If you missed the chance to see some of your favorite musical icons perform live, visiting the place where they’re buried feels like the most appropriate way to pay your respects. Other than performing substandard covers of their best songs in your bedroom. The rock star life takes a toll, and it claimed many of its greatest idols well before their time. On top of that, rock stars are also subject to the vicious whims of nature, like the rest of us.
Anyone thinking of doing a tour to cover as many rock star burial sites as possible will probably want to start in Los Angeles, which lives up to its name as the City of Angels in that many members of music royalty are spending the rest of time there. However, there’s always room for a few mavericks in music. From Paris to St. Louis to Bali, here’s where these legendary rock stars are buried.
Jimi Hendrix was moved to a larger memorial
Some still regard Jimi Hendrix’s death at just 27 on September 18, 1970, as not only tragic but suspicious. The Telegraph reports that the guitar legend died in a room at London’s Samarkand Hotel that belonged to his on/off romantic partner Monika Dannemann. Details of the hours leading up to Hendrix’s death are vague, with Dannemann and others changing their accounts multiple times. Hendrix apparently took strong sleeping pills combined with red wine, which caused him to vomit but not wake up, until he ultimately choked to death. The coroner returned an open verdict, which has only increased suspicion.
Hendrix’s burial was also contentious. In 1970, he was buried in a plot at the Greenwood Memorial Park Cemetery in his hometown of Renton, Washington, marked by a simple gravestone reading “Forever in Our Hearts.” But in 1999, his family announced plans to build a 27ft stone memorial in the cemetery, partly funded by fans, complete with granite pillars, a domed roof, and sculptures. Hendrix’s friends protested that digging him up was disrespectful, but in 2002, the memorial was completed, and Hendrix was moved there to lie alongside his father, stepmother and grandmother.
Janis Joplin's ashes were scattered in the Pacific
Janis Joplin died of an accidental heroin overdose on October 4, 1970 — three weeks after the death of Jimi Hendrix and nine months before Jim Morrison’s death. The New York Times reported that two days later, Joplin was cremated at Los Angeles’ Westwood Village Mortuary, with just 10 people in attendance. Her ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Marin County, north of San Francisco, as Joplin had apparently requested.
You can’t visit the exact spot where Joplin was laid to rest, but the especially morbid can still visit the room where she died in the Landmark Hotel, now the Highland Gardens Hotel, on Franklin and North Sycamore Avenues in Hollywood. The extra, super morbid can actually sleep in that room, number 105, according to Atlas Obscura.
Even if you didn’t specifically try to book the room, you’d learn about its connection to Joplin when you went to hang up your clothes. In addition to a brass plaque, the closet contains fans’ scribbled tributes to the singer.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit theSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration websiteor contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Jim Morrison still draws crowds
Jim Morrison was in rock star retirement when he died in his apartment at 17 rue Beautreillis in Paris on July 3, 1971, aged — yes — 27. The official story, USA Today reports, is that he was found dead in his bathtub from heart failure. But some supposed witnesses have since come forward to say that he fatally overdosed on heroin in a nightclub toilet cubicle, and was carried, already dead, back to his apartment by a pair of drug dealers.
Morrison’s grave at Paris’ Père Lachaise Cemetery is one of the most famous in the world — which is impressive when you consider that he’s not even the most prestigious person in the cemetery. Père Lachaise is also the eternal home of world-renowned figures including Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust, Edith Piaf, and Frédéric Chopin.
But crowds still gather to visit Morrison’s impressive shrine, which includes a bronze plaque engraved with his name, dates, and an Ancient Greek epitaph chosen by his father that reads “KATA TON DAIMONA EAUTOU.” As Electric Literature points out, this is usually roughly translated as “True to his own spirit” — but it could also mean “True to his own demons,” a potential reference to the troubles that drove Morrison to Paris in the first place.
John Lennon has a permanent home in Central Park
One of the most famous Liverpudlians in history, not to mention an icon of Swingin’ Sixties London, John Lennon left his home country for New York in 1971. Having married artist Yoko Ono two years earlier, Lennon hoped that the bustling, celebrity-filled city would shield him from the constant attention that comes with Beatles-levels of fame. Instead, nine years later, on December 8, 1980, Lennon was shot dead outside his home at the Dakota apartment/hotel complex by Mark Chapman. Chapman later said that he’d chosen to kill Lennon because of his fame, believing it would in turn bring him “self-glory.”
On October 9, 1985 — which would have been Lennon’s 45th birthday — an area of Central Park opposite the Dakota was dedicated to the musician. According to the Central Park Conservancy website, Lennon had enjoyed many walks in the tranquil space. Renamed Strawberry Fields, in tribute to one of Lennon’s favorite Beatles songs, it features a mosaic with the word “Imagine” at the center, which was presented as a gift by the city of Naples, Italy. Designed to inspire reflection, it’s one of the park’s designated Quiet Zones. The New York Times reports that Ono was involved in the creation of the memorial, and it’s believed that she scattered Lennon’s ashes in the area.
George Harrison requested a Hindu burial
Unlike those of his rock star peers who died suddenly, Beatle George Harrison spent nearly four years being treated for cancer, dying aged 58 on November 29, 2001. He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1997, and then with lung cancer in 1999. That year, the Guardian reports, he also survived being stabbed multiple times by a home intruder. In 2001, Harrison had surgery to treat the lung cancer, and underwent more radiation to treat a brain tumor, but ultimately died from the disease.
Harrison was a follower of the Hare Krishna movement, a branch of Hinduism. In accordance with Hindu beliefs, he was cremated shortly after his death, at the Hollywood Forever Memorial Park, according to CBS News. Hare Krishna spokesmen told the press that Harrison’s wife Olivia and son Dhani would be scattering his ashes in the Ganges (a sacred river in Hindu theology) in Varanasi, India, and at the convergence of the Ganges and the Yamuna. Crowds of fans and press headed to the city, only for the society to retract its previous comments. It’s believed that Harrison’s family did scatter his ashes in the rivers, but that they waited until they could do it more privately.
Cass Elliot died in a 'cursed' London apartment but was buried in California
The most famous detail about the death of Mamas and Papas singer “Mama Cass” Elliot, on July 28, 1974, is wrong. She did not die from choking on a ham sandwich. As People explains, that was a rumor put out by her manager Allan Carr, who was worried that Elliot had died from a drug overdose and didn’t want anyone to know.
Unfortunately, the ham sandwich story has since been twisted into cruel jokes about Elliot’s weight. In fact, Elliot died from heart failure, potentially brought on by the crash diets she’d long experimented with because she was so mocked for her size, as well as her heavy drug use.
Just 32, Elliot died in London’s Mayfair at an apartment owned by musician Harry Nilsson, who was out of the country. Her body was flown back to California, where she was buried at Los Angeles’ Mount Sinai Memorial Park, marked with a simple plaque. Four years later, Keith Moon, drummer of The Who, died of a clomethiazole overdose at the same apartment. Disturbed at the deaths of his friends, Nilsson sold the apartment — to Moon’s bandmate, Pete Townshend.
Someone stole Kurt Cobain's ashes
The story of Nirvana frontman and grunge icon Kurt Cobain’s death is well known, even if certain aspects are disputed by some people. The most accepted story is that Cobain died by suicide on April 5, 1994, in his home in Seattle, Washington. His body was found three days later.
After Cobain’s death, his widow Courtney Love had his body cremated. As Esquire reported in 1996, the couple had been “intermittent Buddhists” and Love wanted to give Cobain’s remains the appropriate spiritual treatment. She divided the ashes, scattering some into the Wishkah River near Cobain’s childhood home, and keeping some herself, reportedly in a bear-shaped handbag alongside her wedding dress. She took these ashes to a Buddhist monastery in Ithaca, New York, and left some with the monks for consecration. The monks mixed the ashes with clay and turned them into tsatsas — described by Esquire as “cone-shaped sculptures three inches tall and painted gold,” intended to be kept in a small shrine.
Love took the remaining ashes, in the bag, back home. She kept them in the closet, but in 2008, she reported that they had been stolen, apparently by someone she knew.
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To find Roy Orbison, look for his wife
Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Roy Orbison was only 51 when he died of a heart attack on December 6, 1988, but he’d been through multiple tragedies. In 1966, his first wife, Claudette Frady, was killed in a motorcycle crash. Two years later, two of their three sons, Roy Jr. and Anthony, died in a fire at their Nashville house while Orbison was on tour. Having made the top 10 nine times between 1960 and 1965, Orbison’s career declined.
However, in between these three great losses, Orbison met the woman who became his second wife: teenage pre-med student Barbara Jakobs. The two married in 1969 and went on to have two sons together, while also raising Orbison’s surviving son, Wesley, from his first marriage. In the 1980s, Jakobs became Orbison’s manager, and he experienced a comeback. In 1987, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he’d formed a supergroup, The Traveling Wilburys, which also included Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, shortly before he died suddenly.
Orbison is buried in Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, but as of 2018, his grave was unmarked, the BBC reported. Instead, look for Jakobs: when she died in 2011, she was buried next to him, with a marker. Claudette Frady, Roy Jr. and Anthony are buried in Nashville.
Good luck finding Frank Zappa
If you know Frank Zappa’s tragic real-life story, you’ll know that after a full-on life pushing boundaries and doing things, as Sinatra would say, his way, Zappa died of prostate cancer on December 4, 1993, aged 52. His family announced his death with the statement “Composer Frank Zappa left for his final tour just before 6 p.m. Saturday.”
Zappa was buried in Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, a surprisingly conventional choice for someone who determinedly bucked convention at every opportunity. The cemetery is the final home of many superstars from movies, music, and the arts, including Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, Jack Lemmon, Truman Capote, Kirk Douglas, and Natalie Wood. According to the LA Times, in 2020, a single burial plot there cost $745,000.
There is one thing that’s unusual about Zappa’s resting place: he’s buried in an unmarked grave, supposedly near the also unmarked grave of Roy Orbison. His family hasn’t given an exact reason for this, but it fits in with someone who liked to take the less-trodden path.
Beach Boys Dennis and Carl Wilson got the celebrity treatment
The Beach Boys lost more than a bandmate when Dennis Wilson, the band’s drummer, drowned, aged 39, on December 28, 1983. In addition to being the middle brother of Brian and Carl, he was Mike Love’s cousin. According to the New York Times, Dennis was swimming with three other people off the Marina del Rey harbor, when he dived underwater and never resurfaced.
The week after his death, President Ronald Reagan intervened so that Dennis’ body could be buried at sea, per his wishes, an honor usually reserved for veterans of the Navy or Coast Guard.
Fifteen years later, Dennis’ younger brother Carl died. He’d been diagnosed with cancer in 1997, and continued to play with the band while receiving treatment. In December that year, the Wilson brothers’ mother, Audree, died, aged 80, and was buried in Los Angeles’ Westwood Memorial Park. Her grave marker identifies her as “The Original Surfer Girl.” Two months later, on February 6, 1998, Carl died too, and was buried in the same cemetery.
Elvis Presley returned to Graceland after an attempted grave robbery
Elvis Presley struggled to find privacy while he was alive, and even after his death, people couldn’t keep their hands off him. When Presley died of a heart attack on August 16, 1977, aged 42, the nation went into mourning. And in some cases, denial.
The day after Elvis’ death, his father Vernon Presley allowed around 30,000 fans to view his son lying in state in Graceland. At the funeral procession the following day, Elvis was taken to Forest Hill Cemetery in a white hearse, followed by 17 white limousines, for a private ceremony. According to the Daily Beast, Vernon had wanted his son buried at Graceland, but it wasn’t zoned for burials. Instead, Elvis was interred inside a steel-lined coffin weighing nearly 1,000 lbs., and placed in a large mausoleum next to his mother Gladys, which was sealed with a double layer of concrete, covered with a marble slab.
That wasn’t the end of it, though. On August 29, three men were caught trying to steal Presley’s body, with the intention of ransoming it. After that, the burial rules were waived, and Elvis and Gladys were returned to Graceland. When Vernon died in 1979, he was buried next to them. But some have accused Vernon of orchestrating the attempted grave robbery, to ensure Elvis would be moved back to Graceland.
Johnny Cash is buried next to June Carter Cash — of course
One of music’s greatest love stories started in the Grand Ole Opry and ended less than 20 miles away in Hendersonville Memory Gardens. In 1956, upcoming country star Johnny Cash met already-famous June Carter backstage at the famous Nashville venue. It wasn’t supposed to be love at first sight: both were married to different people. But that night, Cash reportedly told Carter he was going to marry her.
Their professional and personal relationship deepened in the ’60s, when the pair started touring together. Carter was inspired to write “Ring of Fire” about her illicit feelings for Cash. In 1966, Cash’s first wife Vivian Liberto finally sued him for divorce, on grounds of infidelity and his addictions to various drugs and alcohol. Carter and Cash officially became a couple, but it was only when he proposed to her live on stage in front of 7,000 people in London, Ontario, on February 22, 1968, that she agreed to marry him — and she did, on March 1.
The couple was married for 35 years, until Carter’s death, aged 73, on May 15, 2003. Cash died a few months later, on September 15. They are buried next to each other in a joint plot in Hendersonville Memory Gardens, Tennessee.
A psychic helped David Bowie plan ahead
If this list proves anything, it’s that rock star life can end suddenly: but David Bowie wasn’t worried. As his keyboardist Mike Garson explained to Billboard, Bowie had decades of advance warning, because in the 1970s, a psychic told him he would die at 69 or 70. Garson added, “[Bowie] didn’t doubt it for a second … [He] accepted it and planned his future out based on that.” Bowie died on January 10, 2016, after what was described in an official statement as an “18-month battle with cancer.” He’d turned 69 two days earlier.
That early warning (not to mention the cancer diagnosis) ensured Bowie had made his wishes clear. According to the New York Times, he asked that his ashes be cremated and scattered in Bali, following Buddhist rituals practiced on the island. Despite these very clear instructions and no evidence that his family had any intention of ignoring them, there were still rumors, reported in E! Online, that Bowie’s widow Iman had given permission for some of his ashes to be scattered at 2016’s Burning Man Festival. Bowie’s son Duncan Jones immediately took to Twitter to shut down the claim, writing, “What people will do & say for attention never ceases to amaze me. Not true. Kind of a gross claim as well.”
Eddie Van Halen had a most excellent request
Losing Eddie Van Halen in 2020 was a painful twist in a year that had already claimed so many lives. The guitarist rose to fame with his eponymous band — co-founded with his brother Alex — and revolutionized the sounds that could be created with an electric guitar. He inspired real and fictional guitarists alike: he even performed anonymously in “Back to the Future,” but politely declined a part in all three “Bill & Ted” movies.
Eddie Van Halen was 65 when he died of lung cancer on October 6, 2020. He had been diagnosed with throat cancer in 2000, but in 2004 said that the cancer was gone. A few weeks after his death, his son Wolfgang explained to “The Howard Stern Show” that his father had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in 2017, and given only six weeks to live. Eddie received treatment in Germany, which Wolfgang credits with the three years he survived after the diagnosis. But in 2019, following a motorcycle accident, Eddie was found to have a brain tumor.
It’s believed that Wolfgang granted his father’s final wishes and scattered his ashes off the coast of his hometown of Malibu, California.
Mary Wilson was buried next to her son
One third of the most famous girl group to emerge from Motown, Supreme Mary Wilson died suddenly on February 8, 2021, aged 73. The cause was later reported as hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease: a build-up in the arteries caused by high blood pressure that eventually leads to heart failure.
In keeping with restrictions on funeral sizes imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Wilson’s family held a small private ceremony for her on March 16, with the intention of holding a larger gathering when it was safe, the Detroit Free Press reported. Wilson was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California, which is also the final home of John Candy, Bing Crosby, John Ford, Rita Hayworth, and Sharon Tate. Most important to Wilson, she was buried next to her son Rafael Ferrer, who died in a car crash in 1994, aged 16. She left behind three other children, including a cousin whom she’d adopted; 10 grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.
Only one person knows where Freddie Mercury's ashes are scattered
Queen singer and songwriter Freddie Mercury was not afraid to bask in the adoration of enormous crowds, but he didn’t want that kind of attention after his death.
Diagnosed with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in 1987, Mercury knew that he would likely die within a matter of years. He decided that he wanted to be cremated, and where he wanted his ashes scattered, but only told his close friend and ex-fiancée, Mary Austin. Not even his parents knew. As Rolling Stone reports, Mercury told Austin that the reason for the secretiveness was because, understandably, “I don’t want anyone to dig me up. I just want to rest in peace.”
After Mercury died, aged 45, on November 24, 1991, he was cremated at Kensal Green Cemetery in Northwest London. Austin delayed scattering the ashes for two years, worried that someone would see her. In 2013, a plaque honoring Farrokh Bulsara — Mercury’s birth name — was found on a tree in the cemetery where Mercury had been cremated. It was inscribed with the phrase “Pour Etre Toujours Pres De Toi Avec Tout Mon Amour — M” in English, “Always to Be Close to You with All My Love.” Although many assumed the “M” stood for Mary, Austin denied that she’d scattered Mercury’s ashes there. So that narrows it down slightly.
Ray Charles had an all-star funeral
According to his New York Times obituary, Ray Charles once told an interviewer, “it’s not a question of how long I live, but it’s a question of how well I live.” Although there was never going to be a good time to say goodbye to the multi-talented, genre-defying Genius of Soul, Charles did live to 73, which is impressive by rock star standards, especially given that he experienced and overcame heroin addiction. And he continued to record music and play live into his last year. He died from complications of liver disease on June 10, 2004.
Charles was buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. Fellow famous people buried there include Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Betty Grable, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Robert Kardashian. His memorial service at LA’s First African Methodist Episcopal Church was also a star-studded affair — unsurprising, given Charles’ legendary status. The BBC reported that Stevie Wonder, Willie Nelson, and B.B. King all performed; Cicely Tyson and Clint Eastwood both spoke; and the 1,500 attendees included Reverend Jesse Jackson, Quincy Jones, and pre-disgrace Bill Cosby. Jones told the New York Times that he’d give anything to get Charles back, “but I know that heaven has become a much better place with him in it.”
Dolores O'Riordan was buried in her hometown
The family, friends, and fans of Irish band the Cranberries were shocked and dismayed when frontwoman Dolores O’Riordan died on January 15, 2018, aged 46. O’Riordan was found dead in the bathtub of her room in London’s Hilton on Park Lane, where she’d been staying during recording sessions. She’d called her mother at around 3 am, the BBC reports, and was found around six hours later. An inquest found a high level of alcohol in her blood, concluding that her death was a “tragic accident.”
O’Riordan’s body was returned to her native Ireland. Before her funeral, she lay in repose in an open coffin in St. Joseph’s Church in the city of Limerick, where thousands lined up to pay their respects. The funeral took place on January 23 in the local church of her hometown of Ballybricken, County Limerick, where she used to sing in the choir. That day, radio stations across the country played the Cranberries hit “When You’re Gone” in her honor. After the private service, O’Riordan was buried next to her father Terence in Caherelly Cemetery, a couple of miles away.
Chuck Berry may have lived fast but he didn't die young
Chuck Berry is so central to rock music that in 1986, he became the very first inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Many consider his 1955 track “Maybellene” the seed that grew into the genre of rock and roll.
Berry started singing in his church choir aged six and picked up the guitar as a teenager, performing in talent shows. He was in his thirties when he wrote many of his most popular songs: he had eight top 40 hits between 1955 and 1960.
As he grew older, Berry continued to play. As Rolling Stone reports, in 2014, at 88-years-old, he was still playing a monthly gig at local St. Louis restaurant and bar Blueberry Hill. He used his 90th birthday to announce the release of what would be his last album, “CHUCK,” which he dedicated to his wife of 68 years, Themetta. Before it was released, Berry died of natural causes on March 18, 2017. He was buried in Bellerive Heritage Gardens in his native St. Louis, Missouri.
Prince's urn is perfect
You can probably guess where Prince chose as his eternal resting place — but it still comes with a uniquely Prince twist. Prince’s sudden death at age 57 on April 21, 2016, rocked the world in the worst way. It was especially shocking and no less sad to learn that he had died from an accidental fentanyl overdose. The star had consistently presented himself as anti-drugs and alcohol, even banning alcohol and cigarettes from his famous Minnesota estate, Paisley Park.
The Guardian reported that Prince was cremated two days after his death in a private service, as fans laid tributes outside Paisley Park. At the time, his publicist said that the location of his remains would be private. But that October, it was announced that Paisley Park would reopen as a museum — and Prince himself would be the main attraction.
Prince’s ashes are now in an urn designed in collaboration with his sister Tyka Nelson and nephew President Nelson, that sits in the foyer of Paisley Park. The urn is a miniature version of his house, complete with a purple piano, working lights, and his gem-studded symbol. Even in death, Prince has to outdo everyone.
Johnny and Joey Ramone are still better off apart
Johnny and Joey Ramone famously hated each other, so it’s probably a good thing that they’re buried on opposite sides of the country. The pair never exactly got on, but as Rolling Stone explains, the animosity boiled over when Joey’s girlfriend Linda Danielle cheated on him with Johnny: the couple later married. When Joey was dying of lymphoma, Johnny refused to visit him: the only former bandmate who did was Tommy Ramone. Joey died on April 15, 2001, and was buried in Hillside Cemetery in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. Attendees at his funeral included Tommy, members of Blondie, and Joan Jett — but no Johnny.
The following year, on June 5, Dee Dee Ramone died of a heroin overdose, aged 50, shortly after the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was buried in LA’s Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Johnny followed him there two years later, when he died of prostate cancer, aged 55, on September 15, 2004. Johnny was cremated, and Linda kept his ashes: but he had a four-foot statue of himself placed in the cemetery.
Joey isn’t totally alone on the East Coast. Tommy Ramone died on July 11, 2014, of cancer of the bile duct, and was buried in New Montefiore Cemetery, New York.
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