“We were hiding in the shower and it was really eerie.” Metallica’s Robert Trujillo once hid from a Manson Family shootout

Photos of Metallica's Robert Trujillo and Charles Manson
(Image credit: Metallica: Christian Petersen/Getty Images | Charles Manson: John Malmin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Robert Trujillo has revealed he once had to hide from a Manson Family shootout.

The Metallica bassist, 59, told Time To Relax, the podcast of punk icons The Offspring, that he and his family hid in the shower while Charles Manson’s cult had an altercation with the Los Angeles Police Department following their leader’s arrest.

“Charlie Manson just had gotten arrested,” Trujillo said (transcribed by Metal Injection).

“I am in Hawthorne, California. I’m staying at my grandma’s house. […] The gun shop, the army surplus shop around the corner on Hawthorne Boulevard, was robbed. And basically, the Manson family had this grand scheme. You can check it out on the Internet. They were gonna rob the gun store and get their ammo and everything, and they were gonna go to LAX [Los Angeles International Airport], and the plan was hijack a 747 and demand that Charlie gets sent to them, and they’re gonna take this plane to God knows where.”

The bassist continued: “This is what they were thinking. Obviously, the plan didn’t work. Cops show up. There’s a shootout. We’re hearing gunshots, the whole deal. All of a sudden you get the ghetto birds [police helicopters], and they’re flying around. They’re talking through their kind of intercom, whatever they got going up there: ‘Everybody, take cover’, whatever. And so my dad turns off all the lights. We're hiding in the shower. And it was really eerie.”

The altercation between the cult and the LAPD occurred on August 21, 1971. Four of Charles Manson’s followers were ultimately found guilty of robbing a Western Surplus Store and engaging in a shootout with 30 police officers. They were also found guilty of robbing a Covina beer distributorship of $2,600 eight days prior.

Manson was put on trial in 1970, alongside three of his followers, for the murders of actress Sharon Tate on August 9, 1969, and supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary the following day. A jury found the defendants guilty and sentenced them to death. The sentence was altered to life imprisonment when California abolished the death penalty in 1972.

Manson died in prison of natural causes on November 19, 2017, aged 83.

Metallica are currently promoting their 2023 album 72 Seasons on the M72 world tour, where they play two sets on two different days at every city they visit. They will play St Louis, Missouri, on November 3 and 5, then Detroit, Michigan, on November 10 and 12, before touring mainland Europe and more of North America in summer 2024.

Metal Hammer attended the first date of the M72 tour in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Editor Eleanor Goodman wrote of the show: “Unlike the fake accident on their Poor Touring Me run, or the drones on the WorldWired… Tour, there are no gimmicks tonight. Just a band playing classic songs, with the people they love.”

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.