Site hosted by Build your free website today!
RECIPE for a Marilyn Manson: Take one music journalist from Ohio and add one part sex kitten, one part serial killer. Mix well. Slowly fold in some KISS, Alice Cooper, power chords, Trent Reznor, occultism, and Dr. Seuss. Season with one hell of a marketing campaign. Cover, let simmer, and ladle over the youth of America. Serves four million.

The shtick is old, but Marilyn Manson's devotees don't seem to know it. Whether or not you buy the neo-Satanism hype doesn't matter — the fans do, and there are enough of them to have propelled the five-piece hard-rock band to platinum status. While they've landed on morality-czar William Bennett's hit list, Marilyn Manson's disciples revel in their outside-looking-in status: Being called "filth and crap" by America's self-declared "cultural warrior" has done nothing but increase the fervor of the band's hard-core fans.

If you're a death-metal neophyte, you should note that Marilyn Manson is both the name of a band from Florida and the name of that band's lead singer; for the most part, the two are the same. Marilyn Manson, the singer, came into the world as Brian Warner, a Midwestern boy who spent a fairly typical childhood in Canton, Ohio: His parents stayed together, he hung out at the malls, and he spent plenty of time making crank phone calls, just like any other red-blooded American kid. All of which makes you wonder where his newfound persona came from. Perhaps most all-American boys relish the idea of becoming the latest personification of Ozzy Osbourne.

When he turned 18, Warner moved to Florida, where he worked as a music critic in the Tampa Bay area. In 1989, he bumped into a guitarist who, in his post-Manson incarnation, goes by Scott Mitchell (real name Scott Putesky). The two hit it off, and discovered they shared some similar ideas about the South Florida music scene. Taking his influences from tabloid talk shows and his name from two '60s icons, Manson convinced Mitchell to change his name to Daisy Berkowitz (a freak-show combo of Daisy Duke and Son of Sam killer David Berkowitz), thereby setting the stage for the names of the new band members over the years. When bassist Gidget Gein and keyboardist Madonna Wayne-Gacy joined up, they actually had a real band — Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids — complete with paying gigs, their own cassettes, and some homegrown special effects (everything from Manson's makeup to Lite-Brite toys reading "Kill God" and "Anal Fun"). They soon replaced their drum machine with Sara Lee Lucas (later replaced by Ginger Fish) — a change that gave them much more of a hard-core than an industrial sound — and in 1992, they were nominated by fans for both Best Hard Alternative Band and Band of the Year in South Florida's Slammies awards.

Deciding that the entire band name was too much to swallow, they sliced their moniker down to, simply, Marilyn Manson. This didn't seem to confuse their fans a bit, and during the summer of 1993, they racked up five more Slammie nominations, and won the hefty honor of Band of the Year. More importantly, Trent Reznor dished them up a recording contract with his Nothing Records label, and the chance to open for Nine Inch Nails in the spring of 1994. Manson accepted both offers, and the troop laid down its first full-length album, Portrait of an American Family, which was released in July 1994.

The Nine Inch Nails tour started giving the Mansons the exposure they craved. Twiggy Ramirez had come onboard as the new bassist, replacing the drug-addled Gidget Gein, and the tour generated several episodes that have gone down in Marilyn Manson lore. Banned by the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, Manson was invited up onstage by Reznor during NIN's set, at which point he proceeded to rip apart a copy of the Book of Mormon, which led to a frenzied trashing of the dressing rooms. In October 1994, he arranged a meeting with Dr. Anton Szandor LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, who bestowed upon Manson the title of "Reverend."

Back in Florida after the tour, Manson quickly wound up in jail on a charge of "violation of the Adult Entertainment Code" following a nudity-filled gig in Jacksonville. As soon as Manson was sprung, the band went on tour again, this time as headliners. In South Carolina they ran into the greatest controversy of their young careers: the chicken incident. Apparently, the band decided to toss a chicken from the stage and into the vicious wilds of the mosh pit during their show. But instead of being shredded by belligerent fans, the bird was eventually rescued by a Marilyn Manson-PETA fan. Still, the chicken's ultimate fate did nothing to dispel rumors of Manson offering sacrifices to Satan, not to mention the murmur that he had removed several of his own ribs in order to perform fellatio on himself.

The EP Smells Like Children was released in October 1995, and Marilyn Manson's cover of the Eurythmics classic "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" grabbed airplay, MTV, and media attention. Suddenly, it became cool to dig Marilyn Manson. A five-month weather-bludgeoned tour followed; highlights included Manson shoving Berkowitz off the stage on New Year's Eve, and a snowed-in night in Allentown, Pa., during which the Mansons found themselves trapped in the same hotel and the same bar as the touring company of "Sesame Street Live" and the Orlando Magic basketball team.

Upon their return to Florida, Berkowitz quit the band, and although he's credited in the liner notes, some insiders claim he doesn't actually appear on Marilyn Manson's 1996 LP, Antichrist Superstar. He would later sue Manson, claiming to be owed substantial sums in unpaid royalties. To replace Berkowitz, the band placed an ad in the Village Voice to find a new guitar player, and after sifting through 150 responses, they finally settled on a Chicagoan dubbed Zim Zum. Antichrist Superstar, which was released in October 1996, debuted at the No. 3 spot on Billboard's charts and garnered general critical acclaim. The songs were lyrically deeper and far more intense than their earlier carnival-style efforts; it was a far more "serious" effort than the Mansons had yet produced.

By early 1997, Marilyn Manson was at the top of its rather peculiar genre. Shortly after the release of Antichrist Superstar, you couldn't spit without hitting a new fan wearing a Manson T-shirt or a mainstream magazine carrying Manson interviews. If you owned a radio during this period of time, the single "The Beautiful People" was unavoidable. Curiously, though, given the tremendous fuss over Antichrist Superstar, the album sold a relatively modest 1.4 million copies by mid-1998, according to SoundScan sales figures.

Regardless, the band would go on to have its most successful year ever in 1997, both in terms of popularity and headlines generated. The tour in support of Antichrist Superstar was met with protests in many American cities, some of which successfully forced venue changes and even cancellations. Religious outlets like the 700 Club took up the cause, as did one U.S. Senator — all the while, Manson was laughing his way to superstardom. The anti-Manson campaign crested in June with a well-publicized battle to force the band from an Ozzfest tour stop at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. The group eventually won and played the gig, though the Ozzfest tour wound up as something of a sidestep for Manson and his mates, who had grown too popular to share a festival bill.

The high (or depending on your perspective, low) point of Manson's triumphant year was a September 1997 appearance on the MTV Video Music Awards, at which the dark master himself addressed the crowd from a mock presidential podium before launching into "The Beautiful People" and exposing the better part of his naked buttocks to millions of viewers the world over. The group capped the year by releasing a five-song EP, Remix & Repent, in November. Manson also solidified his relationship with the Smashing Pumpkins Billy Corgan (who would help to shape the direction of the band's next album) by joining him on stage at the annual Bridge School benefit concert in Mountain View, Calif., in October, and again at a Pumpkins gig in Florida in December.

For the first half of 1998, Marilyn Manson maintained a low profile while recording what would become the band's third full-length album. With the completion of the record, however, the Manson lineup suffered another casualty — Zim Zum departed for a solo career, and was replaced by former Two guitarist John "John 5" Lowery. The first hint of a new musical direction for the group surfaced in August in the form of a reverent cover of David Bowie's "Golden Years" featured on the Dead Man on Campus soundtrack. (The album also contained "I Only Want To Be With You," a humorous duet between Twiggy Ramirez and '60s supermodel Twiggy.) Six weeks later, Manson's third album, Mechanical Animals, hit stores (though many chains refused to carry it due to its provocative cover art), which sees the band wholeheartedly embracing glam-rock styles.

Back, back I say