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Members include Ginger Fish, drums; Madonna Wayne Gacy, keyboards; John 5 (born John Lowery; joined group, 1998), guitar; Marilyn Manson (born Brian Warner on January 5, 1969, in Canton, OH); Twiggy Ramirez (left group, 2002), bass; Tim Skold (joined group, 2002), bass, production; Zim Zum (group member, 1995-1998), guitar. Addresses: Record company--Interscope Records, 2220 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404, website: http://www.interscope.com. Website--Marilyn Manson Official Website: http://www.marilynmanson.com.

Over the years, rock 'n' roll music has witnessed several "shocking" artists, including Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie), Alice Cooper, KISS, and others who frightened parents while exciting and intriguing their fans. Marilyn Manson fit the slot of "shock" rock for the 1990s and 2000s. Admittedly, singer and band founder Marilyn Manson derived his musical and performance influences from the above artists, as well as Iggy Pop, Black Sabbath, and the Beatles. Jim Farber wrote in Entertainment Weekly: "He sings about scabs, sodomy, and urine. He enjoys ripping his skin with broken bottles. And compares his music to an act of murder. Any authorities who don't like it, he says, 'should kill themselves.'"

Manson was born Brian Warner in Canton, Ohio, raised by his mother, a nurse, and his father, Hugh Warner, a furniture salesman. He began writing lyrics in the late 1980s with no intention of becoming a singer or forming a band. But in 1990, he did both. He invented the name Marilyn Manson, which he adopted as his own name, by watching and reflecting on American propaganda and sensationalism. After viewing talk shows and other entertainment sources, he came to the conclusion that Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson stood out as the most popular personalities of the 1960s.

"As I got into the idea further," Manson told Jim Rose in RIP, "I started realizing the extreme positive and negative that I was trying to outline with these two names. There was a lot of beauty to be found in Manson. There was a lot of ugliness to be found in Monroe. The lines crossed. I resided in that gray area; that what I was doing transcended morality and sexuality."

Immediate Criticism Sparked Interest

Not long after Manson formed the group, he met Nine Inch Nails creator and frontman Trent Reznor, also from Ohio. The two singer-songwriters hit it off, and when Reznor started his own record label, Nothing Records, Marilyn Manson became its first signing.

Marilyn Manson released their debut album, Portrait of an American Family, in 1994. Within the year, the group was banned from playing in Salt Lake City, Utah, after Manson ripped apart the Book of Mormon onstage. "Marilyn Manson is a bit of a challenge to people's intelligence," Manson told Rose. "It's almost a little bit of a science project to see how far I can push you, and see exactly what kind of reaction I can get." Marilyn Manson also received censorship requests and disapproval from organizations such as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Christian Coalition, and members of the British Parliament.

"My rules and moralities are probably different from a lot of other people's," Manson told Jim Farber in Entertainment Weekly. The band did compromise on some occasions to continue to have their music published and their live shows scheduled. "Compromise is inevitable sometimes," bassist Twiggy Ramirez told John Pecorelli in Alternative Press. "I mean, if you're banned in 23 states, you're not accomplishing much. No one's going to hear your message."

Cover Song Lured Listeners

Marilyn Manson released their second effort, an EP called Smells Like Children, in 1995. The album included a cover version of the Eurythmics' hit "Sweet Dreams," which launched the EP to number 31 on Billboard's album chart and racked up platinum sales.

By the end of 1995, Manson had reorganized the band. He fired guitarist Daisy Berkowitz and hired Chicago-native Zim Zum. Manson and Zum, along with bassist Twiggy Ramirez, keyboardist Madonna Wayne Gacy, and drummer Ginger Fish, released Antichrist Superstar on Nothing/Interscope in 1996. The LP debuted at number three on Billboard's Top 200 chart, and included the singles "The Beautiful People" and the title track. Within the first weeks of the album's release, the American Family Association from Mississippi released a statement to warn American families against Marilyn Manson and the group's new album. "This should serve as a wake-up call to parents everywhere," the press release stated.

Manson claimed Antichrist Superstar directly attacked Christianity's "weak value system," stating that he had recorded it in an attempt to "bring on the apocalypse." He derived the idea for the album from his own experiences and the influence of concept albums such as Pink Floyd's The Wall and David Bowie'sZiggy Stardust.

"Marilyn Manson would have fit just fine right alongside Ziggy Stardust and Alice Cooper, the Stooges, T. Rex--any of that back then," Manson told Pecorelli in Alternative Press. "And apparently, I'm gonna be the one that has to break my back to make rock music exciting again, because not too many other people are making the effort." John Pareles wrote about Manson's similarities to Alice Cooper in the New York Times. "Mr. Manson is the 1990's version of Alice Cooper," he wrote. "He uses a woman's name, leads a hard-rock band, and provides a stagey spectacle."

The "Antichrist Superstar"

On the tour for Antichrist Superstar, Manson, a self-proclaimed Satanist, would often lead the crowd in a chant of "We hate love! We love hate!" Adam Tepedelen wrote in a live review in The Rocket: "Manson is one sick little doggy; a writhing, taut body like Iggy Pop, a stage persona ('Antichrist Superstar') equal to Ziggy Stardust, Alice Cooper's flare for showbiz shock tactics, and G.G. Allin's bent for self-destruction. Love him or hate him (he'd prefer the latter), there's no denying he's a spectacle." In 1997, Marilyn Manson appeared on the Trent Reznor-produced soundtrack for David Lynch's film Lost Highway, with the song "The Apple of Sodom."

In 1998 the group released the platinum-selling Mechanical Animals, which was described by Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music Guide as "glammed-up goth" that sounded more rock oriented than the industrial Antichrist Superstar. The album reached number one on the Billboard 200 chart, propelled by hits like the Grammy Award-nominated "The Dope Show, " "Rock is Dead," and "I Don't Like the Drugs (But the Drugs Like Me)." Zim Zum was replaced during the recording of Mechanical Animals by guitarist John 5. Manson also published his autobiography, The Long Hard Road Out of Hell, in 1998.

Manson and his group toured in support of the album, but canceled all dates following the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in April of 1999 during which 12 students, a teacher, and two teenaged gunmen were killed. The tour was canceled because the band received threats (the gunmen were said to be fans of Marilyn Manson), and as a sign of respect. As quoted in Billboard, Manson expressed his sympathies in a statement: "It's tragic and disgusting anytime young people's lives are taken in an act of senseless violence. My condolences go out to the students and their families." The shootings caused the media to return to "using Marilyn Manson as the scapegoat for every illness that infects American youth," according to Krista L. May in Popular Music and Society.

Once again, Manson was required to defend his music. He commented in Rolling Stone, "When it comes down to who's to blame for the high school murders in Littleton, Colorado, throw a rock and you'll hit someone who's guilty. We're the people who sit back and tolerate children owing guns, and we're the ones who tune in and watch the up-to-the-minute details of what they do with them.... In my work I examine the America we live in, and I've always tried to show people that the devil we blame our atrocities on is really just each one of us." Manson became engaged to actress Rose McGowan in 1999, but the relationship ended in 2001.

November of 1999 saw the release of the live album The Last Tour On Earth, which was followed in 2000 by the group's next studio album, Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death). According to VH1.com, the album, which reached number 13 on the Billboard charts, "was another impressive collection of articulate and deceptively melodic industrial rock that belied the moral majority's one-dimensional portrait of Marilyn Manson as a corrupting, atonal degenerate." The group embarked on the "Guns, Gods, and Government" tour, a spectacle Manson called at the time "Cirque du Soleil meets the Sex Pistols," according to the PR Newswire. Also in 2000, Manson started his own label, Posthuman Records.

The group released The Golden Age of Grotesque in 2003. Though the album debuted at number one on Billboard's 200 chart, Ray Rogers of Interview called it "basically the same old Manson: clanking industrial grind, raging against the machine, and the most extreme form of narcissism known to rock." The album was recorded without Ramirez, who left the group in 2002. He was replaced by bassist and producer Tim Skold.

by Sonya Shelton

Marilyn Manson's Career

Group formed by Manson, 1990; signed with Nothing/Interscope, 1993; released debut, Portrait of an American Family, 1994; released Smells Like Children EP, 1995; released Antichrist Superstar, 1996; group released Mechanical Animals, Manson published his autobiography, 1998; group released Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death), Manson formed own Posthuman Records, 2000; group released The Golden Age of Grotesque, 2003.

Famous Works

Further Reading



Marilyn Manson Lyrics

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over 14 years ago

Unlike the comment before me, which is plagued with the Christian intent on trying to blame it all on the devil or "santan" as they say it. Its a quite sad that all you know about him is what the media tells you and your hypocritical religion tells you. Marilyn Manson is a very talented person who expresses the way he feels without censorship. He says what he means and without cryptic meaning like your so called "savior" does. His music is just exposing what ugly, hypocritical and gullible people you really are. Get your head out of Jesus' self-righteous a** and while your at it learn basic grammar and spelling. Have a shitty life.

almost 15 years ago

Your music is santans music. This music has a bad influence on teenagers as it does with adults. You are worshipping the devil. You are dening god. You are making it seem like its ok for people to accept the devil and exclude god/jesus in them as christ. do you not know how this will effect us. Being a teen i heard your music and cried. I love my god as my savior and your music is deciteful and i bet you are a nice guy and all but come on man, think about the people you are effecting, the people who look up to you are looking up tp santan. my words mite not mean a thing to you or who ever the hell im writing to, but who ever gets this will understand and i hope you get it. Have a blessed life