Celebrated Rock Icon
Lead Singer for the Doors
Controversial Cemetery Tenant
USA Today and E! Online News report that officials at Pere
Lachaise Cemetery in Paris are denying reports that rock'n'roll icon,
Jim Morrison, will be evicted from his grave when his 30-year
lease expires come 2001. This will come as good news not only
to the dead icon, who would be forced to find new digs, but also
to the thousands of tourists who party there throughout the year.
Unfortunately, to curb the party atmosphere, reports are that around-the-clock
guards now patrol the area (see special report at below). In fact, my good
friends and fellow gravediggers Katie and Steve Nowik, who were just at Pere Lachaise
in June (2000), said that guards restrict any partying and tributes to Jim can
be only of the floral kind.
It's easy to see why Parisian officials are letting The Lizard King
remain. In recent years, Morrison's grave site has become an A-list
tourist attraction, second only to the Eiffel Tower. Up until 1998,
Morrison's fans were free to litter the grounds with
beer cans, wine bottles, marijuana roaches, used condoms, and panties, while covering
nearby tombs with layers upon layers of graffiti. So, it looks
like the longest grave side party on record has come to an end, with no chance
for a reprieve. The images below are from 1991, when visiting
Morrison's grave was more of a fun experience than a somber tourist
attraction. Maybe it's time for the United States to bring this expatriate
home....I envision a stately tomb in a New Orleans graveyard where a non-stop
celebration of Morrison and the Doors can carry on in a fashion Jim would have
been proud of!
|"Fighting the Devil Within" - A Greek
inscription on Doors' singer Jim Morrison's stone can figuratively
be translated as: "fighting the devil within." An appropriate
thought considering the personal demons Morrison fought which
led to alcohol and drug abuse. Pere-Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.
||"A Tomb With a View" - A photographer
takes advantage of a vacant tomb across from Morrision's gravestone.
|"Graffiti Wall" - When I visited
Morrison's grave on Halloween in 1991, I found over fifty "mourners"
milling about talking, drinking and taking photographs of each
other at the grave. Graffiti about the Doors and Morrison covered
the surrounding tombs, many of which were abandoned; no doubt
left empty by families tired of the continuous circus-like atmosphere.
The graffiti is removed annually.
Also positioned near the grave was an American-Indian
who seemed to keep a constant silent vigil. I found his presence
the most haunting as it conjured up memories of Morrison's spiritual
connection to American Indians. In the best-selling biography
"No One Here Gets Out Alive," Jerry Hopkins and Danny
Sugerman recount how a young Morrison believed a Pueblo Indian's
soul passed into his body after he witnessed a horrible roadside
accident outside Albuquerque, New Mexico.
|"False Prophet" - From the moment
tourists enter the main gate of Pere-Lachaise, they can follow
crudely drawn arrows - with the notation "Jim" etched
above them - on various gravestones enroute to Section Six where
Morrison is buried. A local man with greasy, matted hair and
glasses, sat nearest the gravestone, a position of high ranking.
I was told he sits at the grave nearly every day, rain or shine.
Like the others who come to honor Morrison, he placed his open
bottle of beer on the gravestone for a moment, then he indulged
in drinking it. This ritual took place countless times by the
other "mourners" during the 45 minutes I spent observing
the situation. Each of them offered Morrison's spirit a swig
before they drank.
Morrison Update by Gravedigger
In October, 1998, fellow Gravedigger Michele Lanci-Altomare
of Los Angeles visited Pere-Lachaise and Morrison's grave site.
Here's her report:
"No one was there when we arrived, EXCEPT
the newly placed eagle-eyed guard (who) stands watch, 24 - 7.
You cannot leave anything there except for flowers. My husband
was yelled at and told to dump his beer out, and put the empty
can in his back pack. He did so, after sharing a swig with Jim,
on the actual dirt part of his grave.
There is no trace of graffiti anywhere, except
an occasional arrow with Jim next to it--pointing
wherever. The entire place has been cleaned up, and fun is no
longer tolerated. It was really a let down, but I guess it's
because of all the defacement that went on all around his tomb.
The neighboring tombs had been abused terribly over the years,
and I guess that type of inconsideration is what ended Jim's
(Note from Grinny: My visit to Jim's grave in January,
2001 found no change in the status quo. The guard kept order while
fans flocked to the grave site.)
Please inform Grinny of any new
updates regarding this grave site or if you think America should bring Jim
home to rest! Thanks!
Back to Underground American
Michael Nejman | Gallery
| Cinematic Cemetery Moments | Loose
Dirt | Last Words | Dying
to Get In | DOA | Gift
Shop | UnDead Links | Credits
do ya' think?
Return to the Cemetery