Kasabian’s name was actually inspired by the Manson Family murders

17 August 2019, 19:00 | Updated: 17 August 2019, 19:01

The name behind the Leicester indie rock powerhouse has a dark secret behind it - how did they choose the title Kasabian and what does it have to do with Charles Manson?

Kasabian were formed in Leicester in the late 1990s and became to natural heirs to the swaggering guitar rock that made Oasis superstars. The lads - singer Tom Meighan, guitarist Sergio Pizzorno, bassist Chris Edwards and drummer Ian Matthews - have gone from strength to strength since the release of their self-titled debut album 2004.

But why did Kasabian choose that name? What does Kasabian actually mean?

Linda Kasabian speaks at a news conference she held at end of her 18 days on stand as a prosecution witness in the Manson Family murder trials in Los Angeles, 19 August 1970.
Linda Kasabian speaks at a news conference she held at end of her 18 days on stand as a prosecution witness in the Manson Family murder trials in Los Angeles, 19 August 1970. Picture: David F. Smith/AP/Press Association Images

The name of the band refers to Linda Kasabian, who was the getaway driver for the Manson Family and was present at the horrendous murders that took place in August 1969 which took the lives of Sharon Tate, her unborn baby and six other people.

Sharon Tate in February 1966
Sharon Tate in February 1966. Picture: PA Archive/PA Images

Guitarist and founder member Sergio Pizzorno told Radio X: “We were definitely into our serial killers. We liked that name, so we chose that.”

Serge added: “Kasabian also means ‘butcher’ in Armenian.” According to Google Translate, “butcher” in Armenian is actually “msagorts” or “մսագործ”, so who do we believe?

However, Robert Kasabian, the musician who young Linda Drouin married in September 1967, actually had family roots in Armenia, so maybe there’s something in it...

The case forms a key part of Quentin Tarantino’s latest film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie. In the film, actor Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt) find themselves entangled in the lives of actress Sharon Tate and her husband, movie director Roman Polanski in Hollywood during the summer of 1969. The character of Linda Kasabian appears fleetingly, played by actress Maya Hawke.

The case of Charles Manson and his “Family” is also featured in the new season of Netflix’s true crime series Mindhunter.

Who was Linda Kasabian?

Linda Kasabian Press Conference, 19 August 1970
Linda Kasabian Press Conference, 19 August 1970. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Born in Biddeford, Maine in June 1949, Linda Kasabian dropped out of school, ran away from home and was married by the time she was 16. By 1968 she had married a second time to Robert Kasabian and had given birth to a daughter.

It was in the summer of 1969 that Kasabian became estranged from her husband and wound up at the Spahn Movie Ranch in Los Angeles, where she met Charles Manson. It wasn’t long before Linda became a fully-fledged member of Manson’s “family”.

Charles Manson at his trial in 1970
Charles Manson at his trial in 1970. Picture: Globe Photos/SIPA USA/PA Images

Kasabian was soon inducted into the practice of “creepy crawling” - sneaking into people’s houses and stealing items to sustain the group. As the only member of the family with a driving licence, she was essential in getting the group to and from the location of their latest crime.

On 8 August 1969, Linda Kasabian drove Charles “Tex” Watson, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel to the house of Polish film director Roman Polanski in the Hollywood hills. Polanski was a way filming, but at the house were his heavily pregnant wife Sharon Tate and her friends Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski and Abigail Folger.

As Linda Kasabian waiting outside in the car, the other members - on Manson’s instruction - brutally murdered the inhabitants of the house and another person, eighteen-year-old Stephen Parent, who chanced upon the crime as it was in progress.

The home of actress Sharon Tate and director Roman Polanski, after Tate and four others were murdered Aug. 8-9, 1969
The home of actress Sharon Tate and director Roman Polanski, after Tate and four others were murdered Aug. 8-9, 1969. Picture: AP/PA photowire service

Kasabian later claimed she tried to stop the murders by telling the others that someone was coming… but it was too late.

She accompanied the four killers - plus Leslie Van Houten and Steve “Clem” Grogan - the next night, when the couple Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were both murdered in a similar manner.

The events of those two August nights shocked the Hollywood community who wondered if they themselves would be next.

In Manson’s warped mind, the murders were there to cover up a previous killing he’d been involved with by trying to pin the crimes on radical black activists who - he claimed - were going to start a race war that would bring about the end of the United States.

Charles Manson during his trial in 1970
Charles Manson during his trial in 1970. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

When the law finally caught up with the Manson Family, Kasabian turned herself in and agreed to co-operate with prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi in exchange for immunity. Despite a campaign of intimidation and threats from other members of the Family that were camping outside the courtroom, Kasabian took the stand on 27 July 1970.

As the young girl gave her evidence, Manson was sat in the dock and slowly drew his finger across his throat. When Susan Atkins whispered “You're killing us!”, Kasabian replied “I am not killing you, you have killed yourselves.”

Susan Atkins outside the Grand Jury Room, December 1969
Susan Atkins outside the Grand Jury Room, December 1969. Picture: Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

On 25 January 1971, the defendants were found guilty and faced the death penalty - which was later commuted to life imprisonment. Manson died in prison in 2017, while Atkins died in 2009.

Charles Manson in 2009
Charles Manson in 2009. Picture: alifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via Getty Images

Linda Kasabian, meanwhile, changed her surname to “Christian” and tried to rebuild her life. She told Larry King on CNN in 2009: “Trying to live a normal life which has been really hard to do. I raised four children.”

She added: “I went through a lot of drugs and alcohol and self-destruction and probably could have used some psychological counselling and help 40 years ago but never received it.”

TV producer Nick Godwin was making a documentary for the 40th anniversary of the murders in 2009 and tracked Kasabian down to a trailer park in an undisclosed location.

Godwin told Linda that there was an English band named after her and gave her a Kasabian CD to listen to - she was “pleasantly surprised”, the filmmaker later revealed.