The dark story behind Kasabian's band name

18 June 2022, 20:00 | Updated: 28 February 2023, 15:00

Kasabian in 2022: Ian Matthews, Sergio Pizzorno, Christopher Edwards and Tim Carter
Kasabian in 2022: Ian Matthews, Sergio Pizzorno, Christopher Edwards and Tim Carter. Picture: Press

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

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?

Radio X

By Radio X

Kasabian were formed in Leicester in the late 1990s and became natural heirs to the swaggering guitar rock that made Oasis superstars. Now, having parted company with original singer Tom Meighan, guitarist and frontman Sergio Pizzorno, bassist Chris Edwards, drummer Ian Matthews and new guitarist Tim Carter - are set to return with their seventh studio album, The Alchemist's Euphoria in August 2022.

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

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. Kasabian died in prison on 21st January 2023.

Sharon Tate in the film Valley Of The Dolls, 1967
Sharon Tate in the film Valley Of The Dolls, 1967. Picture: ARCHIVIO GBB / Alamy Stock Photo

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...

Watch the official trailer for 'Once Upon A Time in Hollywood'

The case forms a key part of Quentin Tarantino’s 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.

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”.

The infamous mugshot of Charles Manson from April 1968
The infamous mugshot of Charles Manson from April 1968. Picture: IanDagnall Computing / Alamy Stock Photo

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 rented house where Sharon Tate and her friends were found dead on 9 August 1969
The rented house where Sharon Tate and her friends were found dead on 9 August 1969. Picture: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

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.