Was Terry Melcher the Manson Family’s intended victim?

(aka Terrence P. “Terry” Melcher, Terrence Jorden)

Music producer Terry Melcher, 27, son of Doris Day

Terry Melcher, born February 8, 1942 as Terrence P. Jorden, was a musician and record producer who was instrumental in shaping the California Sound and American West Coast rock music, particularly during the nascent counterculture era. He was the only child of actress and singer Doris Day. His father was Day’s first husband Al Jorden.

In 1968, Dennis Wilson, a member of the Beach Boys, introduced Melcher to ex-con and aspiring musician Charles Manson.

Manson and his “family” had been living in Wilson’s house at 14400 Sunset Boulevard after Wilson had picked up hitchhiking Manson family members Patricia Krenwinkel and Ella Jo Bailey. Wilson expressed interest in Manson’s music and even recorded two of Manson’s songs with the Beach Boys. For a time, Melcher was interested in recording Manson’s music as well as making a film about the family and their hippie commune existence.

Manson met Melcher at 10050 Cielo Drive, the home Melcher shared with his girlfriend, actress Candice Bergen, and with musician Mark Lindsay. Manson eventually auditioned for Melcher, but Melcher declined to sign him. There was still talk of making a documentary about Manson’s music, but Melcher abandoned the project after witnessing his subject become embroiled in a fight with a drunken stuntman at Spahn Ranch. Both Wilson and Melcher severed their ties with Manson, a move that angered Manson.

Not long after splitting from Manson, Melcher and Bergen moved out of the Cielo Drive home. The house’s owner, Rudi Altobelli, then leased it to film director Roman Polanski and his wife, actress Sharon Tate.

Manson allegedly visited the house asking for Melcher, but was turned away because Melcher had moved. On August 9, 1969, the house was the site of the murders of Tate (who was eight months pregnant at the time), coffee heiress Abigail Folger, hairdresser Jay Sebring, writer Wojciech Frykowski and Steven Parent by members of Manson’s “family.” Some authors and law enforcement personnel have theorized that the Cielo Drive house was targeted by Manson as revenge for Melcher’s rejection and that Manson was unaware that he and Bergen had moved out. However, family member Charles “Tex” Watson stated that Manson and company did know that Melcher was no longer living there. Additionally, Terry’s former roommate, Mark Lindsay, stated:

“Everybody speculated that Manson sent his minions up there to get rid of Terry Melcher because he was angry about not getting a record deal. But Terry and I talked about it later and Terry said Manson knew he had moved because Manson or someone from his organization left a note on Terry’s porch in Malibu.”

At that time, Melcher was producing singer Jimmy Boyd’s music for A&M Records. After recording initial tracks, the Manson murders went down, prompting Melcher to go into seclusion. He never completed the session. When police arrested Manson, the media reported he had sent his followers to the house to kill Melcher and Bergen. Manson family member Susan Atkins, who admitted her part in the murders, stated to police and before a grand jury that they chose the house “to instill fear into Terry Melcher because Terry had given us his word on a few things and never came through with them.”

In this aim, the Manson Family was successful. Melcher employed a bodyguard and told Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi that his fear was so great, he had been undergoing psychiatric treatment. He was the most frightened of the witnesses at the trial, even though Bugliosi assured him that Manson knew he was no longer living at 10050 Cielo Drive. Melcher testified to both the Grand Jury on December 5, 1969 and during People vs Charles Watson, on Monday, August 23, 1971.

Melcher died of malignant melanoma in 2004 convinced he had been Charles Manson’s intended murder victim at 10050 Cielo Drive, Los Angeles, in 1969.

For decades there have been rumors that Melcher underplayed and possibly even lied about his relationship with Manson and The Family. In Tom O’Neill’s book CHAOS: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the 60’s, the author uncovers several new and shocking facts about Melcher’s involvement with Manson.

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders and millions of other books are available for Amazon

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