As a band, Marilyn Manson got their start in Quenel, Florida in 1990 as Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids. Marilyn Manson's early presentation had a more comic-bookish, Scooby Doo-style than the dark, brooding style of their later image.
The band received little attention outside Florida until they were noticed by Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor. Marilyn Manson's first CD, Portrait of an American Family was released on Reznor's Nothing Records label.
The band's lineup has changed several times since its inception, with the exception of Manson himself. The names of each original band member were created by combining the first name of a female pop culture icon and the last of a serial killer (though all the members thus far have been men). Manson's name combines the names of Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson.
The members of the band dress in often bizarre costumes, and have developed a devoted fan base both for their music and their sometimes shocking behaviour (see KISS and Alice Cooper).
Since 2002 Manson has been dating and living with Dita von Teese.
Manson's lyrics have frequently been called offensive and obscene, and in some American cities, protests and petitions have successfully had the group banned from performing. Following the Columbine High School massacre, there were accusations that gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were influenced by Manson's music (along with that of other bands in the gothic/industrial genre), despite statements by both Harris and Klebold that they were not fans of Manson. Out of respect for the victims, Manson canceled appearances in Denver until the 2001 Ozzfest. In Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore's film about the shooting, Moore interviewed Manson about the tragedy. Asked what he would say to the two if he had a chance to talk to them before the killings, Manson replied "I wouldn't say a single word to them, I would listen to what they have to say and that's what no one did."
Manson is often described as a follower and ordained minister of the Church of Satan. This, however, is not strictly true; he was appointed as honorary Reverend by late founder Anton LaVey. Unlike being an ordained minister, a Reverend of the Church of Satan is one who is revered by the Church for some reason - regardless of their connections to it -- while a priest or minister is one who dedicates their life to preaching the religion to others. Nevertheless, some fans refer to him as the Rev. Marilyn Manson.
Still, Manson's philosophy and behaviour on occasion seem anti-Christian (though this is not the same as being Satanic). On May 16, 2001, it was announced on the ReligionToday website that Manson planned to quote the Bible at his next concert, to "balance out" his violent lyrics, "so we can examine the virtues of wonderful 'Christian' stories of disease, murder, adultery, suicide and child sacrifice. Now that seems like entertainment to me." Christians have reportedly tried on occasion to let Manson know that they are praying for his salvation.
Manson is planning to release a greatest hits album in fall of 2004.