thrash metal band Slayer, with support coming from Bleeding Through.[143][144] In November 2007, Manson confirmed that he and Sköld had begun work on the band's next studio album, with Slayer's Kerry King, former The Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha and Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs set to feature.[145] By the beginning of 2008, however, Twiggy Ramirez had rejoined the band as bassist, resulting in the exit of Sköld, with Holliday moving from bass to lead guitar for the remaining duration of the tour.[146] Future collaborations with Sköld were not ruled out.[147]

The High End of Low (2008–09)[edit]

In March 2008, Twiggy stated through his Myspace blog that the band had began work on their seventh studio album.[148] Four months later, former Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland joined the band for their headlining show at the 2008 ETP Fest in South Korea.[149] However, Borland left the group to reunite with Limp Bizkit after just one other performance.[150] He later said that he was reluctant to be a "hired gun", citing the band's refusal to record any of the nine songs he submitted for their upcoming album.[151] R&B singer Ne-Yo claimed in early December that he would hold writing sessions with the band's frontman on new material,[152] although Manson released a statement on Christmas Eve denying this,[153] saying that he had "never even met Ne-Yo. I can assure him that he would not want to be associated with something this godless."[154]

The High End of Low was recorded throughout 2008, with Manson recording vocals at his Hollywood Hills home studio[155] between November and January 5, 2009.[156] Produced by Manson, Twiggy and Vrenna with Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals co-producer Sean Beavan,[157][158] Manson described the album as containing "extreme" autobiographical content relating to the dissolution of his engagement to Wood,[155][156] and as being "very ruthless, heavy and violent".[159] Its fifteen songs appear on the album in the order they were written.[156] The penultimate track, "Into the Fire", portrays the vocalist's mental state on Christmas Day, wherein he attempted to contact Wood 158 times, cutting himself with a razorblade on the face or hands for each corresponding attempt.[160] The album's final song, "15", was completed on Manson's January 5 birthday—hence the name.[156] Manson utilized his entire home as a canvas to document the disintegration of the relationship, writing its lyrics on walls and coupling them with paintings and drawings relating to Wood, as well as used condoms, bags of cocaine and other drug paraphernalia.[157]

Album version, as it appeared on The High End of Low. A heavily-censored version of the track performed poorly at US radio.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"We're from America" was released as a free download on the band's website on March 27, 2009,[161] while a Hot Topic-exclusive CD single followed two weeks later.[162] After playing an instrumental version of "Arma-Goddamn-Motherfuckin-Geddon" to Interscope's A&R department, it was chosen as the album's official lead single, with an employee telling Manson, "This is gonna be a hit!". Manson then quipped to the employee, "Well, I'm glad that you have no consideration for what I [might] put on top of it."[163] A heavily censored version of the profanity-laced track – re-titled to "Arma... geddon"[164] – was serviced to radio from April 13,[161] and peaked at number thirty-seven on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart, becoming their lowest-peaking single in the process.[63] The album was released on May 26, 2009 and debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 with sales of over 49,000 copies, their lowest opening week figure since The Last Tour on Earth debuted with 26,000 copies in 1999.[165] It was supported by "The High End of Low Tour". Rob Holliday did not rejoin the band, with former Wired All Wrong member Andy Gerold performing bass and Twiggy taking over on lead guitar.[166][167]

Prior to The High End of Low's release, Manson made a series of disparaging comments regarding Interscope and its artistic censorship; as well as its then-CEO Jimmy Iovine, who Manson said "wasn't smart enough to understand what [we] do",[168] and publicly claiming that the label "cares more about Vitamin Water [the private equity venture of Interscope-signed 50 Cent[169]] than music."[170] Reznor – who, as of 2015, remains friends with Iovine[171] – responded by calling Manson a "dopey clown" and claiming that "He is a malicious guy and will step on anybody's [sic] face to succeed and cross any line of decency."[172] While promoting the album in the UK, Manson appeared inebriated in a series of interviews.[173][174][175] An interview for Alan Carr: Chatty Man recorded during this time remains unaired,[176] due to graphic language and content.[177] A music video for "Running to the Edge of the World" – in which Manson beats a Wood lookalike to death – was released on November 4 and was condemned as a perceived glorification of violence against women.[178][179] The band parted ways with Interscope on December 3.[180] Eight days later,[181] they settled the lawsuit filed by former keyboardist Stephen Bier (aka M.W. Gacy), with Manson's insurance company paying Bier's attorney's fees and Bier receiving no monetary value.[182][183][184]

Born Villain (2009–12)[edit]

Upon parting with Interscope, Manson said "a lot of the creative control on which my hands were tied [has been regained]", while stating that the band had been writing new material while touring their previous album.[185] At the beginning of 2010, Vrenna said that they were "talking and coming up with concepts" for their upcoming studio album.[186] Manson attested that its lyrical content would be "more romantic" yet "self-abusive",[185] and described its sonic elements as being "suicide death metal".[187] That April, Manson expressed interest in releasing the record in a different way from previous ones.[188] Fred Sablan – bassist for Twiggy and Masters of Reality vocalist Chris Goss' project Goon Moon[189] – joined the band in July.[190] By October, Twiggy described the album as being "almost done", and opined that "It's our best record yet. I mean, everyone always says that, but I think this is our best work so far. It's kind of like a little more of a punk rock Mechanical Animals, without sounding too pretentious."[191] The following month, it was announced that the band had signed a joint-venture deal with London-based indie label Cooking Vinyl.[191] As part of the deal, the band would retain creative control over their artistic direction,[192] with the band and label sharing profits equally after the label recoups costs associated with marketing, promotion and distribution.[193]

The band logo for Born Villain.

For much of 2011, Manson removed himself from the public spotlight and ceased almost all communication with fans,[194] only taking a break from his self-imposed sequestration to appear in the music video for "Tempat Ku" by Brunei rock band D'Hask.[195] On February 24, longtime drummer Ginger Fish announced his resignation from the group.[196] On May 22, their website underwent a complete overhaul. A 26-second clip of an unreleased song, tentatively titled "I am among no one", was uploaded to their Vimeo account, along with a new logo.[197] The logo consisted of the letter M repeated four times in a spiral pattern, each with one long tail. At the end of two of the tails was the Taoist symbol ☲, which is the inner trigram of hexagram 30 from the I Ching, named 離 (pronounced: lí). This hexagram, symbolizing "radiance", is also known as "the clinging, fire" and "the net".[198] The CMYK coloring was also notable with regard to an acrostic which appeared in a journal entry accompanying the site changes, spelling out the words "Christianity Manufactures Yesterdays Killers".[197]

After being impressed by his directorial work on one of Kid Cudi's music videos,[199] Manson employed actor Shia LaBeouf to direct a short film entitled Born Villain.[200] Contrary to media reports that the project would be a "making-of" video documenting the album's recording,[201][202] Born Villain was a surrealist short[203] featuring a previously unreleased track, "Overneath the Path of Misery". Containing numerous references to Macbeth,[204] it was inspired by Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain[199] and Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí's 1929 silent film Un Chien Andalou.[204] To promote the project, LaBeouf and his girlfriend, photographer Karolyn Pho, graffitied areas of LA with its artwork. LaBeouf and Pho later photographed their work, and released it as a limited edition book titled Campaign, which was bundled with a DVD of the film.[204][205] In November, Vrenna departed the band to focus on other production work, while indicating that production of the band's eight studio album was "largely completed".[206]

The album was preceded by the release of "No Reflection", which Manson leaked to KROQ-FM on March 7, 2012.[207] Cooking Vinyl CEO Martin Goldschmidt called the leak a "masterstroke", saying "we had all these exclusives lined up around the world, and then Manson blew them all. We're already getting more radio play than the whole of the last record."[208] The song went on to peak at number twenty-six on the Mainstream Rock chart, spending fourteen weeks on the chart, and was their best-performing single there since "Personal Jesus" in 2004.[63] Born Villain was released worldwide from April 30,[207] debuting at number ten on the Billboard 200 and atop both the Independent Albums and Top Hard Rock Albums charts.[209] Internationally, it peaked within the top ten of numerous territories,[210] and spent two weeks at number one on the UK Rock Albums Chart.[211] A remix EP for "Slo-Mo-Tion" followed on November 5.[212] The band embarked on the seventeen-month "Hey Cruel World... Tour" from the end of April,[213] which was interspersed by co-headlining tours with Rob Zombie ("Twins of Evil") and Alice Cooper ("Masters of Madness").[214][215]

The Pale Emperor (2012–15)[edit]

In August 2012, Manson announced he would appear in the sixth season of David Duchovny's television series Californication.[216] While filming the season finale at the Greek Theatre in LA,[217] Manson met the series' score composer, Tyler Bates, who mentioned the idea of collaborating.[218] In May 2013, Manson confirmed that production had started on new material.[219] Gil Sharone, drummer for The Dillinger Escape Plan and Stolen Babies, stated in February 2014 that he had performed on the band's upcoming record.[220] Four months later, Sablan announced that he had left the group,[221] and was replaced on bass by Twiggy, with Bates and his friend, Paul Wiley, taking over as live guitarists[222] on their 2014 summer tour.[223] Their scheduled appearance at the Park Live Festival in Moscow on June 27 was canceled moments before they were due to arrive on stage,[224] after authorities received numerous bomb threats, while hundreds of activists affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church protested outside the venue.[225] The incident culminated in the assault of several members of the band and crew near their hotel.[226] Two days later, a performance in Novosibirsk was also canceled when authorities refused to grant permission for the show to go ahead, accusing Manson of insulting the beliefs of the Orthodox church and of "promoting sadomasochism".[227][228]

"Cupid Carries a Gun" was the first song previewed from the upcoming album,[220] when it was used as the opening theme to Salem from its second episode onwards, which premiered on US television on April 27.[229] A large portion of "Killing Strangers" was predominantly featured[230] in the Keanu Reeves movie John Wick.[231][232] The album's first official single, "Third Day of a Seven Day Binge", was premiered on BBC Radio 1's Rock Show by Daniel P. Carter on October 26,[233][234] and was released for free download on the band's website immediately after the broadcast.[235] Manson garnered significant media attention when a video depicting the simulated rape of Lana Del Rey was posted onto YouTube by production company Sturmgruppe.[236] The video, titled "Sturmgruppe 2013 Reel", showed simulated footage of film director Eli Roth attacking Del Rey, which was interspersed by unrelated images from two of the band's previous music videos — "No Reflection" and "Slo-Mo-Tion".[237][238][239] Manson's representatives released a statement to Billboard denying any involvement in the production of the rape scenes.[240]

"Deep Six" was released on December 16,[241] with a music video following three days later.[242] The song peaked at number eight on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart,[243] making it the band's highest-ever peaking single there.[63] The album was preceded by a third single, "Cupid Carries a Gun", on January 8, 2015.[244][245] The Pale Emperor was released on January 20 in the US.[246] It is dedicated to Manson's mother, who died in May 2014 after an eight-year battle with Alzheimer's disease and dementia.[247][248] The album was both a critical and commercial success, debuting at number eight on the Billboard 200 with sales of over 51,000 copies,[249] their largest opening-week figure since Eat Me, Drink Me in 2007.[136][250] Numerous publications referred to it as the band's best album in over a decade,[246][247][251][252] and would later appear on several 'best of 2015' lists.[253][254][255][256][257][258][259][260] It was also dubbed the "best metal album" of 2015 by Rolling Stone.[261] A music video for "The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles" was released on May 11.[262] The album was supported by The Hell Not Hallelujah Tour, which was interspersed by a co-headlining tour with The Smashing Pumpkins titled The End Times.[263][264]

Say10 and recent activity (2015–present)[edit]

While touring with The Smashing Pumpkins in 2015, Manson indicated a "strong possibility" of working with Corgan on new material, and also revealed plans to collaborate with Korn frontman Jonathan Davis on a "Southern-sounding, acoustic" project.[265] On November 2, Manson announced in an interview with KEGL that work had begun on the band's tenth studio album, while also confirming that Twiggy, Bates and Sharone would all be involved in its recording.[266] In February 2016, Manson appeared on a tribute album to Giorgio Moroder curated by Shooter Jennings, titled Countach (For Giorgio), contributing vocals to a version of David Bowie's "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)".[267][268][269] That same month, details were also announced of another co-headlining tour, this time with heavy metal band Slipknot.[270] The tour was scheduled to begin on June 9 in Salt Lake City and consist of thirty-four dates in Amphitheatres throughout North America, with support from Of Mice & Men.[271] However, the first twelve dates of the tour were postponed after a physical examination revealed that Corey Taylor had broken two vertebrae in his neck. The tour began on June 28 in Nashville, Tennessee, with the postponed shows rescheduled for August.[272]

Antichrist Superstar was reissued on cassette exclusively in Europe as part of Record Store Day.[273][274] It is currently unknown if the album – which celebrates the twentieth anniversary of its release this October – will be reissued in an expanded format later this year.[42] The band have also been confirmed to take part in Slipknot's Knotfest 2016 in Japan.[275] On July 19, Manson announced that the band's tenth studio album would be released on Valentine's Day in 2017, and would be titled Say10.[276]


In December 1996, Senator Joseph Lieberman, along with former Secretary of Education William Bennett and Secretary of Pennsylvania State C. DeLores Tucker, held a press conference wherein they questioned MCA – the owner of Interscope – president Edgar Bronfman Jr.'s ability to head the label competently whilst profiting from "profanity-laced" albums by artists such as Tupac Shakur, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Marilyn Manson.[277] The following November, Representative Sam Brownback chaired a hearing of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs titled "Music Violence: How Does It Affect Our Children". At this subcommittee, Lieberman once again criticized the band's music, calling it "vile, hateful, nihilistic and damaging", and repeated his request that Seagram – then-owner of MCA – "start [...] disassociating itself from Marilyn Manson." The subcommittee also heard from Raymond Kuntz, of Burlington, North Dakota, who blamed his son Richard's suicide on Antichrist Superstar–specifically the song "The Reflecting God".[278]

The band's live performances have also come under fire – the "Dead to the World Tour", in particular, was followed by protesters at nearly every North American venue it visited.[50] Utah passed legislation allowing state-operated venues to ban the group from performing, forcing the cancelation of their January 11, 1997 performance at Utah State Fairpark. This legislation was repealed six months later, when a group of nine fans successfully sued the state.[279] Similarly, an April 10 concert at the state-owned Carolina Coliseum in Columbia, South Carolina was canceled after the South Carolina House of Representatives voted to ban Marilyn Manson from ever performing on state-owned property. This resulted in South Carolina being forced to pay the band's promoters $40,000 for loss of income.[280] The city council of Richmond, Virginia ordered the cancelation of their May 10 concert at Richmond Coliseum.[280] The American Civil Liberties Union sued the city on the band's behalf.[281]

A July 22 concert at La Luna in Portland, Oregon was canceled following the venue's inability to obtain insurance for the event.[282] Their concert at Calgary's Max Bell Arena three days later was also canceled, with the owner of the venue – Larry Ryckman – citing the band's reputation. He would later be successfully sued by the band's promoters for $66,000 in damages.[283] The New Jersey date of Ozzfest at Giants Stadium was canceled by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, who cited Marilyn Manson's performance as its reason.[284] The event was only held after Ozzy Osbourne successfully sued the state, which compelled authorities to allow the concert.[281] During this time, schools in Florida threatened to expel students who attended the band's concerts.[49]

School shootings[edit]

Columbine massacre[edit]

"I couldn't care less about those kids' reasoning. What reason do we have to go to war? It's all the same. Killing somebody can't be justified by having a reason. I think it says a lot about the [news] media that those two kids were on the cover of Time magazine twice because I'm sure that's everything they wanted. They wanted fame. America sold them the idea that an obituary is just another headline."

—Marilyn Manson on the Columbine massacre.[285]

On April 20, 1999, Columbine High School students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed twelve students and a teacher, and wounded twenty-one others before committing suicide. It remains the deadliest high school shooting in US history.[286] In the days following the massacre, media reports surfaced alleging that they were influenced by violence in entertainment, specifically movies, video games and music.[287] The pair were widely reported as being fans of German bands KMFDM and Rammstein, but the majority of blame was directed at Marilyn Manson.[84][288]

Five days after the incident, William Bennett and Joseph Lieberman cited the band as a contributing factor to the massacre during an appearance on Meet the Press.[289] Soon after, sensationalist headlines such as "Killers Worshipped Rock Freak Manson" and "Devil-Worshipping Maniac Told Kids To Kill" began appearing in mainstream media.[77][290] The Mayor of Denver, Wellington Webb, successfully petitioned promoters to cancel KBPI-FM's annual 'Birthday Bash', at which the band was scheduled to appear.[291] Coloradoan politicians such as Governor Bill Owens and Republican Representative Tom Tancredo accused Manson of promoting "hate, violence, death, suicide, drug use and the attitudes and actions of the Columbine High School killers,"[91] despite later reports that neither Harris or Klebold were fans.[292][293] The band canceled the remaining four dates of the Rock Is Dead Tour out of respect for the victims, while steadfastly maintaining that music, movies, books or video games were not to blame.[73][74]

Eleven days after the massacre, Manson wrote an op-ed piece for Rolling Stone, titled "Columbine: Whose Fault Is It?", where he rebuked the ensuing hysteria and "witch hunt", and castigated America's gun culture, the power of the National Rifle Association, and the media's culpability in placing blame on a scapegoat, through their irresponsible coverage, to avoid examining genuine societal issues.[294][295]

Other shootings[edit]

The controversy connecting the band and school shootings continued on October 10, 2007, when 14-year-old SuccessTech Academy student Asa Coon shot four people before committing suicide.[296] After being punched in the face by another student whilst exiting a bathroom, he shot his attacker – Michael Peek – in the abdomen.[297] Armed with two Revolvers, he then proceeded down a hallway, where he wounded another student and two teachers by firing in to two occupied classrooms, before entering a nearby bathroom and committing suicide.[298] Coon was wearing a black Marilyn Manson T-shirt during the incident.[299][300]

On May 18, 2009, 15-year-old Justin Doucet, a student at Larose Middle School in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, entered the school armed with a .25-caliber Automatic Colt Pistol.[301] When seventh-grade teacher Jessica Plaisance refused to comply with Doucet's demand to say "Hail Marilyn Manson", he fired two shots, narrowly missing her head, before turning the gun on himself.[302][303] He died from his injuries a week later.[304]

Musical style[edit]

The Marilyn Manson band has produced music in many genres throughout its career. The first stage shows and cassettes were gothic rock.[2] After getting signed to Nothing, their first album, Portrait of an American Family, was industrial metal. Their first hit single, the cover of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)", was hard rock.[305] 1996's Antichrist Superstar was balanced between industrial rock, progressive metal, gothic rock and shock metal.[306] In 1998 for Mechanical Animals, the band shifted gears to create a rock opera in the style of glam rock. This was reversed in 2000 with Holy Wood's return to industrial metal and heavy goth rock.[305] 2003's The Golden Age of Grotesque added an electronic aspect to the industrial metal, but 2007's Eat Me, Drink Me showed a relatively cleaner arena rock production style.[307][308] 2009's The High End of Low[309] and 2012's Born Villain were both industrial metal. 2015's The Pale Emperor introduced a blues rock aspect to the hard rock and industrial metal.[310]


Initially, after being introduced to Big Black's album Songs About Fucking by a fellow Miami clubgoer, who would become his keyboard player, Madonna Wayne Gacy, Manson had the desire to form a rock band that used a drum machine — an uncommon technique outside of dance music at the time.[6] The earliest incarnations of Marilyn Manson used this setup, and produced experimental, drum-heavy compositions similar to Steve Albini's work with Big Black; later, with the addition of a live drummer, the band's composing process, recording techniques, and live performances were by necessity altered. Guitarist Daisy Berkowitz and bassist Gidget Gein, who came from punk rock backgrounds, brought the musicianship and songwriting style of the Jim Carroll Band (whose "People Who Died" was an early favorite cover for Marilyn Manson) and the showmanship of The New York Dolls to the mixture. After the band spent some time at Nothing, their sound gathered sonic elements from other bands on that label's roster, like Nine Inch Nails and Prick.

Evidently, Manson himself is heavily influenced by the shock rock stylings of such artists as Arthur Brown, Alice Cooper, The Doors, Black Sabbath, Kiss and some of Iggy Pop as a young music fan;[6] however, later influences have come from the glam rock of David Bowie (who Manson claims is his biggest influence), whose chameleon-like ability to shift from one style to another, replete with a new look and musical philosophy, was a characteristic which would also be frequently ascribed to Marilyn Manson by the music press.[311] Such an influence is exemplified in the similarities between the music videos of Bowie's "The Hearts Filthy Lesson" and many of Manson's videos, such as "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" (Floria Sigismondi has directed music videos for both Bowie ("Little Wonder") and Manson ("The Beautiful People" and "Tourniquet").) He also became later fond of The Cure and Bauhaus around the Eat Me, Drink Me period. The hard rock background of John 5 amplified this aspect of the band's sound in live performances; Tim Skold, a former guitarist, bassist, and vocalist in Shotgun Messiah, later blended in that band's mixture of industrial drums and guitars. Influence on the electronic sound of the band has likely came from bands and artists such as Depeche Mode and Gary Numan, the latter of which switched from a synthpop style to more a darker more industrial rock sound which Manson's band performs within. Both Manson and musical associate Trent Reznor who play in this industrial style are likely influenced by Numan as Manson has been quoted with saying "I was always into his apocalyptic fiction lyrics. He pioneered electronic dance music." Whilst Reznor has said "After hearing 'Cars' I knew I wanted to make music with synthesizers. The Pleasure Principle and Telekon are fucking great because they're so cold sounding. Numan's early albums painted an emotional place that wasn't pleasant to be at. It seemed like creepy science fiction in an unpleasant way." Manson's first official recorded cover was "Down in the Park" and Reznor has performed with Numan himself.

Both Manson and Twiggy Ramirez have mentioned the influence of Queen on their more melodic work, particularly on Mechanical Animals and Eat Me, Drink Me, in the latter of which Twiggy did not participate. Manson has also cited Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, N.W.A, The Smashing Pumpkins and Justin Timberlake as influences.[312]

Band members[edit]

Many members have contributed performances (either live or in-studio) on instruments other than their primary ones. For instance, Ramirez has played guitar on several records while his live instrument is bass, Gacy ("Pogo") has played keyboards, theremin and calliope, Manson has played pan flute, harpsichord, keyboards, and guitar, and Berkowitz has been credited with bass guitar and drum machines. Vrenna filled in on drums for Fish when he was injured, and later replaced Gacy on keyboards.


Studio albums

Soundtracks and tributes[edit]


Billboard Music Video Awards[edit]

Year Nominee/Work Award Result
1998 "The Dope Show"[313] Best Clip (Hard Rock/Metal) Won
Maximum Vision Award Won

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Nominee/Work Award Result
1999 "The Dope Show" Best Hard Rock Performance Nominated
2001 "Astonishing Panorama of the Endtimes" Best Metal Performance Nominated
2004 "mOBSCENE" Best Metal Performance Nominated
2013 "No Reflection" Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Nominated

MTV Video Music Awards[edit]

Year Nominee/Work Award Result
1996 "Sweet Dreams" Best Hard Rock Video Nominated
1997 "The Beautiful People" Best Hard Rock Video Nominated
Best Special Effects in a Video Nominated
Best Art Direction in a Video Nominated
1999 "The Dope Show" Best Cinematography in a Video Won

Miscellaneous awards and honors[edit]

Year Nominated work Award/honor Nominator
1992 Marilyn Manson Best Heavy Metal Band New Times Magazine
1992 Marilyn Manson Best Hard Alternative Band South Florida Slammies
Band of the Year South Florida Slammies
1996 Marilyn Manson Band of the Year South Florida Slammies
1997 Marilyn Manson Best New Artist Rolling Stone
1999 "The Dope Show" Best Video of the Year Rolling Stone
2005 Marilyn Manson Icon Award Kerrang
2012 Born Villain Rock Album of the Year Loudwire
2012 "No Reflection" Rock Video of the Year Loudwire
2015[314] Marilyn Manson Lifetime Achievement Award Kerrang



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