14 Famous Memorial Sites For Musicians

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Twenty-nine years ago today, Priscilla Presley opened Graceland to the public. Since then, the estate has drawn hordes of visitors to honor the King of Rock and Roll. But what about the other sites around the world that celebrate legendary musicians? Here are 14 famous gravesites, memorials, and statues of some of the most influential names in music history.

14. Stone Mountain, Ga.
Tupac Shakur statue
After one of the most notorious deaths in hip hop history, the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation was developed by Tupac’s mother, Afeni, in 1997. The Foundation began a Center for the Arts in 2005 as a youth arts training program. Located in Stone Mountain (the Atlanta suburb depicted as the most backwards redneck place on Earth by 30 Rock’s Kenneth), the center has a Peace Garden with a bronze statue of the late rapper.

13. Montreux, Lake Geneva, Switzerland
  Freddie Mercury statue
After passing away from complications from AIDS in 1991, Freddie Mercury was cremated and his ashes scattered in Lake Geneva. A statue of the frontman was unveiled on November 25, 1996, and overlooks the lake. Since 2003, Queen fans have journeyed to Switzerland on the first weekend of September to pay tribute as part of the “Freddie Mercury Montreux Memorial Day.”

12. Ganges River, India
Ashes of Jerry Garcia and George Harrison
Flowing through India and Bangladesh, the rushing water of the Ganges is home to two deceased musicians. After Jerry Garcia passed away in August 1995, his body was cremated and half of his ashes were scattered into the river at the holy city of Rishikesh, India. The other half were poured into the San Francisco Bay. Later in August, a public memorial took place in Golden Gate Park, where 25,000 people attended.

George Harrison  also was commemorated by the shores of the Ganges. A follower of Hinduism since the mid-1960s, Harrison was fascinated by Indian culture and helped to bring the sitar into Western rock and roll. After his death in 2001, a private ceremony was held and his ashes were scattered into the Ganges, in accordance with Hindu tradition.

11. Viretta Park, Seattle, Wash.
  Kurt Cobain’s park
Where else would one of the pioneers of grunge rock be commemorated but Seattle? Though his ashes were scattered in the Wishkah River in Washington, fans visit Viretta Park to pay tribute to Kurt Cobain. The park’s benches serve as a memorial to the Nirvana frontman, with graffiti messages that say “Kurt’s Park” and “Come As You Are.”

10. Desert Memorial Park, Cathedral City, Calif.
Frank Sinatra’s grave
This cemetery, located near Palm Springs, is home to Ol’ Blue Eyes’ grave. Passing on May 14, 1998, Frank Sinatra was laid to rest next to his parents in Desert Memorial Park, with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a pack of Camel cigarettes tucked into his suit. The immortal words are engraved on his headstone: “The best is yet to come.”

9. City of Lubbock Cemetery, Lubbock, Texas
Buddy Holly’s grave
On February 3, 1959, Buddy Holly was killed in a small plane crash along with two other pioneers of rock and roll music—Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. Though the crash occurred near Clear Lake, Iowa, Holly was interred in his hometown of Lubbock, Tex. His gravestone bears the true spelling of his name, “Holley,” and a depiction of his Fender Stratocaster. Monuments have also been set up near the crash site in Clear Lake, including a post-sign of horn-rimmed glasses, to commemorate the Day the Music Died.

8. Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Tree, Calif.
  Gram Parsons memorial
Gram Parsons  was a regular visitor to Joshua Tree National Park prior to his death in 1973, and so he and his friend Phil Kaufman made a pact that whoever died first, “the survivor would take the other guy’s body out to Joshua Tree, have a few drinks and burn it” (according to Kaufman’s memoir). This pact would be the foundation for one of the greatest stories in rock and roll history.

Today, there is a Gram Parsons memorial at the geological formation Cap Rock in Joshua Tree National Park. From 1996 to 2006, the Cosmic American Music Festival was held annually in honor of Parsons and his impact on the music industry.

7. Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, Calif.
  Michael Jackson’s crypt
Forest Lawn Memorial Park is famous for the graves of Hollywood legends such as Humphrey Bogart, Sammy Davis Jr., Clark Gable, and Elizabeth Taylor. Prominent entertainers in the music industry, including the Andrews Sisters, Nat King Cole, and Sam Cooke, are also lain to rest here. The park is also home to the Great Mausoleum, which Time magazine dubbed the “New World’s Westminster Abbey.” Michael Jackson was entombed in the Mausoleum on September 3, 2009, in the Holly Terrace section. Jackson’s private crypt is unmarked and covered with flowers fans leave, which security guards place outside. Ever since his death, a steady stream of visitors have paid homage to the King of Pop.

6. Hendersonville Memory Gardens, Hendersonville, Tenn.
  Johnny Cash’s grave
Only four months after June Carter passed away, Johnny Cash died on September 12, 2003. The Man in Black was interred next to his beloved wife in the cemetery near his home in Hendersonville, and many fans journey to the hills of Tennessee to pay their respects.

5. Nine Mile, Jamaica
  Bob Marley Mausoleum
In the village of Nine Mile lies a chapel built just feet away from Bob Marley’s childhood home, where the reggae singer was buried after his death in 1981. In 1991, the Jamaican government declared Marley’s birthday, February 6, a national holiday, and Nine Mile plays host to an annual music festival in honor of the celebrated Rastafarian.

4. Greenwood Memorial Park, Renton, Wash.
  Jimi Hendrix’s grave
Located 11 miles from Seattle, Greenwood Memorial Park is home to the gravesite of Jimi Hendrix. After concern that visitors were disturbing adjacent plots, Hendrix’s body was exhumed and reburied in a memorial site separate from other burial sites. The marble dome memorial was completed in 2002, and is also where Hendrix’s parents are buried. A Fender Stratocaster is depicted on his headstone, and his autograph is located at the base of each pillar.

3. Cimetière du Père Lachaise, Paris, France
Jim Morrison’s grave
This Parisian cemetery is a pilgrimage for any fan of The Doors. After his death in 1971, Jim Morrison was laid to rest without an official marker until French officials placed a shield over his grave. In 1981, a bust of Morrison was created and placed atop the grave to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his death. Over the years, visitors graffitied and defaced the bust, which was eventually stolen in 1988. Morrison’s grave remains one of the most visited tourist destinations in Paris.

2. Strawberry Fields, Central Park, New York City
  John Lennon memorial
Located at the Central Park West entrance, directly across from the Dakota, this memorial celebrates the legendary Beatle. Dedicated on what would have been John Lennon’s 45th birthday, the mosaic memorial draws thousands of visitors who come to lay flowers, light candles, and listen to street performers covering Lennon’s songs. Vigils are often held at Strawberry Fields, including the days after the September 11 attacks and on anniversaries of the Beatles’ birthdays.

1. Graceland, Memphis, Tenn.
  Elvis Presley’s home
Home of the King himself, Graceland has become the second most-visited private home in America, after The White House. Currently serving as a museum, the entire estate—apart from the bathroom in which Elvis Presley died—opened to the public on June 7, 1982. Drawing in over 600,000 visitors a year, Graceland became a National Historic Landmark on March 27, 2006, and is the only site related to rock and roll in the National Register of Historic Places.

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