Portrait of an American Family is the debut studio album by American rock band Marilyn Manson, released on July 19, 1994 by Nothing and Interscope Records. The group was formed in 1989 by vocalist Marilyn Manson and guitarist Daisy Berkowitz, whose names were created by combining the given name of a pop culture icon with the surname of a serial killer: a naming convention which all other band members would conform to for the next seven years.
The band’s highly visualized concerts earned them a loyal fanbase in the South Florida punk and hardcore music scene, eventually gaining the attention of Nine Inch Nails vocalist Trent Reznor, who signed them to his Nothing Records vanity label. The album was initially produced by Roli Mosimann at Criteria Studios in Miami under the title The Manson Family Album. However, the band was unhappy with his production, and this material was then re-produced and remixed in various Los Angeles recording studios by Manson and Reznor, along with assistant producers Sean Beavan and Alan Moulder. Parts of the album were re-recorded at Reznor’s home studio at 10050 Cielo Drive, where members of the Manson Family committed the Tate murders in 1969.
Gidget Gein was not invited to the L.A. recording sessions. He had been fired from the band in late 1993 due to his ongoing addiction to heroin, and was replaced by Twiggy Ramirez. Despite this, Gein is credited with performing the entirety of the bass work on the album, while the majority of Sara Lee Lucas’ live drumming was replaced with electronic drum programming from Nine Inch Nails keyboardist Charlie Clouser. The record contains a wide array of cultural references; Interscope delayed its release on several occasions due the inclusion of references to Charles Manson, and also because of objections to its controversial artwork.
Portrait of an American Family was released to limited commercial success and mostly positive reviews; in 2017, Rolling Stone deemed the album one of the greatest in the history of heavy metal music. The group embarked on several concert tours to promote the release, including appearing as an opening act on Nine Inch Nails’ ”Self Destruct Tour”, as well as the ”Portrait of an American Family Tour”. ”Get Your Gunn” and ”Lunchbox” were issued as commercial singles, while ”Dope Hat” was released as a promotional single. The record was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in 2003 for shipments of over 500,000 units in the United States.