In December 1968, Charles Manson heard this song, as well as others from The White Album
, and interpreted them as a warning of an approaching race war. He saw the Beatles as the four angels mentioned in the New Testament book of Revelation and believed their songs were telling him and his followers to prepare themselves. Manson referred to this future war as "Helter Skelter," and tried to ignite it by sending his followers to invade two homes and murder the inhabitants, making it look like the work of the Black Panthers.
The word "Pig" was written in blood at the crime scenes, and the phrase "Healter Skelter" (a misspelling of the Beatles song) was scrawled at the second home, the one belonging to The Labiancas.
Because of this connection, Los Angeles assistant District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi, who led the prosecution of Manson and the other killers, named his best-selling book about the murders Helter Skelter
. Bugliosi's book was the basis for a film of the same title.
In an interview with Lennon in the January 1971 edition of Rolling Stone
, the former Beatle was asked about his reaction to Manson's deluded interpretation of this song. Lennon replied: "He's balmy, like any other Beatle-kind of fan who reads mysticism into it. We used to have a laugh about this, that or the other, in a light-hearted way, and some intellectual would read us, some symbolic youth generation wants to see something in it. We also took seriously some parts of the role, but I don't know what 'Helter Skelter' has to do with knifing somebody. I've never listened to the words, properly, it was just a noise."
As for Manson, he disputed Bugliosi's interpretation of the Helter Skelter theory he used to prosecute the case, telling Rolling Stone
, "that doesn't even make insane sense."