Until 1996, the name of each member was originally created by combining the first name of an iconic female sex symbol and the last name of an iconic serial killer (e.g. Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson). The members of the band dress in outlandish makeup and costumes, and have engaged in intentionally shocking behavior both onstage and off. In the past, their lyrics often received criticism for their anti-religious sentiment and references to sex, violence and drugs. Their performances have frequently been called offensive and obscene, and, on several occasions, protests and petitions have led to the group being banned from performing.
As this controversy began to wane throughout the 2000s, so did the band's mainstream popularity. Despite this, Jon Wiederhorn of MTV.com, in June 2003, referred to Marilyn Manson as "the only true artist today". Marilyn Manson has garnered much success: four of the band's albums have been multi-platinum, and 2 more have been gold, and the band has seen seven of its releases debut in the top ten, including two number-one albums. VH1 has ranked Marilyn Manson as the seventy-eighth best rock band on their 100 Great Artists of Hard Rock. Aggregate site AcclaimedMusic.net lists Marilyn Manson number 723 in their artist rank for greatest of all time. Marilyn Manson has sold over 50 million records.
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