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Fans flock to Jim Morrison's grave

PARIS, France -- Thousands of fans have gathered at Doors singer Jim Morrison's Paris grave to mark the 30th anniversary of his death.

On alert for the trouble that has marred previous anniversaries, French security guards hovered as aging hippies, teenage fans and bemused-looking tourists took photos and laid wreaths at his modest plot in Pere Lachaise cemetery.

But with alcohol and music now banned, the mood was more that of an ordinary family funeral than a late 1960s "happening."

Unruly behaviour in 1991 on the 20th anniversary of the iconic American singer's death saw police disperse visitors with teargas. Five years later the cemetery was closed early.

There was no official figure for the numbers of fans who turned up at Pere Lachaise, but a police officer told the Associated Press that thousands of fans had made the pilgrimage.

Paris city officials had said they expected between 10,000 to 20,000 fans to turn up.

"Jim Morrison is a giant hero of modern times, a true rebel," Patrice Conus, 42, of Lausanne in Switzerland, told Reuters.

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

'His energy still with us'

Earlier, former Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek visited the grave to pay his own personal tribute to the band's frontman.

Manzarek clasped his hands in prayer in front of the grave, and remained silent for several minutes. He then chatted with other fans before leaving.

Manzarek told The Associated Press he felt Morrison's presence, even 30 years after his death.

"Jim is always with me," Manzarek said. "The ancient Egyptians believed that every time you say a man's name, he's still alive.

"Every day, somewhere in the world, a Doors song is played," he said. "The energy of Jim Morrison is still with us, in the ether."

The collection of flowers, scrawled messages and lipstick stains on the graveside every day attest to Morrison's continued drawing power 30 years after being found dead in the bath at his Paris apartment, aged 27.

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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