There are few musicians as comfortable with controversy as Marilyn Manson. The rock and roll legend – real name Brian Warner – reportedly smoked human bones, played with sex toys on stage, assaulted security guards and been blamed for high school massacres. In fact, throughout the nineties, many people considered Manson a danger to society. Now, of course, the shock merchant has calmed down somewhat. Like all ‘dangerous’ rock and rollers before him, he’s a victim of the thing that’s coming for all of us – time. Marilyn Manson is older, grumpier and not as cool as he was. In an age of perpetual online shock and controversy, these days, it takes a lot more to create a scandal. Fortunately for Brian, he’s also a great deal wealthier now. Marilyn Manson’s net worth currently stands at around $25 million. But how did he amass this sizable fortune?
The Rise of a Shock Rock Legend
The young Brian Warner didn’t start out with a burning ambition to become Marilyn Manson. In 1990, he was studying at a Community College in Florida and working for a music publication named 25th Parallel. His early ambition was to be a music journalist but, after spending time around rising stars like Trent Reznor, he was inspired to start his own band. This first band was Marilyn Manson and The Spooky Kids. It marked the first appearance of the stage moniker ‘Marilyn Manson,’ a portmanteau merger of Charles Manson and Marilyn Monroe. Already nurturing a desire for the spotlight, it’s clear Manson was driven and determined as a young man. The band was named for him and he would be its star.
The band’s first demo was released in 1990 and garnered Manson and his bandmates a modest degree of local success. In 1993, they were signed to a record label by none other than Trent Reznor, the lead singer of popular alt rock outfit Nine Inch Nails. At this point, the band’s name was changed to simply Marilyn Manson. Again, this is a good example of how comfortable Manson was with the spotlight and the notion of becoming a mega success.
Throughout the nineties, Marilyn Manson released four critically acclaimed albums – Portrait of an American Family, Smells like Children, Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals. They were followed by Holy Wood in 2000, the last in a tryptic of macabre and unsettling concept albums. New Kids on the Block they were not. And controversies roiled, toiled and bubbled to the point that Manson became ‘every parent’s worst nightmare.’
The Financial Value of Shock and Awe
Whether you love or hate Marilyn Manson, it’s hard to deny his authenticity. He is respected as a talented and innovative musician now but, at one point, politicians blamed his macabre lyrics for everything from teenage suicide to school shootings. In 1999, it was (erroneously, it turns out) linked to the Columbine shooters who were reported as fans of his music. It was enough to send to send conservative media into a frenzy with some dubbing Manson ‘an emissary of Satan.’ So, it’s fair to say this eloquent eccentric rose to the top the hard way. Over the years, he risked his career in countless ways in order to stay true to his beliefs and artistic principles. The point is, Marilyn Manson never expected to be a success.
He has always reveled in the limelight but it’s likely his commercial triumphs – and subsequent wealth – are a bit of a surprise even to him. Nevertheless, by the 2000s, Marilyn Manson was a household name and well on the way to that $25 million. There were a few setbacks; the collapse of Reznor’s music label and a high profile spat with record producer Jimmy Iovine earned Manson even more notoriety.
However, in many ways, it marked the beginning of an artistic rebirth for the musician, who had always expressed a love for art and cinema. In 2007, he created his own brand of absinthe. In 2009, he directed a short film. During his time away from music, there were books, movies and paintings – proof, if you ever needed it, that Manson is a genuine talent with a lot of diverse and interesting skills. Then again, what did you expect from the man who made controversy a valuable commodity?