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Fans mark Jim Morrison's death



PARIS, France -- Hundreds of fans of rock star Jim Morrison have gathered at his grave to mark the 30th anniversary of his death.

The fans pressed round the small plot in Paris' Pere Lachaise cemetery on Tuesday where The Doors singer was buried after his death at the age of 27 in July, 1971.

Following skirmishes in previous years, French security guards were present as a mix of hippies, teenage fans and tourists took photos and laid wreaths at the grave, Reuters news agency reported.

As alcohol and music are banned from the cemetery, the mood was more that of an ordinary family funeral than a late 1960s "happening," Reuters said.

"Jim Morrison is a giant hero of modern times, a true rebel," Patrice Conus, 42, of Lausanne in Switzerland, wearing tight snakeskin-effect trousers and puffing tobacco from a large pipe, told Reuters.

"But this is a cemetery after all, people have got a right to their rest," added Conus of Pere Lachaise's other famous residents, including Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Moliere, Bizet and Chopin.

The Doors gained a string of international hits with their hard-edged mix of electronic blues and West Coast psychedelic sounds.

While tracks like "Light My Fire" were hymns to sexual abandon, "Unknown Soldier" was an anti-war protest song and other pieces delved into Morrison's eclectic interest in everything from Greek tragedy to ecology.

Morrison left the U.S. in early 1971 to settle in France to write poetry.

However, he was found dead in the bath of his Paris flat on July 3, apparently having succumbed to a lethal mix of alcohol, medication, drugs and asthma.

The French coroner's verdict of death by "natural causes" and his hurried burial have sparked cover-up theories ever since.

"I don't actually think he is in this grave," said Nyree Porter-Green, 28, from Britain's Isle of Wight, who said Morrison's life-long love of poetry and classic fiction had inspired her to take a university course in English literature.

Ten years ago, drunken French, British and German fans battered down the cemetery's gates as officials tried to usher them out at closing time.

Cemetery guards said they expected little trouble this year as visitor numbers had declined in recent years.

Speculation had recently emerged that the lease on Morrison's cemetery plot was to expire, forcing the transfer of his remains to the United States. Cemetery officials have denied this, saying he has a permanent place.

"It is totally unfounded," said Henri Beaulieu, assistant director with Paris' Central Cemetery Service, quoted by the Associated Press. "Jim Morrison isn't moving." About 1.5 million people visit the cemetery every year to see the famous graves.






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