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Crowds say farewell to Hungarian pop king

BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Thousands of Hungarians gathered for the funeral of pop idol Jimmy Zambo, who shot himself earlier this month.

Zambo, 42, who was known by his fans as the "King," died on January 2 after shooting himself in the head with a pistol in his home.

All his albums were top-sellers in Hungary and he had been top of the local charts for weeks with his "Christmas with Jimmy" album.

Fans crammed Budapest's Csepel Island on Saturday for his funeral.

His widow said Zambo was angered by a cock's crowing early on January 2. He leaned out of a window and fired two shots with his pistol, apparently to scare it away.

Then, to show his wife there were no more bullets in the weapon, he put it to his head and pulled the trigger. A coroner gave a verdict of accidental death.

Zambo's body was laid out in state in the Greek Catholic church of Csepel on Friday, where 30,000 people paid tribute before the funeral service at noon on Saturday.

The small church, built partly with money donated by Zambo, was packed with family members and friends.

Thousands more watched on a giant screen in the churchyard and nearby streets despite the freezing cold.

Countless wreaths and a crown on a scarlet cushion were carried on hearses to the graveside with his coffin, and 2,500 doves were released as the coffin was lowered into the grave.

"He was the greatest artist, the greatest singer and composer in the world," said Ilona Nagy, 58, a devoted fan.

"It must be a bad dream, and we must wake up soon, because I'm sure there will never be another such artist," she added.

"He was like a good friend, he gave us hope and happiness with his songs," said Istvan Major, 73, who arrived with his wife from Pecs, 210 km (130 miles) south of Budapest.

"In this tough world, we all need love and nice words."

Reuters contributed to this report.

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