PARIS, July 3 -- Hundreds of rock fans solemnly placed flowers, candles and messages at the grave of Jim Morrison, poet and lead singer of the rock group 'The Doors,' on the 25th anniversary of his death Wednesday. Security was tight at the Pere-Lachaise cemetery, where fans rioted at the gravesite five years ago. Guards this year barred fans who were carrying alcohol. The fans, many dressed in Morrison's trademark loose white shirt and black leather pants, came mostly from Europe and the United States and were between the ages of about 16 and 50. 'Morrison is attractive to people of all ages, because he was a universal guy and he wrote poetry that is important for everybody wherever he or she comes from,' said Rainer Moddemann of Germany, editor of The Doors Quarterly magazine. 'His message was to stay an individual, be a loving person and make yourself comfortable in this world,' he said. Morrison, whose band had a worldwide following with such hits as 'Light My Fire' and 'L.A. Woman,' died of heart failure in his Paris apartment on July 3, 1971, after years of alcohol and drug abuse. He was 27. A number of other famous artists also are buried at the Pere-Lachaise cemetery, including Oscar Wilde, Honore de Balzac, Edith Piaf, Frederic Chopin, Simone Signoret and Yves Montand. A bust of Morrison at the site was damaged by fans in 1983, and a new tombstone was erected in 1990. Attached to it is a bronze plaque, with the singer's name, birth and death dates and an inscription in Greek that translates as 'To the divine spirit within himself.'
Many fans Wednesday left messages at the grave, such as 'I'm the lizard king and I can do anything' and 'We are you and miss you' and 'Jim lives forever in our hearts.' Some of Morrison's fans believe the singer may still be alive, and have scratched out all markings in the cemetery that direct visitors to his grave. On the 20th anniversary five years ago, 16 people were arrested at the grave after some 400 youths rioted and set fire to a vehicle they had used to break into the cemetery. 'The 20th anniversary was not really indicative of anything except mass hysteria because you had the movie,' said Michelle Campbell, a photographer from Texas, referring to the Oliver Stone film 'The Doors. ' 'But I think that a quarter of a century after Morrison's death, the idea that this is still going on is quite interesting,' said Campbell, who has gone to the Pere-Lachaise cemetery for eight years. 'This is not Woodstock, it's not a nostalgia trip. But these are very young contemporary fans still moved by his music and his poetry a quarter of a century after he died...I think that's a very significant number,' she said. Earlier this year, France's Ministry of Culture declared Morrison's grave a national cultural monument.