Here's how the lineage goes. In the '50s there was Screamin' Jay Hawkins. The '60s had The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Problem was, these guys, as outrageous as they were, were one-hit wonders. Going over the top wasn't going to provide a long career. One group came upon the idea of blending outrageous Rock performances with the intensity of the Yardbirds' Blues-Rock. And just for good measure, and a lot of media attention, theses guys decided to call themselves Alice Cooper. They had their run in the '70s, until alcoholism and creative drain killed the deal. In the '80s, Twisted Sister picked up the Cooper mantel. Dee Synder and crew featured "high skool" oriented songs but failed to capture much of an audience. For a long time Shock Rock laid dormant. Too bad.
As Alice Cooper was racing up the charts so was David Bowie. Bowie and Cooper were at separate ends of the same spectrum. If Cooper's make-up was a mess, Bowie's was perfect. Cooper was the marriage of cheap horror movies and riff-Rock. Bowie was more of an artist and storyteller, creating the androgynous persona Ziggy Stardust.
Meanwhile, there was a kid, born in Canton, OH, who was attending a Christian school. For a school play he was cast as Jesus. Jesus! But the lure of Rock was too much. Moving with his family to South Florida when he was 18, Brian Warner started combining elements of both Cooper and Bowie while adding a third potent element. Daytime talk shows. Hang it all out. Every lurid detail exposed. No mercy. No justice. Just a load of notoriety. Good or bad doesn't apply. Just fame. The allotted 15 minutes.
Warner's first clever stroke was picking a stage name. He took the first name of a '50s sex-goddess, icon, movie star and combined it with a '60s psycho-killer to come up with Marilyn Manson.
Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids soon paired down the name. Also along the way, band members took the first name of a model/actress and the last name of a serial killer: Madonna Wayne Gacy (keyboards), Ginger Fish (drums). Twiggy Ramirez (bass) and Zim Zum (guitar).
Following "Portrait Of An American Family" in '94, Marilyn Manson returned two years later with the riff driven, nihilistic blaster "Antichrist Superstar." Nothing could top that, but "Mechanical Animals," in '98, clearly showed Marilyn Manson was still a contender. The group delivered "Long Hard Road Out," with the Sneaker Pimps, for the "Spawn" soundtrack. '99 found Marilyn Manson sharing a troubled tour with Hole. Manson fans eventually won with Hole bailing. In '02 "Holy Wood" hit the stores. The following year, with new bassist Tim Skold in tow, Manson released "The Golden Age Of Grotesque."
'04's compilation "Lest We Forget" included previously released material plus heavy-handed covers of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus," a hit in some quarters, Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" and the Eurythmics "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This). For awhile that looked like the end.
Overcoming a list of personal trials and tribulations, including divorce (from performance artist- that's a nice way to put it - Dita Von Teese), Manson returned in '07 with "Eat Me, Drink Me," the group/singer's sixth studio album. It was recorded at a rented home-recording studio in Hollywood by Manson and Skold. (The songs) are clearly written to seduce somebody," said Manson. "I don't want people to think that the record is some kind of exploitation of my personal life. At the same time, it also represents exactly who I am and what I feel. . . I really wanted to be a singer on this album."
"Eat Me, Drink Me" opens with the epic (six minutes), "If I Was Your Vampire," but first single, "Heart-Shaped Glasses (When The Heart Guides The Hand)" grabbed all the attention. Or at least the song's video did with Manson and girlfriend Evan Rachel Wood kissing maliciously while having sex. Now there's a visual! Oh and let's not forget the fake blood that rained down.
Manson garnered some '08 press with the announcement that ex-Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland had joined his group. "(Borland) used to be in a really terrible band that he left because he felt that it was a destructive force in art," said Manson, getting catty at a press conference. Borland played his first Manson gig in Seoul, Korea.
Of course, nothing is ever settled in Manson's world. Just prior to the release of '09's "The High End Of Low," Manson announced Borland had left the group to rejoin Limp Bizkit.
"If the reason is money then I'd rather roll up a $5 note and shove it up my urethra," said Manson. "That move forever eradicated my feelings on his choices in life as an artist."
Borland's response was a little more measured. "I love Manson .. . . but it's the Marilyn Manson show over there," said the guitarist. "Limp Bizkit is more of a band."
Manson, no doubt, would dispute that assessment especially since Ramirez had returned to the fold (for the first time in nearly a decade). In addition, there was Fish and keyboardist Chris Vrenna.
Produced by Manson, Vrenna, and Ramirez, "The High End Of Low" was recorded at Manson's Hollywood Hills studio (probably no better place to feed off the surroundings). "The record sounds very final, but it's almost optimistic -- though that feels like a strange word to use," said Manson. "Arma . . . geddon," was the lead single. It peaked at #37 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart. The album made its debut at #4 on the Billboard 200. While that sounded impressive, first week sales only totaled 49,000 copies - the lowest opening week sales figure for a Manson album since '99's live "The Last Tour On Earth."
Even with a new album out the disarray that marked Manson's life did not go unnoticed. But instead of catching heat from the far right he got it from none other than Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor. "Seeing him now, drugs and alcohol now rule his life and he's become a dopey clown," said Reznor of his former protege. "He used to be the smartest guy in the room. And as a fan of his talents, I hope he gets his s**t together." And as if that message wasn't clear enough Reznor called Manson "a malicious guy [who] will step on anybody's face to succeed."
Right on cue, Manson told the world in '09 that he had contracted the H1N1 virus, better known as Swine Flu, just as the virus was catching on in the U.S. "I know everyone will suggest that f***ing a pig is how this disease was obtained," wrote Manson in a post on his MySpace Celebrity blog. "However, the doctor said, my past choices in women have in 'no way' contributed. . . Unfortunately, I am going to survive."
On the "The High End Of Low" supporting tour, Ramirez switched from bass to lead guitar with Andy Gerald handling bass. A bigger change occurred when the group let their contract with Interscope Records expire (after seven albums).
Following the trek, Manson entered a self-imposed seclusion. So it was left to Ramirez to talk up the groups next album. "It's our best record yet, I think," said Ramirez. "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."
In early '11 Fish announced his departure, then later in the year, Vrenna officially left after contributing to the writing and production of "Born Villain," which, after several delays, was co-released on Cooking Vinyl Records and Manson's own label. It dropped in '12 and featured a cover of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" with actor Johnny Depp.
Keeping busy between albums, Manson had recurring role a white supremacist named Ron Tully in the final season of FX's Sons Of Anarchy. Manson's Tully was the only character to kill a main character (Juice) and survive the series.
Bassist Fred Sablan, who joined the group in '10, packed it in six months before Manson's 9th album, "The Pale Emperor," dropped.
The '15 set contained "Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge," which premiered on BBC Radio 1's Rock Show. Second single, "Deep Six," debuted at #33 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock survey before peaking at #22 the following week. It was Manson's best chart showing since '04's "Personal Jesus."
Two years passed before Marilyn Manson issued their tenth studio album, "Say10." The band (Manson, Tyler Bates, Twiggy and Gil Sharone) recorded parts of the album in Louisiana, where Manson was filming scenes for the TV series Salem.
Manson stated that the '17 set was "by far the most thematic and over-complicated thing that I've done."
1994 Portrait Of An American Family
1996 Antichrist Superstar
1998 Mechanical Animals
2000 Holy Wood (In The Shadow Of The Valley Of Death)
2003 The Golden Age Of Grotesque
2007 Eat Me, Drink Me
2009 The High End Of Low
2012 Born Villain
2015 The Pale Emperor
2017 Say 10
If nothing else, Marilyn Manson made the right wingers pay attention. Wanna show that Rock is leading America's youth to ruin? Just point in Manson's direction. But what's lost is the simple fact that Marilyn Manson Rocks, and Rocks hard - lyrics spewing death, destruction and anarchy, lashed to a dense industrial sound. "Antichrist Superstar" ("The Beautiful People") is the best, followed by "Portrait Of An American Family" then "Mechanical Animals."