King Diamond is "honoured" to have inspired Metallica

King Diamond
(Image credit: Press)

With his iconic makeup, distinctive falsetto wail and OTT stage show, occult metal legend King Diamond is a genuine one-off – just ask famous fans Lars Ulrich, Jason ‘Jay And Silent Bob’ Mewes and Post Malone. The man born Kim Bendix Petersen has influenced countless bands and artists during his 40-plus year career, though there have been some hairy moments too – not least the triple bypass surgery he had in 2010 following a series of heart attacks. 

With his original band Mercyful Fate reunited and due to headline this year’s Bloodstock, we put your burning questions to him on everything from supernatural experiences to getting sued by Gene Simmons.

Metal Hammer line break

You were King from the beginning. Did you think about starting out with a less audacious title such as Baron, Viscount or Prince?

Jo Fleischer, Facebook

“Man, the name… it came from all the way back in Brainstorm [King’s first band]. People thought that people wouldn’t be able to pronounce our Danish names, because we were going to be huge! I don’t know how I came up with that name, but it stuck. It worked out pretty well.”

When will Mercyful Fate's new album be out?

@AnderschEric, Twitter

“King Diamond’s album will be out first. The label wanted that first and that’s what you’re going to get. It’s all a big push-back [because of Covid], but when we come back with Mercyful Fate we are going to be coming with new songs, and it’s going to be a production like you’ve never seen. So, King Diamond album first and then we’ll get down to business with Mercyful Fate.”

Who does your makeup and do you have any tips?

Sophie Miller, Facebook

“I’ve always done my makeup, from day one. The first video we did for [King Diamond’s 1987 single] The Family Ghost was in England, and we had hired two girls to do the makeup for me. I don’t think the label trusted me to get it right. So I was sat there in the chair and they were putting all this stuff on my face and it felt so weird, because I know my face and I know how to get it right. It went so wrong that halfway through I said, ‘Right, stop, this is a waste of time!’ and I rubbed it all off and did it myself.”

Have you ever seen a ghost?

Mark Peachy, Facebook

“I have many stories. Back in the early days of Mercyful Fate, my apartment in Copenhagen was haunted. Many people saw. I’ve never done drugs, so it wasn’t that - this was real stuff. And I have a photo of a ghost from when we played with Metallica in 2011. There were four of us hanging out in the bar. We took some pictures and when they came back there was this figure behind us that was totally see-through, wearing clothes from a completely different time. Very odd.”

How’s the old ticker these days? 

James Manon, email

“I just had my first quarterly. I want to do it quarterly, to keep tabs on it as much as possible. It’s perfect. Ever since my doctor gave me the regime that I’m on now, nothing has changed at all. So it’s working pretty well.”

King Diamond

(Image credit: Press)

When did you discover you could sing that high?

Oliver Fisher, Facebook

“It happened when an early fan told me I should work on my falsetto. He said the high notes really suit what we were doing; this was in an early version of Black Rose [King’s pre-Mercyful Fate band]. I didn’t really know what he was talking about, but I decided to try and give it a go. That fan is an important part of my career. I can still picture him now, I could draw him for you if you gave me a pencil, haha!”

What was it like to see yourself immortalised as a video game character on Guitar Hero: Metallica?

Dan Knight, email

“Surreal. Even though people have filmed shows and I’ve seen myself in videos, it was weird. There was a tiny bit of censorship involved, as you don’t see the cross on my forehead. It was very well done, fun to see, but I never played it myself. My wife got it and played it immediately until she could unlock me. It was just Lemmy and myself, an old friend. That was nice.”

Gene Simmons sued you for allegedly ripping off his makeup. Have you bumped into him since?

Eddie Cook, Facebook

“No, I haven’t. I think that would be a lot of fun. I have no outstanding stuff with him. There’s a lot of reasons why this happened: they’d dropped their makeup around this time, but they still had the copyright on the look. I was never influenced by them – my influences were Peter Gabriel and Alice Cooper. 

I said, ‘I don’t have a lot of money that you can sue me for, but you have a lot of money that other people can sue you for.’ They were not the first to wear makeup. It never got to be a lawsuit, it just got stirred up.”

Which band are you most proud of inspiring?

Andrew Kenny, Twitter

“Oh, there are many, but it has to be Metallica. They are the biggest metal band in the world, and for them to be inspired and to cover some of our songs, it’s a huge honour. Lars called me from their studio and said, ‘Want to hear something new?’ and he played me their Mercyful Fate medley and told me it was going to be on an album! Blown away. We’ve played it a few times with them, too.” 

Would you collaborate with a pop or hip hop star like Ozzy did with Post Malone? Who would you pick?

Stacey Graham, Facebook

“I never actually heard that song, but I did meet Post Malone backstage at a Slayer concert. It was funny, because he got a picture with me and I didn’t know who he was. It was only later that I found out he was this huge star, far bigger than I’ll ever be. I don’t know much about new music – the closest I’ll ever get is probably being on the Volbeat song Room 24. They are a fantastic band, I think their new album is the very best they’ve done.” 

When was the last time you spoke to Lars Ulrich? What did you talk about?

Peter Wade, email

“He came to my hotel in 2019 when we were on tour. It was right at the end, on Thanksgiving, and he had a big family dinner so he couldn’t come to the show. I came back to the hotel after the gig and I was taking my makeup off.  

My wife called over to me, ‘Hey, Lars is on the phone!’ I said, ‘No! At this time?!’ but it was him. He asked how the gig was and he said if I wasn’t doing anything he would come over to the hotel. So he just turned up at my hotel and we talked for a few hours, just about his family and how his kids are growing up. He’s a great guy, the same awesome person I met in 1984.”

Were you aware of Trivium when you did the song In The Fire with Matt Heafy for the Roadrunner United project?

Darren Sayers, Facebook

“I was not aware of them at the time, but I know Matt locked himself away and just studied Mercyful Fate for a few days before he wrote the song. He already knew a lot, but he really tried to suck in as much as he could of the style. He did a good job, it turned out well. I know them now and I think they’re a fantastic band.”

How do you feel about celebrities wearing metal t-shirts? Ever seen any wearing a Mercyful Fate shirt? 

James Freeman, email

“Oh, yes. The drummer from Blink 182 had one [Travis Barker]. Jason Mewes from Jay And Silent Bob has one on a lot – they used Welcome Home and The Invisible Guests in Clerks II. I met them on my tour in 2019, outside my hotel. We were checking out and they had just finished a show. 

There they were, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes coming out of the elevator. They had seen our flight cases so they knew King Diamond was in the hotel. I said, ‘Hey guys!’ And they said, ‘Are you with the King Diamond band?’ I said, ‘Kinda… this is King!’ They freaked out! It was very funny.”  

Mercyful Fate headline Bloodstock on Saturday August 13

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.