Fans gather for anniversary of Morrison's death

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The Independent Online

"It's like visiting a monument," said the giant Dutchman, his "Lizard King" T-shirt half obscuring his tattoo of the word "Jim". The monument was a simple gravestone adorned with a wooden cross and the name James Douglas Morrison.

More than 300 people had crowded round, patiently waiting to take pictures of the stone and to lay their tributes – photos, poems, flowers and even cigarettes – on the grave.

Jim Morrison, the charismatic singer/songwriter of the the Doors, died 30 years ago yesterday in his bathtub in a Paris hotel and was buried in the cemetery of Père Lachaise. His fans have been making pilgrimages to the graveyard from all over the world ever since. Up to 20,000 fans were expected to file into the cemetery yesterday for the anniversary.

Richard Stone, 19, from Liverpool, had brought his guitar to play a tribute at Morrison's grave but could not get near enough for the crowds. "I'll come back tonight when it's quieter and play him a song as a thank you," he said.

Like Richard, many of the visitors were too young to remember Morrison but have been influenced by the music and by the memory of his raunchy, hedonistic personality. "Your sculpted hips and thighs wrapped in black leather", read one tribute poem addressed to "Beautiful Jim" by Claudia from Rio.

Morrison's grave, once claimed by fans to be the fourth most visited tourist site in Paris, has caused controversy in the past. Obsessive fans would daub graffiti over neighbouring tombstones. There are also unfounded rumours that his remains are to be removed to another cemetery.

Fearing trouble for the anniversary, police checked bags for alcohol at the cemetery entrances, but otherwise their only task was preventing people from standing on tombs to get a better view. "They have been very orderly, very well behaved," said a policeman. "Before we had trouble from drunks or people who didn't like him, but today no problems."

Clare Pigeon, 44, from Margate, Kent, had come to the cemetery to see the other famous graves, including those of Oscar Wilde and Edith Piaf, but was drawn out of curiosity to the crowd. "I wanted to see why all these people came from so far away for a man who's been dead for 30 years," she said.

"It's because he hit on something universal," suggested Stephanie Cater, 39, from the United States. "The music is for everyone, you can lose yourself in his words." She grew up listening to The Doors and now owns a vintage clothing store in Indiana, where she plays their music to an appreciative clientele. "I've always been a dropout at heart," she said with a smile, and went to lay a cigarette on the tomb.