The chances of somebody never having seen Christopher Lee in a movie may be virtually impossible. The 93 year-old-actor, who died Sunday in London, was a veteran of the big screen, whose life achievements can easily be seen in his long repertoire of films. Lee covered all of the basics during his career. He appeared in classic stories like Dracula (1970) and The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), and he would carry his villainous streak over to such roles as James Bond‘s nemesis in The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) to Count Dooku in George Lucas’s latest Star Wars trilogy, to the dark-wizard Saruman in director Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings series. Some music fans may even recognize him on the cover of Paul McCartney’s most popular post-Beatles ablum Band on the Run alongside McCartney and Wings and actors James Coburn (The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven), and Kenny Lynch, among others. In later years Lee would also collaborate regularly with director Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns) on such films as Sleepy Hollow and Alice in Wonderland, and he was knighted in his home country of England in 2009. He leaves behind his wife of 50 years Birgit Kroencke and their daughter Christina. May he rest in peace.
If you want a reason to support your local and underground artists like we make a point of doing here on MADE, here’s another you can add to your list. Fifty years ago a guy named Paul McCartney formed a rock n’ roll band with John Lennon that called themselves The Beatles, and wrote a catalogue of songs that would set and influence record sales for the remainder of the twentieth century. John Lennon was killed in 1980, at which time McCartney became the only living composer of the majority of The Beatles music, but since 1985 the singer/songwriter has seen virtually no revenue from sales, covers, or modernized use of Beatle music ranging from The Beatles Rock Band to director Julie Taymor’s psychedelic-60s musical Across The Universe. That’s because the rights to most of those songs were purchased by pop star Michael Jackson in 1985, when he paid $47.5 million for the Associated Television Corporation‘s backlog of record music, including countless Beatles songs. The kicker is that the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 stipulates that the rights to all songs written before 1978 (those that are copyrighted by a record label at least) will go back to the songwriters after a period of 56 years, so even though he went through a fairly bitter feud with Jackson over the rights to the music (which lead to an ultimate falling out), McCartney would still most likely not have been able to acquire the rights to his music before 2018 anyway. Sony Music purchased half of the rights from the Michael Jackson Estate in 2005 for $95 million, so they have and will continue to cash in on them until that time, but 2018 is only four years away now, so McCartney is about to really cash-in. The point is, record companies have been corporately running the major music industry since the time of The Beatles, and they continue to turn an otherwise great industry that has the power to bring popular art to the masses into a financial prison fenced in by clauses in contracts that turns otherwise great collaborators into business adversaries. We are here to support the artists who have found a way of sharing and promoting their work without the restraints and bullshit financial bickering that has ruined so many great musical acts in the past Keep supporting our local artists here on MADE!