Pilgrims mark 40 years since Jim Morrison's death
In a Paris cemetery, hordes of fans paid rock 'n' roll homage to Jim Morrison Sunday 40 years after his death, though most were not born when The Doors' singer was found dead in his bath in 1971.
The usual trickle of visitors to the corner of the Pere Lachaise cemetery widened to a flood as rock pilgrims came from far away to stand in awe at Morrison's grave, decked with flowers and candles and protected by barriers.
"I've spent half my life thinking about Jim Morrison. He was more than just a singer," said David Martin, who came from northern Italy with a group of friends in their thirties.
"We were here for the 30th anniversary. We'll be here again for the 50th."
Wild and charismatic with long curly hair, Morrison was a unique rock superstar, his voice a rumbling growl over Robby Krieger's guitars and Ray Manzarek's spiralling psychedelic organ.
Manzarek and Krieger were due to play at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris on Sunday evening. They visited the grave on Sunday morning.
"It was very moving. People were crying. Everyone applauded them," said one onlooker, Catherine Dalencon, 50.
The Doors created some of the anthems of rock, such as "Riders on the Storm," "People are Strange" and "Light My Fire".
"None of it is dated. His music, his words, his message -- everything about Jim Morrison is up to date," said another of the Italian visitors, Vanni della Zanna, in a black T-shirt bearing today's date and that of his idol's death.
Eric Vermeulen, 49 and his wife Pascale, 45, came from Belgium with their son.
"In our bedroom there are no pictures of our children. There is Jim," said Pascale.
"It was impossible to miss this... Jim Morrison is God to him," she said of her husband. "He hopes to go to Hell when he dies. That way he can have a drink there with Jim."
Alcohol and drugs disrupted The Doors and Morrison broke from the group, fleeing from the United States, where he faced charges of public indecency, to Paris to live with his girlfriend Pamela Courson.
Alcoholic and obese, he was found there in his bathtub on July 3, 1971, dead aged 27 of a suspected heart attack -- but there was never an autopsy, giving rise to multiple conspiracy theories.
He was buried four days later in Pere Lachaise in the company of literary greats such as Marcel Proust and Oscar Wilde.
A 17-year-old visitor to the grave, Corentin Naveau, said he felt "out of step" with other teenagers in admiring the 1960s icon.
His friend Antoine Thomas, also 17, added: "We are nostalgic for an era we never knew."
© 2011 AFP