Sir Christopher Lee, Legendary Actor and Heavy Metal Performer, Dead at 93

Christopher Lee, the legendary actor who played Saruman in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels, died Sunday in a London hospital at age 93.

He had been in treatment for respiratory problems.

While he was best known to the general public for his film career—he appeared in an estimated 250 films—metal heads might know him for the work he did in that genre late in his life.

Lee released two full-length metal albums (2010's Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross and 2013's Charlemagne: The Omens of Death), two EPs of metal Christmas covers (2012's A Heavy Metal Christmas and 2013's A Heavy Metal Christmas Too) and a third, non-holiday-themed covers EP, 2014's Metal Knight.

For these releases, Lee collaborated with, among others, Italian symphonic metal band Rahpsody of Fire and guitar prodigy Hedras Ramos.

For Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross, Lee was awarded the "Spirit of Hammer" prize by Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi at Metal Hammer's Golden Gods awards in June 2010.

Lee remained active in metal virtually up until his death. In December he released "Darkest Carols, Faithful Sing," a heavy metal parody (of sorts) of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" featuring Ramos.

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Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player (opens in new tab). Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder (opens in new tab) and Unrecorded (opens in new tab). Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.