Varg Vikernes was born Christian Vikernes (according to several sources I have read) in Bergen, which is on the East coast of Norway. His childhood involved quite a bit of moving, even living in Iraq for about a year. His father was a strict man, and a violent drunk. He abused Varg's mother, sometimes with Varg watching. Eventually, back in Bergen, she left him. Varg lived with his mother and tried to never even talk to or think of his father, essentially denying that he even exists, though his father, from time to time has apparently tried to get in touch.
Varg was an introverted child, unwilling in school, and prone to day dreaming. His favorite book was The Lord of the Rings, though he claims that his favorite characters were the orcs, one of whom he would later use as his stage name: Grishnakh. He also would later use an Orcish word for his bands name: Burzum. This most who read this know. Varg also early on felt an affinity for the German Nazis, here from playing with toy soldiers. He grew obsessed with both Nazism and also with Lord of the Rings, escaping into his fantasy world. His mother claims he was a gentle child. When he grew into a teenager he became a skin-head, though as he got older and got into heavy metal he shed that image and world and grew his hair out (though he has returned to it off and on in prison).
In the late 80's early 90's he started in the music world, first in Old Funeral, before deciding to stick with his own project, Burzum. He eventually got wind of Oslo's Mayhem, and got in contact with them. He said he sent the ammo as a Christmas gift that would later be used by Dead to kill himself. After Dead's death Varg ended up moving to Oslo, rather than continue to take the long trip from Bergen every few weeks. Once there he stayed for a bit in the basement of Euronymous' music store Helveten, before finding his own place. He quickly became a major part of the developing scene around Mayhem, Euronymous and Helveten. He also became friends with Euronymous. His mother stated that he seemed almost in awe of Euronymous (who was older, and a mentor in many ways) when they first became friends. However Varg lived with Euronymous for a bit, and apparently realized that his hero was not as true as Varg had once thought. Varg displays consistently a lack of a sense of reality, seeming to believe everyone in the world conforms to his world view. Apparently to him Euronymous should have been consistently doing evil things and always living like death, or something like that. Unfortunately, as evil as Euronymous was, he wasn't quite as evil as Varg, which I think led to Varg feeling let down, like he could do better than Euronymous. This, as they say, was the beginning of the end.
Euronymous released Burzum's first few releases on his label Deathlike Silence, and at least when they first met Euronymous seemed to be a big fan of Varg's music. He even hired Varg to play bass for Mayhem's full length (though after the murder his tracks were wiped). However I think it was the Church Burnings that created the split. As most black metal fans know, Varg was quite instrumental in the beginning of the church burnings. However Varg was arrested about the burnings and managed to get himself out of it by lack of evidence. It is claimed that after this Varg felt like he was invincible, and this started to scare Euronymous. They were already falling out, and both became very suspicious of each other. Finally Varg heard rumours that Euronymous was planning on killing him. Euronymous probably was not going to, but Varg believed the rumours, and then about a week later he drove to Oslo from Bergen with a friend (and Mayhem member) Snorre Ruch.
Varg claims that he went there to talk to Euronymous and to sign a record deal that would officially make the split between Burzum and Deathlike Silence for later Burzum releases. However it is claimed that he had a friend set up back at his apartment to make it seem like he was at home. I don't know if this is true however, as Varg himself claims that everyone (including Snorre) are lying. Varg is very paranoid as well just to let you know. Anyways, Varg went into Euronymous' apartment, and there they had an argument. Snorre says he heard some yelling from inside the apartment from outside on the landing. However Euronymous ran out the door and down the stairs, with several knife wounds already. He fell down the last steps, and before he could get up Varg stabbed him several times. It should be noted that Euronymous was in his underwear at the time. Varg then stabbed him a few more times to make sure he was dead. Varg and Snorre then ran away and drove back to Bergen, stopping to throw the knife into a lake.
However Varg was arrested only a few days later. At his arrest, and Snorre's confessing Varg was put in jail and convicted. Due to his actions a great deal of light was brought upon the scene, resulting in Emperor's drummer Bard Eithun being arrested for his murder of a homosexual, and many of the major players being arrested and convicted for the Church arsons. Varg remained silent. He never confessed, never said a word at the trial. He was convicted for arson, murder and theft (he stole several hundred pounds of dynamite, for some reason), among other things. He got 21 years, the maximum sentence in Norway.
Varg has spent his years in jail writing, recording two Burzum keyboard-only albums and essentially those sorts of things you do in prison. He has been made a martyr by many in the scene, and a demon by the others. Many call him Cunt Grishfuck, to show their intelligence I'm sure. He is very good at history revisionism, saying he barely knew Dead one second, then saying he wrote to and hung out with Dead quite often the next. He also states he hated Euronymous from the second they met, which is totally untrue obviously. He also has made his racist, nationalist and very bigoted beliefs much more intense. Altogether the question a Burzum fan asks himself is this: can I ignore Varg the person, and in the end you don't ignore him, you simply accept him and then come to terms with him. However it is good to remember that when he recorded the early Burzum albums he wasn't as into the racist beliefs. It is easy to separate the two thankfully, as he never really let the racist ideology part infiltrate his music parts.
As far as I know Varg is not doing any more music, as the authorities had stopped letting him play music. He has escaped once, he was being allowed to go out of the prison for a day or half days at a time. On one of these trips he disappeared. Obviously it is assumed he was trying to escape. However he was found and is now stuck in prison. On that note a few years ago a group supporting him said they would attempt to release him, I don't know if the two are connected however. Now we will see how he behaves in roughly 10 years when he is released. His NHF (National Heathen Front) will probably become more important, and who knows, perhaps he will continue his terrorist operations. Maybe he'll make new music. Who knows, only time will tell.
(There you go, until someone better comes along, here's my introduction to Varg's life. If you want more info go to burzum.org and go to the Library section, there you will find plenty of excellent reading about Varg and Burzum.)
Editor's note: Varg was paroled from prison in 2010. He's begun a new project, Belus, and seemingly abandoned the Burzum name for now. An interview about his recent activities is available.