You might remember British actor Christopher Lee—who recently passed away at the age of 93—as Dracula. Or perhaps for his role as Count Dooku in the Star Wars franchise. Or as Saruman in The Lord of the Rings. Or as Bond villain Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun.
But Sir Christopher Lee wasn’t just a beloved actor, a dedicated military man, and the alternative girl’s ultimate GILF. When the iconic actor passed away at 93 on June 7, he left behind more than an impressively stacked resume of villainous roles. Beginning in his 80’s, Lee put his prop robes and access to unlimited fake blood to good use as a geriatric heavy metal god. Choosing satanic odes over an AARP membership, the prolific Lee released two albums in quick succession: 2010’s Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross and 2013’s Charlemagne: The Omens of Death. The latter record came out when Lee was 91 years old, which really puts D’Angelo’s inability to release two albums in one decade into perspective.
While most men in their 90’s might stop after releasing two heavy metal albums to take a nap or watch golf, Sir Christopher Lee was too much of a badass for relaxation. Instead, he released three Christmas-themed metal EP’s three years in a row, starting with 2012’s Jingle Hell—a lighthearted holiday romp through the inferno that earned Lee the title of oldest living artist to enter the UK Billboard charts. Impressive, sure, but did Lee create any highbrow work that pushed the boundaries of the heavy metal genre itself? Great question, and look no further than the 2014 EP Metal Knight, a Don Quixote-inspired concept album that explored the rich intersection between the literary world and strident noise.
Before giving in to total metal madness, Lee lent his beautiful basso profundo to a number of films. Lee also released an opera album, Revelation, and worked as a guest vocalist for power metal bands including Rhapsody of Fire, Manowar, and Inner Terrestrials. And he may very well be the only knighted Englishman to have also been honored with Metal Hammer’s Spirit of Medal award. Unsurprisingly, the singer formerly known as Saruman was a huge hit in the heavy metal community. Judas Priest’s Rob Halford exclaimed, “He’s amazing. He’s incredible.” Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner added, “He embodies the whole spirit of metal.”
“What I sing is symphonic metal,” Lee told an applauding crowd at University College Dublin in 2011. “So, it is actually very, very good indeed. Very, very good...I received the Golden God award from Tony Iommi, who founded Black Sabbath.”
Lee has spoken at length about his choice to pursue acting over singing, proclaiming, “It was a great dream of mine, but I never became a singer. And I greatly regret it, because I was given this gift.”
While career regrets are common enough, few people can claim that they actually took advantage of their late-life crisis to finally live their dream. To help you better appreciate Lee’s badassery, here’s the music video for his 2012 song “The Bloody Verdict of Verden,” in which he brandishes a sword and sings about “shed[ding] the blood of the Saxon men”:
R.I.P., Sir Christopher Lee—Valhalla doesn’t know what’s about to hit it.