CHRISTOPHER von DIETLER aka FRATER ZARDOZ
(1954 - 2008)
This photo was taken by Benjamin Hance last year at The Feast for the Writing of The Book of the Law in 2007 which was held at his apartment. I am second from the right. Chris is 2nd from the left.
An early photo of Kenneth Anger with Zardoz & his wife
IN MEMORY OF AN OLD FRIEND
Photo was taken
by Benjamin Hance who was up visiting Chris in Sacramento on Thursday April 10th, five days before he passed away.
For OTO historians the name Boleskine House OTO in Sacramento is legendary during
the life of Grady Louis McMurtry. Sadly, its founder and my old friend, Christopher von Dietler aka Zardoz,
passed away Wednesday April 16th 2008 at 4:18pm after a tragic battle with liver disease and then liver failure.
I was told: “Apparently he went in his sleep and was not in pain while at home
with his sister and long term girlfriend Kathleen.”
The original Boleskine House OTO Charter issue by Grady Louis McMurtry on May 9th 1981
An early photograph of Boleskine OTO,
Zardoz is sitting front right
This is the back page of a book Zardoz gave to J.Edward Cornelius in which he inscribed a poem.
"The world was brighter having known your smiles ... "
Christopher Dietler (aka Frater Zardoz IV° P.I.) is the man who released the 23 minute Lucifer Rising music soundtrack prepared by Jimmy Page for an avant-garde film titled Lucifer Rising produced by filmmaker Kenneth Anger. The album, officially titled Kenneth Anger's Lucifer Rising Jimmy Page Soundtrack, was released on Dietler's own Boleskine House Records label on January 9, 1987.
The album is a 12-inch 45 RPM EP limited edition pressing (1,000 copies) on clear blue vinyl. Dietler met Anger at a showing of the film in Sacramento, California in the early 1980s, and eventually purchased one of only four remaining prints of the film from Anger. Dietler then had the sountrack professionally transferred from the 16mm film and digitally enhanced at the Golden Goose Recording Studio run by Dennis Rose in Los Angeles, California. There was a press release in Billboard Magazine on December 20, 1986, a newspaper article printed in The Sacramento Bee, written by columnist David Barton on May 24, 1987 and an interview with Dietler on a local college radio station. MTV aired his projected album release on their news segment The Week In Rock on December 23, 1987 hosted by VJ of the day Carolyn Heldman. The experimental instrumental soundtrack was recorded sometime between the performance of Led Zeppelin at Madison Square Garden on July 29, 1973 and the launch of their own record label Swan Song Records on May 10, 1974. Various published reports list this undertaking by Page during November 1973. However, due to a much publicized dispute between Anger and Page over the completion of the recording, Page's soundtrack was dropped from the film and instead musician Bobby Beausoleil, a former lieutenant of the Manson family, was commissioned and completed the soundtrack from his Tracy State Prison cell. Anger premiered the initial film rushes at a movie theatre in Los Angeles during September 1976 where the soundtrack was recorded, then released on a bootleg album titled Solo Performances. Dietler successfully applied and obtained United States copyrights on both the film and soundtrack. Dietler also founded the local Carmichael chapter of the Ordo Templi Orientis titled Boleskine O.T.O. and was expelled from this organization for advertising the album in their newsletter. The organization felt Dietler left them open to a libelous situation with Page or Anger. A lawsuit filed by Kenneth Anger against Christopher Dietler effectively dissolved the O.T.O.'s involvement with his dozen-or-so member Carmichael, California chapter.
J. Edward Cornelius with an original 'un-opened' copy of Zardo's album.
CARMICHAEL MAN DELVES INTO LED ZEPPELIN STAR'S PAST
The SACRAMENTO BEE (CA) May 24th 1987
By David Barton
Jimmy Page, the guitarist and producer who piloted Led Zeppelin to the status of most popular rock group of the '70s, has long had an interest in the occult. One form that interest took was Page's work on the sound track to the film ''Lucifer Rising'' by Kenneth Anger. Page worked for three years on the sound track, coming up with 23 minutes of music, which had not been captured on vinyl. Until now, that is. Christopher Dietler of Carmichael has taken the sound track off an original print of the Anger film and has pressed a record that he is selling through the mail and at small area record stores. This move has earned him some notoriety, including the disapproval of the O.T.O. The what? The Ordus Templar Orientis -- Order of the Templars of the East, a small esoteric order of magi... But we're getting ahead of ourselves here. This story begins more than a decade ago and involves some mysterious and even notorious characters. In fact, the story of how the film and music were made and how it all ended up in Carmichael, Calif., is more interesting than the music itself. Page's interest in the esoteric focused on Aleister Crowley, the English magician who dubbed himself "the Beast 666" and reveled in contemporary newspaper descriptions of himself as "the wickedest man alive." After his death in 1947, two dozen of his followers (who call themselves Thelemites) continued to espouse Crowley's philosophy as expressed in creeds such as "The key to joy is disobedience" and "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." Many Thelemites were members of the O.T.O., a group of occult adepts formed in 1902, which Crowley took over late in his life. The most famous of Crowley's disciples is Page, though Sting is also reportedly interested and even the Beatles included his picture on the cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Page at one time owned Crowley's Equinox Bookstore in London, owns the second largest Crowley book collection in the world and to this day owns and occupies Boleskine House, Crowley's home/temple on the shores of Loch Ness in Scotland. Trivia fans will note that Crowley's admonition "Do What Thou Wilt" is engraved in the inner groove of "Led Zeppelin III." So when filmmaker Kenneth Anger, best known as writer of the lurid expose ''Hollywood Babylon,'' asked Page in 1973 to create a sound track for a film based on Crowley's poem "Hymn to Lucifer", Page jumped at the chance. But in 1973, Led Zeppelin was at the height of its considerable fame. Page's work for "Lucifer Rising" dragged on and on, until Anger finally fired him when Page delivered only 23 minutes of music in 1976. The soundtrack was heard by the film buffs who have seen the film, but few of Page's fans have heard the music. Dietler hopes to change that by making the sound track more widely available. But how did a state worker who lives in Carmichael with his wife and two kids end up releasing a legendary recording by one of the giants of contemporary music? As a Zeppelin fan, Dietler had heard of the sound track and contacted Anger. According to Dietler, Anger told him he had lost the original master tapes. So Dietler got the filmmaker to sell him one of what are ostensibly the only four prints of "Lucifer Rising". Dietler had a friend remaster the sound track from the film and had it pressed onto vinyl. The first 1,000 copies of the EP are pressed on blue vinyl, have a cover that features a gallery of Page and Crowley photos and is given an issue number, all of which Dietler says justifies the record's $20 price tag. But even at that whopping price, Dietler said he has sold more than 300 copies in a month, including one to producer and Zeppelin fanatic Rick Rubin. Dietler says that future pressings will be offered at a lower price. The record's music is its least interesting aspect, which perhaps explains why Page never bothered to bring it out himself. On it, he plays a guitar run through an early ARP synthesizer, the precursor to the contemporary guitar synthesizer. The music is a series of drones, a few chants, all of it murky, something like the sounds from "In the Light" or "Kashmir" from the Led Zeppelin album "Physical Graffiti", but not as well orchestrated. It is not Led Zeppelin. But it matches the film well. In "Lucifer Rising", images linger and blend as actors playing Egyptian gods Isis and Osiris signal to each other across the Valley of the Kings, while other scenes show Lilith (played by singer Marianne Faithfull) climbing through ancient ruins as occult symbols flash on the screen. Later, Anger himself does a dance to summon Lucifer, who appears wearing a satin tour jacket with his name emblazoned across his back. Page also appears for a split second in the film, holding an ancient stone tablet called the Stele of Revealing and looking at a wreathed photograph of Crowley. The still appears on the cover of Dietler's record. Page's label, Atlantic Records, didn't know about Dietler's records, and issued a simple "no comment". Page's management in London also declined to comment. Dietler hasn't heard from Page, but he has heard from the O.T.O. The Order has expelled Dietler and dissolved the dozen-member Carmichael chapter. "They were afraid of Page," said Dietler, "They were afraid that I had left them in a libelous situation by advertising the record" in the O.T.O.'s newsletter. O.T.O. Treasurer Bill Heidrick, of the Berkeley chapter (the Order has 800 members in 17 countries) agrees with that, but puts the onus on Dietler. "He's not much of a business man," said Heidrick. Heidrick says that Dietler has no written permission from either Page or Anger, though he once claimed he did. Instead, Heidrick said, Anger sold Dietler the film on the condition that he not use the sound track. Dietler denied this, saying that had read that Page wouldn't mind if Anger put out a sound track. Heidrick noted that this hardly constitutes permission. Anger has been unavailable for comment. Complicating the issue is Mystic Fire Video, a company co-owned by the head of the O.T.O. (who Heidrick would not name). Mystic Fire recently acquired the rights to the Anger films on video. So, according to Heidrick, Dietler is not only using the music without Page's permission, he also has a potential copyright conflict with the head of the O.T.O. But while Dietler's esoteric activities have been nipped in the bud by the O.T.O., and copyright problems are still a threat, he has more plans for Zeppelin products. An avid collector of Zeppelin bootlegs, memorabilia and concert videotapes, Dietler plans to make a historical compilation of Zeppelin footage culled from tapes that include Scandinavian television performances from the group's first tour in '68, as well as promotional videos of everything from "Communication Breakdown" on, wary of selling a "bootlegged" product. The album does not work as a piece of music, but that won't matter to many Page fans, who are notorious collectors on the level of Beatles or Grateful Dead fans. In the meantime, Dietler also has no plans to release the sound track to "Lucifer Rising, Part Two" (1980), a 45-minute film with sound track by a group under the direction of another famous personality: the Freedom Orchestra, recorded in Tracy Prison under the leadership of Charles Manson's lieutenant Bobby Beausoleil.
"Timor mortis morte pejor"
The Feat of death is worse than death"
So what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
"Now know this also, that at the End of that secret Way lieth a Garden,
wherein is a Rest House prepared for thee." (Liber CXI, cap.18)
It is with some sadness that I write this eulogy for Christopher Dietler; Fr.Zardoz. Good luck to you in your greater feast and your travels in the embrace of Nuit. Chris chose to "Live Dangerously ... Die thou standing!" (Liber CXI, cap.46). Chris, and his Boleskine Chapter, was my introduction into O.T.O. (and subsequently the A.'.A.'.) To the end he remained a Thelemic warrior and a touchstone to the days of Grady McMurtry; Fr. Hymenaeus Alpha. I was lucky enough to see Chris on 10 April 2008 e.v., where we read the third chapter of Liber AL and reminisced of old times. He was the gracious host and a good time was had by all. I am reminded of Rabelais' last words - "tirez le rideau, la farce est jouee" or "ring down the curtain, the farce is over." You will be missed my friend.
Love is the law, love under will.
Yours in the bonds of Nuit, Benjamin Hance, Fr. Petros
FROM MY BLOG:
Sunday April 20th 2008 – 7:10am I received this email from Andy West of Sacramento – “Jerry 93, Just writing to give appreciation for all the attention given to Zardoz, my brief story on knowing him, and a slight correction. First, the correction: I saw him a few times before the end and he actually was suffering from liver disease and then liver failure from all the years of hard partying, not cancer. Second, my story: I met Chris a few years ago when I was working at a video store in North Highlands. I looked over the counter and saw some guy I took for a crazy social security recepient leaning up against it and talking on his cell phone. He starts talking about how his girlfriend is seeing a Reichian Kundalini yoga instructor and my eyebrows perk up a bit. Then he mentions Aleister Crowley. I can't keep my mouth shut any longer. "Hey, man, you're into Aleister Crowley?" I say. He puts down the phone and looks at me a little shocked and says "Yeah I'm into Aleister Crowley. Do you know the O.T.O.?" "Yeah. I'm a member of the Lodge in town." I reply. "Let me call you back." he tells the person on the other end of the phone, then he stands a little straighter and says "I'm Frater Zardoz." My jaw drops "You're Zardoz? Man, you're a fucking legend!" He wasn't a crazy on social security, he was a brilliant legendary Thelemite crazy on social security! And thats how Zardoz and I met and became friends. He was a great guy to hang out with. He always had some wild story to tell or a video to show, and at least as far as I was concerned, a kind heart. He created videos using clips of demons and Templars from various movies synched up with 60's and 70's rock songs that he liked to show. If he'd been born later I'm sure they would have been great youtube fare. He also created the most hideous porn film I have ever seen in my life and that's saying something seeing as the video store I met him at was practically a front for a porn shop. The second to the last time I saw him he showed Frater Orpheus and I how he discovered the Led Zeppelin III logo, when turned upside down and placed in front of a mirror, reveals a 666. He also graced us with a harmonica performance played along with Robert Plant on "How The West Was Won". On the last day he was in some pain and you could tell he was hallucinating a bit from the toxins his liver wasn't processing but he was cognizant during the ceremony Robert, Ben and I performed for him. He was visibly happier and more at peace afterward and I was glad to have had the chance to play a small role in that for him. He's most remembered for Lucifer Rising but he also is responsible for three of the best photographs of Grady that exist. He showed Orpheus and I a few on our second to last visit and they are beautiful. Hopefully in the settling of his estate they will find their way into the right hands. I'll miss him, but every time I hear Led Zeppelin play I smile a little wider for having known him. 93, 93/93 – Andy.” …… Reply: Thanks for sharing the memories. I've known Chris for ages; we first corresponded back in the early 1980s. He was a character; true to himself and Thelemic to his soul.
Thursday April 24th 2008 – 5:00am Robert Flores of the Aum Ha Clerk House sent the following email yesterday about Zardoz's funeral, part of which I’d like to share. He writes, “Just wanted to let you know that Chris's funeral was yesterday at 11am. It was a very nice ceremony with many friends and family present. Andy and I went together. We were able to clear up some details; 1) his name was actually Christopher Von Dietler and 2) he actually died on Wednesday the 16th, which was the day I was first called by his girlfriend but she just was understandably a little unclear. It was a closed casket event so we could not see our brother but Kathleen told me that Chris was wearing some of his regalia (his jewel). It was an honor to give Chris his last "Rites" and clearly this meant much to him. I met both of his parents and his son wore his Dad's favorite leather jacket. Many stories were shared and Chris's father talked about how Chris would all want us to be celebrating his death and he shared a letter that Chris had written him as a young man. Essentially the letter was to inform his parents that he was leaving town to catch a rock festival on film and they are not to worry about him or try to find him, I am still trying to get a copy, but the part that hit home with me is when Chris wrote that as an artist he was a slave to it's call and he had no other recourse but to follow his calling ... a Thelemite to the core.” …… Reply: It is deeply appreciated to be kept in the loop.