Brian Hugh Warner (born January 5, 1969), known professionally as Marilyn Manson, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, actor, painter, writer, and former music journalist. He is known for his controversial stage personality and image as the lead singer of the band of the same name, which he co-founded with guitarist Daisy Berkowitz in 1989 and of which he remains the only constant member. Like the other founding members of the band, his stage name was formed by combining and juxtaposing the names of two opposing American cultural icons: a sex symbol and a serial killer; in Manson's case, actress Marilyn Monroe and criminal Charles Manson.
Manson performing in September 2017
Brian Hugh Warner
January 5, 1969
Canton, Ohio, U.S.
(m. 2005; div. 2007)
Manson is best known for music released in the 1990s, most notably the albums Portrait of an American Family (1994), Antichrist Superstar (1996) and Mechanical Animals (1998) which earned him a reputation in mainstream media as a controversial figure and negative influence on young people when combined with his public image. In the U.S. alone, three of the band's albums have been awarded platinum status and three more went gold, and the band has had eight releases debut in the top 10, including two No. 1 albums. Manson has been ranked at No. 44 on the list of the "Top 100 Heavy Metal Vocalists" by Hit Parader and, along with his band, has been nominated for four Grammy Awards.
Manson made his film debut as an actor in David Lynch's Lost Highway (1997), and has since appeared in a variety of minor roles and cameos. He was interviewed in Michael Moore's political documentary about gun violence, Bowling for Columbine, discussing possible motivations for the 1999 Columbine massacre, after media speculation that the shooters were avid fans of Manson's music; he denied allegations that his music was a contributory factor. In September 2002, his first art show, The Golden Age of Grotesque, was held at the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions center. At a 2010 exhibition at Kunsthalle gallery in Vienna, he unveiled Genealogies of Pain, a series of 20 paintings on which he collaborated with Lynch.
Brian Hugh Warner was born in Canton, Ohio, on January 5, 1969, the only son of Barbara Warner Wyer (died May 13, 2014) and Hugh Angus Warner (died July 7, 2017). He is of English, German, and Irish descent. He has also claimed that his mother, whose family hailed from the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia, had Sioux heritage. As a child, Warner attended his mother's Episcopal church, though his father was a Roman Catholic. He attended Heritage Christian School from first to 10th grade. In that school, his instructors tried to show children what music they were not supposed to listen to; Warner then fell in love with what he "wasn't supposed to do". Warner later transferred to GlenOak High School and graduated from there in 1987. After relocating with his parents, he became a student at Broward Community College in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1990. He was working towards a degree in journalism, gaining experience in the field by writing articles for the music magazine 25th Parallel. He also interviewed musicians and soon met several of the musicians to whom his own work was later compared, including Groovie Mann from My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, with the latter later becoming his mentor and producing his debut album.
Warner and guitarist Scott "Daisy Berkowitz" Putesky formed Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids following conversations at the Reunion Room in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1989. The name was later shortened to Marilyn Manson. While with The Spooky Kids, Manson teamed with Jeordie White (also known as Twiggy Ramirez) and Stephen Gregory Bier Jr. (also known as Madonna Wayne Gacy) in two side-projects: Satan on Fire, a faux-Christian metal ensemble where he played bass guitar, and drums in Mrs. Scabtree, a collaborative band formed with White and then girlfriend Jessicka (vocalist with the band Jack Off Jill) as a way to combat contractual agreements that prohibited Marilyn Manson from playing in certain clubs.
In 1993, the band drew the attention of Trent Reznor, who produced their 1994 debut album Portrait of an American Family and released it on his Nothing Records label. The band began to develop a cult following, which grew larger on the Downward Spiral Tour that featured Nine Inch Nails and Jim Rose Circus along with the release of Smells Like Children in 1995. That EP yielded the band's first big MTV hit with "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)", a cover of the 1983 Eurythmics hit. Antichrist Superstar (co-produced by Trent Reznor) was an even greater success.
In the U.S. alone, three of the band's albums have been awarded two platinum and three more went gold, and the band has had seven releases debut in the top ten, including two number-one albums. Manson first worked as a producer with the band Jack Off Jill. He helped name the band and produced most of the band's early recordings, and also played guitar on the song "My Cat" and had the band open most of his South Florida shows. Manson later wrote the liner notes to the band's album Humid Teenage Mediocrity 1992–1996, a collection of early Jack Off Jill recordings.
Commentators have referred to the band's lead singer as being one of the most iconic and controversial figures in heavy metal music, with some going so far as to call him a "pop culture icon". Paste magazine said there were "few artists in the 90s as shocking as Marilyn Manson, the most famous of the shock-rockers".
Manson has appeared as a guest performer on DMX's album Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood and on Godhead's 2000 Years of Human Error album – the only album released on his vanity label Posthuman. In 2011 it was revealed that Manson was to appear on the singer Skylar Grey's album Invinsible on the track entitled "Can't Haunt Me". Manson released his eighth studio album, Born Villain, in May 2012. On November 10, 2014, Manson posted via his official Facebook page that his ninth studio album, The Pale Emperor, would be released on January 20, 2015. On August 15, 2015, Manson had New Orleans brass ensemble the Soul Rebels perform "The Beautiful People" with him live in Japan at the Summer Sonic Music Festival. Shooter Jennings' album Countach (For Giorgio) (a tribute to Giorgio Moroder) features Manson performing guest vocals on a cover of David Bowie's "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)". The album was released on February 26, 2016.
On September 30, 2017, Manson was injured by two large falling stage props while he performed on stage at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, breaking his fibula in two places, requiring a plate and ten screws to be inserted in the bone, as well as another screw in his ankle, which he had sprained during a show in Pittsburgh.
Film and television
Manson made his film debut in 1997, as an actor in David Lynch's Lost Highway. Since then he has appeared in a variety of minor roles and cameos, including Party Monster; then-girlfriend Rose McGowan's 1999 film Jawbreaker; Asia Argento's 2004 film The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things; Rise; The Hire: Beat The Devil, the sixth installment in the BMW films series; and Showtime's comedy-drama TV series Californication in 2013, in which Manson portrayed himself. He also appeared on HBO's Eastbound & Down, of which Manson is reportedly a longtime fan, and had lobbied to appear on for years; and ABC's Once Upon a Time, for which he provided the voice of the character "Shadow".
He was interviewed in Michael Moore's political documentary Bowling for Columbine discussing possible motivations for the Columbine massacre and allegations that his music was somehow a factor. He has appeared in animated form in Clone High and participated in several episodes of the MTV series Celebrity Deathmatch, becoming the show's unofficial champion and mascot; he often performed the voice for his claymated puppet, and contributed the song "Astonishing Panorama of the Endtimes" to the soundtrack album. In July 2005, Manson told Rolling Stone that he was shifting his focus from music to filmmaking – "I just don't think the world is worth putting music into right now. I no longer want to make art that other people – particularly record companies – are turning into a product. I just want to make art." Johnny Depp reportedly used Manson as his inspiration for his performance as Willy Wonka in the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Manson himself expressed interest in playing the role of Willy Wonka in the film.
He had been working on his directorial debut, Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll, a project that has been in development hell since 2004, with Manson also set to portray the role of Lewis Carroll, author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Initially announced as a web-only release, it was later decided to give the estimated $4.2 million budget film a conventional cinema release, with a slated release date of mid-2007. The film was to have an original music soundtrack with previously unreleased songs. Production of the film had been postponed indefinitely until after the Eat Me, Drink Me tour. In 2010, studio bosses shut down production on the project, reportedly due to viewers' responses to the violent content of clips released on the internet. The film was later officially put on "indefinite production hold".
However, according to a 2010 interview with co-writer Anthony Silva about the hold, the film was still on and the talk of it being shut down was just a myth. In a June 2013 interview, Manson stated that he had "resurrected" the project, and that Roger Avary would direct it. In a separate interview during the previous year, he said a small crew similar to what he used for his "Slo-Mo-Tion" music video would be used, and would rather film the movie on an iPhone than not film it at all. In a Reddit AMA with Billy Corgan on April 4, 2015, Manson commented that he had withdrawn from the project because the writing process for the film was "so... damaging to my psyche, I've decided I don't want to have anything to do with it." and further commented that the only footage that had been created thus far had been content created for the trailer, which was made in order to promote the film.
Manson appeared in the final season of the TV series Sons of Anarchy, portraying white supremacist Ron Tully. In January 2016, it was announced that Manson would be joining the cast for season 3 of WGN's Salem. He played Thomas Dinley, a barber and surgeon described as "the go-to man in Salem, from a shave and a haircut to being leeched, bled, sliced open or sewn up". In 2020, Manson was a guest star on the HBO television series The New Pope, in which he has a personal audience with the series' Pope and recommends that he visit the prior Pope that lies unconscious in a coma.
Manson stated in a 2004 interview with i-D magazine to have begun his career as a watercolor painter in 1999 when he made five-minute concept pieces and sold them to drug dealers. On September 13–14, 2002, his first show, The Golden Age of Grotesque, was held at the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions Centre. Art in America's Max Henry likened them to the works of a "psychiatric patient given materials to use as therapy" and said his work would never be taken seriously in a fine art context, writing that the value was "in their celebrity, not the work". On September 14–15, 2004, Manson held a second exhibition on the first night in Paris and the second in Berlin. The show was named 'Trismegistus' which was also the title of the center piece of the exhibit – a large, three-headed Christ painted onto an antique wood panel from a portable embalmers table.
Manson named his self-proclaimed art movement Celebritarian Corporation. He has coined a slogan for the movement: "We will sell our shadow to those who stand within it." In 2005 he said that the Celebritarian Corporation has been "incubating for seven years" which if correct would indicate that Celebritarian Corporation, in some form, started in 1998. Celebritarian Corporation is also the namesake of an art gallery owned by Manson, called the Celebritarian Corporation Gallery of Fine Art in Los Angeles for which his third exhibition was the inaugural show. From April 2–17, 2007, his works were on show at the Space 39 Modern & Contemporary art gallery in Fort Myers, Florida. Forty pieces from this show traveled to Germany's Gallery Brigitte Schenk in Cologne to be publicly exhibited from June 28 – July 28, 2007. Manson revealed a series of 20 paintings in 2010 entitled Genealogies of Pain, an exhibition showcased at Vienna's Kunsthalle gallery which the artist collaborated on with David Lynch.
Manson has made an appearance in the video game Area 51 as Edgar, a grey alien. His song "Cruci-Fiction in Space" is featured in a commercial for the video game, The Darkness. His likeness is also featured on the Celebrity Deathmatch video game for which he recorded a song for the soundtrack (2003). The song "Use Your Fist and Not Your Mouth" was the credits score of the game Cold Fear as well as Spawn: Armageddon. The song "Four Rusted Horses" had an alternate version used in trailers for the video game Fear 3. A remix of the song "Tainted Love" appears in the debut trailer for the 2010 video game, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit and in the launch trailer of the 2012 video game Twisted Metal. Manson's song "The Beautiful People" was featured in WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth, KickBeat and Brütal Legend. The song "Arma-goddamn-motherfuckin-geddon" is also featured in Saints Row: The Third. His music video to the song "Personal Jesus" was used in some parts of the Buzz! game series.
Manson launched "Mansinthe", his own brand of Swiss-made absinthe, which has received mixed reviews; some critics described the taste as being "just plain", but it came second to Versinthe in an Absinthe top five and won a gold medal at the 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Other reviewers, such as critics at The Wormwood Society, have given the absinthe moderately high praise. In 2015, Manson stated he was no longer drinking absinthe.
Manson predominantly delivers lyrics in a melodic fashion, although he invariably enhances his vocal register by utilizing several extended vocal techniques, such as vocal fry, screaming, growling and crooning. His voice has five different tones, which mixing engineer Robert Carranza discovered can form a pentagram when imported into a phrasal analyzer. He possesses a baritone vocal type, and has a vocal range which can span more than four octaves. His lowest bass note of A1 can be heard in "Arma-goddamn-motherfuckin-geddon", while his highest note, an E6 – the first note of the whistle register – can be heard on the Born Villain song "Hey, Cruel World...".
The name Marilyn Manson is formed by a juxtaposition of two opposing American pop cultural icons: Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson. Monroe, an actress, was one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and continues to be a major icon over 50 years after, while Manson, a cult leader, was responsible for the murder of actress Sharon Tate, as well as several others; and served a life sentence on murder and conspiracy charges until his death in 2017.
Manson has mentioned on at least two occasions that he trademarked the name Marilyn Manson. In an interview at the 2015 Cannes Lions Festival, he said: "I trademarked the name 'Marilyn Manson' the same way as Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse. It's not a stage name. It's not my legal name. ... Marilyn Manson is owned by Brian Warner, my real name." He also mentioned this in a 2013 interview with Larry King. The records of the United States Patent and Trademark Office show that he registered four trademarks of the name between 1994 and 1999, protecting entertainment services, merchandising and branding.
Manson says he used those trademark registrations to issue cease and desist orders to media outlets who wrongly blamed him for the Columbine High School massacre. One journalist had erroneously reported the shooters were "wearing Marilyn Manson makeup and t-shirts," although the reports were soon proved incorrect. However, Manson said, "Once the wheels started spinning, Fox News started going." As a result of these accusations, Manson's career was seriously harmed: He was shunned by many venue owners and received numerous death threats.
Manson generally uses the name in lieu of his birth name. Though his mother referred to him by his birth name of Brian, his father has opted to refer to his son as simply "Manson" since at least 1993, saying, "It's called respect of the artist."
In September 1996, former bassist Gidget Gein negotiated a settlement with Manson where he would receive US$17,500 and 20 percent of any royalties paid for recordings and for any songs he had a hand in writing and his share of any other royalties or fees the group earned while he was a member and he could market himself as a former member of Marilyn Manson. This settlement was not honored, however.
Former guitarist and founding member Scott Putesky (a.k.a. Daisy Berkowitz) filed a $15 million lawsuit in a Fort Lauderdale court against the singer, the band and the band's attorney (David Codikow) in January 1998 after his departure from the group in the spring of 1996. Berkowitz claimed "thousands of dollars in royalties, publishing rights, and performance fees" and filed an attorney malpractice suit against Codikow, alleging that "Codikow represented Warner's interests more than the band's and ... gave Warner disproportionate control.." By October of that year, the suit had been settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
On November 30, 1998, a few days after the band accumulated "[a] total [of] more than $25,000" in backstage and hotel room damages during the Poughkeepsie, New York, stop of their Mechanical Animals Tour, SPIN editor Craig Marks filed a $24-million lawsuit against Manson and his bodyguards. On February 19, 1999, Manson counter-sued Marks for libel, slander and defamation, seeking US$40 million in reparation. Marks later dropped the lawsuit. Manson apologized for the Poughkeepsie incident and offered to make financial restitution.
In a civil battery suit, David Diaz, a security officer from a concert in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 27, 2000, sued for US$75,000 in a Minneapolis federal court. The federal court jury found in Manson's favor. In a civil suit presented by Oakland County, Michigan, Manson was charged with sexual misconduct against another security officer, Joshua Keasler, during a concert in Clarkston, Michigan, on July 30, 2001. Oakland County originally filed assault and battery and criminal sexual misconduct charges, but the judge reduced the latter charge to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Manson pleaded no contest to the reduced charges, paid a US$4,000 fine, and later settled the lawsuit under undisclosed terms.
On April 3, 2002, Maria St. John filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court accusing Manson of providing her adult daughter, Jennifer Syme, with cocaine and instructing her to drive while under the influence. After attending a party at Manson's house, Syme was given a lift home; Manson claims she was taken home by a designated driver. After she got home, she got behind the wheel of her own vehicle and was killed when she crashed it into three parked cars. Manson is reported to have said there were no alcohol or other drugs at the party; St. John's lawyer disputed this claim.
On August 2, 2007, former band member Stephen Bier filed a lawsuit against Manson for unpaid "partnership proceeds", seeking $20 million in back pay. Several details from the lawsuit leaked to the press. In December 2007, Manson countersued, claiming that Bier failed to fulfill his duties as a bandmember to play for recordings and to promote the band. On December 28, 2009, the suit was settled with an agreement which saw Bier's attorneys being paid a total of $380,000.
Manson has supported various charitable causes throughout his career. In 2002, he worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to collaborate with a fan who had been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. 16-year-old Andrew Baines from Tennessee was invited into the band's recording studio to record backing vocals for their then-upcoming album, The Golden Age of Grotesque. Manson said on his website, "Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with Andrew, who reminded me the things I create are only made complete by those who enjoy them. I just want to simply say, thank you to Andrew for sharing such an important wish with me." He contributed to Oxfam's 2013 "Rumble in the Jumble" event, which raised money to aid victims of domestic and sexual abuse in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has supported various organizations – such as Music for Life and Little Kids Rock – which enable access to musical instruments and education to children of low-income families. He has also worked with Project Nightlight, a group that encourages children and teenagers to speak out against physical and sexual abuse. In 2019, he performed alongside Cyndi Lauper at her annual 'Home for the Holidays' benefit concert, with all proceeds donated to Lauper's True Colors United, which "works to develop solutions to youth homelessness that focus on the unique experiences of LGBTQ young people."
Manson and burlesque dancer, model, and costume designer Dita Von Teese became a couple in 2001. Manson proposed on March 22, 2004, and they were married in a private, non-denominational ceremony officiated by Chilean film director Alejandro Jodorowsky. On December 30, 2006, Von Teese filed for divorce due to "irreconcilable differences". Von Teese also stated she did not agree with his "partying or his relationship with another girl". Manson's "heavy boozing" and distant behavior were also cited as cause for the split. A judgment of divorce was entered in Los Angeles Superior Court on December 27, 2007.
Manson's relationship with actress, model, and musician Evan Rachel Wood was made public in 2007. They reportedly maintained an on-again, off-again relationship for several years. Manson proposed to Wood during a Paris stage performance in January 2010, but the couple broke off the engagement later that year.
In the March 2012 issue of Revolver magazine, American photographer Lindsay Usich was referred to as Manson's girlfriend. The article referenced a new painting by Manson featuring Usich. She is credited as the photo source for the cover art of Manson's 2012 album, Born Villain. It was later confirmed that the two were romantically involved. In February 2015, Manson told Beat magazine that he is "newly single".
Manson was a friend of Anton LaVey, who even inducted him as a minister in the Church of Satan, although Manson downplayed this. When questioned whether he was a minister in the Church of Satan by Bill O'Reilly, Manson responded with "No, not necessarily. That was something earlier. It was a friend of mine who's now dead, who was a philosopher that I thought I learned a lot from. And that was a title I was given, so a lot of people made a lot out of it. But it's not a real job, I didn't get paid for it."
As a result, he has been described as "the highest profile Satanist ever" with strong anti-Christian views and social Darwinist leanings. However, Manson himself denies this, and stated the following:
"I'm not a misanthrope. I'm not a nihilist. I'm not an atheist. I believe in spirituality, but it really has to come from somewhere else. I learned a long time ago, you can't try to change the world, you can just try to make something in it. I think that's my spirituality, it's putting something into the world. If you take all the basic principles of any religion, it's usually about creation. There's also destruction, but creation essentially. I was raised Christian. I went to a Christian school, because my parents wanted me to get a better education. But when I got kicked out I was sent to public school, and got beat up more by the public school kids. But then I'd go to my friend's Passover and have fun."— Marilyn Manson
Manson is also familiar with the writings of Aleister Crowley and Friedrich Nietzsche. He quotes Crowley throughout his autobiography, including Thelema's principal dictum, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." Crowley's esoteric subject matter forms an important leitmotif in much of Manson's early work.
- Portrait of an American Family (1994)
- Antichrist Superstar (1996)
- Mechanical Animals (1998)
- Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) (2000)
- The Golden Age of Grotesque (2003)
- Eat Me, Drink Me (2007)
- The High End of Low (2009)
- Born Villain (2012)
- The Pale Emperor (2015)
- Heaven Upside Down (2017)
- We Are Chaos (2020)
- 1997 Rasputina – Transylvanian Regurgitations – "Transylvanian Concubine (The Manson Mix)"
- 1998 DMX – Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood – "The Omen (Damien II)"
- 2000 Eminem – The Way I Am – "The Way I Am (Danny Lohner & Marilyn Manson Remix)"
- 2001 Godhead – 2000 Years of Human Error – "Break You Down"
- 2002 Linkin Park – Reanimation – "Buy Myself [Manson Remix] (Remix of "By Myself")
- 2009 Lady Gaga – "LoveGame" / The Remix – "LoveGame (Chew Fu GhettoHouse Fix)"
- 2013 Skylar Grey – Can't Haunt Me – "Can't Haunt Me"
- 2013 Gucci Mane – Diary of a Trap God – "Pussy Wet"
- 2013 Avril Lavigne – Avril Lavigne – "Bad Girl"
- 2013 Mr. Oizo – Amicalement EP – "Solid"
- 2014 Emigrate – Silent So Long – "Hypothetical"
- 2015 Marilyn Manson Guest DJ on IHeartRadio
- 2016 Shooter Jennings – Countach (For Giorgio) – "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)"
Guest appearances in music videos
- 1992: Nine Inch Nails – "Gave Up"
- 2000: Nine Inch Nails – "Starfuckers, Inc."
- 2000: Eminem – "The Way I Am"
- 2002: Murderdolls – "Dead in Hollywood"
- 2010: Rammstein – "Haifisch"
- 2011: D'hask – "Tempat Ku"
- 2014: Die Antwoord – "Ugly Boy"
- 2017: Elton John – "Tiny Dancer"
- 2020: Corey Taylor – "CMFT Must Be Stopped"
Awards and nominations
|1999||"The Dope Show"||Best Hard Rock Performance||Nominated|
|2001||"Astonishing Panorama of the Endtimes"||Best Metal Performance||Nominated|
|2004||"mOBSCENE"||Best Metal Performance||Nominated|
|2013||"No Reflection"||Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance||Nominated|
|1996||"Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)"||Best Hard Rock Video||Nominated|
|1997||"The Beautiful People"||Best Hard Rock Video||Nominated|
|Best Special Effects in a Video||Nominated|
|Best Art Direction in a Video||Nominated|
|1999||"The Dope Show"||Best Cinematography in a Video||Won|
|1997||"Long Hard Road Out of Hell"||Best Song From a Movie Soundtrack|
|1999||Marilyn Manson||Live Performer of the Year|
|1998||God Is in the TV||Home Video of the Year|
|2000||Marilyn Manson||Male Performer of the Year|
|2015||Marilyn Manson||Lifetime achievement award||Won|
Filmography and TV roles
- Lost Highway (1997)
- Celebrity Deathmatch (1998)
- Jawbreaker (1999)
- Clone High (2002)
- Bowling for Columbine (2002)
- Beat the Devil (2002)
- Party Monster (2003)
- The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things (2004)
- Born Villain (2011)
- Wrong Cops (2013)
- Californication (2013)
- Celebrity Ghost Stories
- Once Upon a Time (2013) Voice of Peter Pan's shadow
- Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll (cancelled)
- Sons of Anarchy (2014) (Ron Tully)
- Let Me Make You a Martyr (2016) (Pope)
- Salem (2016–2017) (Thomas Dinley)
- The New Pope (2020)
- The New Mutants (2020) Voice of the Smile Man
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rock singer Marilyn Manson in 1969 (age 50)
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