Italy's heavy metal monk retires from the limelight

Fri Nov 13, 2009 12:29pm EST
 
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MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's "Brother Metal," a 63-year-old monk who became famous for singing in a heavy metal band -- habit and all -- is hanging up his microphone, saying the devil made him too much of a celebrity for his own good.

The white-bearded Cesare Bonizzi, a Capuchin who recorded CDs for a punk label and was the lead singer for the band Fratello Metallo (Metal Brother), said the devil was up to his usual mischief.

"The devil has separated me from my managers, risked making me break up with my band colleagues and also risked making me break up with my fellow monks. He lifted me up to the point where I become a celebrity and now I want to kill him," the monk said in his farewell video.

The video shows one of the monk's band members shaving off Bonizzi's long mane of white hair as a sign of his turning a new leaf on life.

For years Bonizzi performed at concerts wearing his traditional Franciscan brown robe, sandals and white rope around his waist.

His second heavy metal CD was called "Mysteries," and was inspired by a group of southern Italian women who sang about the Virgin Mary.

Bonizzi, who fell in love with heavy metal when he attended a Metallica concert some 15 years ago, says fame had put him on the wrong path. But he still thinks heavy metal can be a means to spread the gospel message of pace and love.

"I think that metal is the strength of music itself. Metal is a brother," he said in the video.

(Reporting by Antonio Denti; writing by Philip Pullella)

 
<p>Friar Cesare Bonizzi (R), also known as Fratello Metallo (Metal Friar), sings with his group during a rehearsal session in downtown Milan in a July 10, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo/Files</p>