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Marilyn Manson


Marilyn Manson (1989-present): a Gothic band from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.


he group and character known as Marilyn Manson started with Brian Warner, for a while crippled by pneumonia in his youth and by this time an ordained minister in the Church Of Satan (run by Anton LeVey). He started his controversial career as a music journalist. He would form Marilyn Manson & The Spooky Kids in 1989, taking his inspiration from the likes of Alice Cooper, Kiss, Nine Inch Nails and UK Goth throwbacks Alien Sex Fiend. After interviewing Trent Reznor, he secured a slot with Reznor's Nine Inch Nails which culminated in a record deal with Trent Reznor and John A.Malm Jr.'s 'Nothing' record label. It was here that he formed his Pop-Goth appearance.

He received notoriety for his dating of porn-star Tracii Lords; he also caused uproar in his hometown when he allegedly mouthed Robin Finck's (Nine Inch Nails) "pink oboe". His goal from the outset was to challenge censorship and to be controversial. His onstage persona usually consisted of contact lenses changing his eyes to one of any unnatural colors, surgical corsets & stockings, black leather and/or PVC as well as ghoulish white body paint. Like Alice Cooper before him, his attempts to shock worked; they worked so well that he far out-shined the rest of his band. The other members of the band, for the record,were Marilyn Manson (vocals/loops), Gidget Gein (Real Name: Brad Stewart; bass), Daisy Berkowitz (Real Name: Scott Mitchell Putesky; guitar), Madonna Wayne Gacy (Real Name: Steve Bier; Hammond organ/samples) and Sara Lee Lucas (Real Name: Freddy Streithorst; drums). Always as subtle as a jackhammer, the band member's stage names were taken from American cultural icons (both great and evil). "Marilyn Manson", for example, came from the combination of actress Marilyn Monroe and serial killer Charles Manson.

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The punk freak circus began in 1994 with their debut Portrait of An American Family. Ginger Fish (Real Name: Kenny Wilson) took over drum duties and Twiggy Ramirez (Real Name: Jeordie Francis White) took over bass for the second outing, a collection of remixes called Smells Like Children (1996), which included renditions of Sweet Dreams, originally done by the Eurythmics of 1980s fame, I Put A Spell On You (Screamin' Jay Hawkings) and Rock 'n' Roll Nigger (Patti Smith). They also won a Slammy for Dope Hat for the year previous. By 1995 the album popped up on the US charts at 31, their best yet. At this time they also toured with the likes of the Genitorturers, Meat Beat Manifesto, Suicidal Tendencies and Murphy's Law. Later that same year Antichrist Superstar would be released almost as an answer to the American special interest "Moral Majority" (or Moral Minority depending on your point of view) and land them a billboard 3 rating.

England was conquered in 1997 when they wowed audiences at secret gigs though out that country. Zim Zum (Real Name: Mike Nastasi) replaced Daisy for the UK top 20 single Beautiful People, which was the climax of their career. Other no less impressive EPs and singles followed culminating in the 1998 Mechanical Animals, Last Tour On Earth (live) (1999), the one-sided 10" The Dope Show (1998) and Holy Wood (2000). The aforementioned Mechanical Animals witnessed Johnny 5 (Real Name: John Lowery) taking over guitars from the sacked Zim Zum. Their career thus far would be followed-up with The Golden Age Of Grotesue (2003), and Eat Me Drink Me (2007). The High End of Low Tour followed in 2009.

April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Columbine, USA an unincorporated area of Jefferson County in the American state of Colorado a mass shooting occurred whereby two individuals gained entry to the school and armed with not just loaded guns but a fire bomb to divert firefighters, propane tanks converted to bombs placed in the cafeteria, 99 explosive devices, and carbombs killed and wounded as many people as they could and without reason. Marilyn Manson's name was smeared over the media as they reported the individuals in question wore Manson styled face paints, a band T-shirt and even donned gothic styled trench coats and boots... the only truth in those reports was that the individuals were shooting people the rest was pure ficton and it ruined Marilyn Manson's career for a time when he received death threats and concert cancellations after the incident. The American media has a terrible and bad habit of speaking first before they verify their facts so Brian Warner trademarked the name Marilyn Manson and threatened to sue anyone who used it... the media quickly changed it's tune and his career was restored.

For much of the early half of 2011, Marilyn Manson removed himself from the public spotlight and ceased almost all communication with his fans or the outside world. On February 24, 2011, the band's longtime drummer Ginger Fish announced his resignation from the group, prompting a search for a replacement. Meanwhile, on March 18, 2011, Marilyn Manson took a short break from his self-imposed sequestration by appearing in the music video for the song Tempat Ku by Brunei pop outfit D'Hask. On March 23, 2011, he uploaded new pictures onto the band's Facebook page, in a different style of previous photos. The new style suggested the 'new era' of Marilyn Manson had begun, further generating anticipation for the upcoming release.

On November 22, 2011, it was announced that Chris Vrenna had officially left the band after contributing to the writing and production of Born Villain an album that would be released on May 1, 2012. It debuted at 10 on the Billboard 200, No. 3 on Top 100 rock albums, and 1 on both Top Independent Albums and hard rock Albums.

In 2014 the band's scheduled performance at the Park Live Festival in Moscow on June 27 was cancelled by the event's organizers moments before the band was due to arrive on stage. Authorities received numerous bomb threats, while hundreds of activists affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church were seen protesting outside the venue. The incident culminated in the assault of several of the band's crew members outside their hotel. Two days later, another performance in the Russian city of Novosibirsk was cancelled when authorities refused to allow the show to go ahead, accusing Manson of insulting the beliefs of the Orthodox church and of "promoting sadomasochism".

The Pale Emperor was released in the US on January 20, 2015. Heaven Upside Down (2017) and We Are Chaos (2020) would follow.

Always a showman, the perfect entertainer for the 1990s, a sign of the times, whatever you call him, Marilyn Manson changed the face of music and pushed it one step farther.

Footnote: Many do not consider Marilyn Manson as a true representation of the 'Gothic' movement and see him as a pop culture stereotype. Arguments aside, the gothic movement has been evolving for many years, one of the most known has been an influence to many in the genre named Alien Sex Fiend, and Andi Sex Gang of the Sex Gang Children who donned the black leather, studs, spikes and face paint now popular in death metal, black metal and the gothic movements.

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Left to Right: Twiggy, Gacy and Manson performing at the "A Night of Nothing" industry showcase, 1995.
Photo by: Maldredor
(CC BY-SA 3.0)

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