Throughout his storied career, Sir Christopher Lee established himself as one of Britain's foremost thespians. From the Fifties through the Seventies, Lee emerged as one of Hollywood’s go-to villains in horror films such as The Curse Of Frankenstein (1957), Horror of Dracula (1958), Dracula: Prince Of Darkness (1966) and The Wicker Man (1973). In his later years, Lee reached a new generation when he played Saruman in the Lord Of The Rings series, as well as Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequel films.
But Christopher Lee will forever hold a special place in the hearts of headbangers across the globe for his enduring support of heavy metal — a passion he discovered late in life. In 2014, he told Metal Hammer, “About ten years ago I was approached by a band called Rhapsody as they wanted me to do some narration. The stories were very Lord Of The Rings-like. It is, of course, fantasy, which I love.”
In his 80s, Lee began working on a series of heavy metal albums. The first, Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross, won him the Spirit Of Metal Award at Metal Hammer’s 2010 Golden God Awards, with Hammer interviewing him alongside metal icon Tony Iommi backstage at the show. That album was followed by 2013’s Charlemagne: The Omens of Death. In 2014, at the age of 92, Lee released an EP called Metal Knight — a series of metal covers of old standards such as My Way and The Impossible Dream, from Don Quixote.
Lee passed away in 2015 at age 93. Along with a titanic body of work, Lee also left in his wake some cautionary advice to those interested in dark magic. He delivered this icy admonition in 2011, when he was awarded an Honorary Life Membership by the Law Society of University College Dublin.
During an audience Q&A, Lee is asked whether it was true that he owned one of the world’s largest collections of occult books. “I don’t,” interjects Lee. “Somebody wrote that I had 20,000 books. I don’t — I’d have to live in a bath!”
Addressing the rumour later, Lee says, “I don’t have a big library of the occult, no. Look, the Internet and the media, if they can’t think of something to do, they invent it. If they can’t think of something to say, they invent it. I don’t know who thought that one up. Looks good in print, I suppose, but it’s not true.”
Lee states that his collection of “occult” books is “maybe four or five,” and rattles off a couple of innocuous titles, including a copy of the 1934 horror novel, The Devil Rides Out, signed by author Dennis Wheatley. In 1968, Lee starred in a movie of the same name, based on that book. He also names a biography of Wheatley, titled The Devil Is A Gentleman: The Life And Times Of Dennis Wheatley. Lest anybody still harboured suspicions that Lee was some latter-day Aleister Crowley, he continues, “I have met people who claim to be Satanists, who claim to be involved with black magic, who claimed that they not only knew a lot about it. But as I said, I certainly have not been involved and I warn all of you — never, never, never. You will not only lose your mind, you lose your soul.”
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