Travel

Some of the most visited gravesites

You don’t always need to have known someone to want to say goodbye.

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There is no getting around it: there is something morbid about graveyards, especially when visiting the site of someone you never knew personally. But the nature of celebrity means that often when a beloved artist passes, people grieve in a very real but confusing way, and often the only obvious way to pay your respects is to visit their final resting places. It must be an ingrained human trait, after all how else do you explain the tens of thousands of people who make the pilgrimage to the graves of even those who have been dead for centuries? It’s also a reminder of the brevity of life, a connection to generations past, and a way of feeling closer to someone. With this in mind, we have highlighted the resting places of a number of beloved artists.

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MICHAEL JACKSON

Image: Wiki Commons

Considering he was hounded his entire life, it’s a little too much to expect that Michael Jackson would have been allowed to rest in peace upon his untimely death at the age of 50. But while the obvious place for fans planning to make a pilgrimage would seem to be the sprawling Neverland ranch: his own ‘happiest place on earth’, his final resting place is a little more serene: Jackson in entombed in a mausoleum at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, the final resting place of many celebrities. MJ fans still flood this place, making it a less-than-ideal place to quietly dwell on his short, sad life.

Image: Shuttertock

JAMES DEAN

Image: Wiki Commons

There’s something about the tragedy of a short life with boundless unfulfilled promise that really draws people in. James Dean is perhaps the most famous example of someone whose star burned brightly and then flickered out far too soon, and, in keeping with his homespun talent, he is buried in Park Cemetery in Fairmount Indiana – a ten minute walk from his aunt and uncle’s farm where he grew up. The farm itself — The Winslow Farm — is a pilgrimage destination for Dean fans of all ages, so you can knock over two in one should you be inclined to visit. The grave itself is unassuming, but it’s nice to think that a young James Dean would have made the walk from the farm to the cemetery numerous times during his short life, dreaming of one day leaving the farm for something bigger.

Image: Wiki Commons

JACK KEROUAC

Image: Wiki Commons

Kerouac was the king of the Beats: his novel On The Road was responsible for both the reams of terrible stream-of-consciousness prose that followed, and a number of cross-country road trips, with young people generation after generation being drawn to the promise of endless highways and adventure. Not surprisingly, a lot of these pilgrimages involve stopping off at his gravesite at Edson Cemetery, in Lowell, Massachusetts – the tiny town he grew up in. The grave bears the markers of decades of intruders: mourners offer up railroad gin, joints, books of poetry, and long-life food, in the spirit of Jack’s travelling ways. Unfortunately, the grounds around it seem more like the aftermath of a party, with trampled flowers, smashed gravestones, and other such destruction. I’ve gotta say, it is fitting that the party is yet to end. If you make the trip, you may see a surprise visitor too – rumour has it that Bob Dylan visits every six months to pay his respects and enjoy a smoke with ol’ Jack.

Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg visiting Jack Kerouac’s grave in 1975. Image: ginsbergblog

WHITNEY HOUSTON

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Whitney Houston was another celebrity who was embroiled in scandal throughout her short life, but left a legacy of classic work behind, all of which makes her gravesite a popular place for fans who will always love her. Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, New Jersey is where you can find her stone, although recently this site has taken on an even darker legacy, with Whitney’s only daughter — Bobbi Kristina Brown — being laid to rest next to her mother upon her tragic death in 2015, aged just 22.

Image: dailymail.co.uk

MARILYN MONROE (and countless others)

Image: Wiki Commons

The Westwood Memorial Park in L.A. is misleadingly small, which makes it all the most remarkable how many legendary Hollywood celebrities are buried there. Dean Martin, Natalie Wood, Eva Gabor, Roy Orbison, and most recently, Florence Henderson, all call the Westwood their final resting place, but it is Marilyn Monroe who the majority of star-seeing tours arrive to pay their respects to. She is entombed in a crypt there – number 24 in the appropriately-named Corridor of Memories. Sweetly and sadly, her former lover Joe DiMaggio had a bunch of roses delivered to the crypt, three times a week, for twenty years following her untimely death.

Image: Shutterstock

OSCAR WILDE AND JIM MORRISON

Images: Wiki Commons

Both lived decedent lives, and suffered tragic deaths – both victims of their fame and era. While Morrison chronicled the dangerous underbelly and endless possibilities of Los Angeles, and Wilde satirised British society, both artists are buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Their tombs are quite different in both stature and the types of visitors, with Wilde’s large stately tomb located on the hill near the Gambetta station, and often adorned with lavish floral displays, scripts, and silk, while Morrison’s is humble in size, and often strewn with gifts of joints, alcohol, and graffiti.

Images: Shutterstock

HEATH LEDGER

Images: Shutterstock

Closer to home, Australian actor Heath Ledger died ten years ago at the tragically young age of 28, a cocktail of prescription pills causing him to pass in such a untimely manner. His ashes are in the Karrakatta Cemetery and Crematorium in Perth, and — in keeping with his strong family ties — were scattered with those of his beloved grandparents. A more apt tribute site for those planning to pay their respects would be the monument erected in his honour at Point Heathcote Reserve, in Applecross. It’s contains chess board designs (a nod to Heath’s obsession with the game; at the time of his death he was training to be a grand master), a centrepiece with the yin and yang symbols, and a plaque commemorating his short, exceptional life.

Images: Shutterstock

BON SCOTT

Image: Wiki Commons

Arguably the most famous, and the most visited, grave in Australia is that of AC/DC lead singer, Bon Scott. Since his death in 1980, Scott’s grave site in Fremantle Cemetery has become a cultural landmark, attracting thousands of visitors each year wanting to “have a beer with Bon.” It’s included on the National Trust of Australia’s list of classified heritage places, and was the inspiration behind the film, Thunderstruck. In July 2006, to mark what would have been Scott’s 60th birthday, the Metropolitan Cemeteries Board completed refurbishments on the Bon Scott Grave Area, including a Bon Scott Arch and Memorial Entrance gate.

Images: Wiki Commons

Posted by Nathan Jolly