People gather by the grave of The Doors frontman Jim Morrison to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his death at the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris. — AFP

Rockers old and young cried, shared a drink and perhaps even a joint in a stylishly overgrown cemetery in Paris on Saturday, marking 50 years since the death of 1960s icon Jim Morrison. Dozens of fans of the frontman of psychedelic rock band The Doors, who decamped to the French capital in early 1971 and died shortly afterwards of a heart attack, flocked to his grave in an overcrowded corner of Pere Lachaise cemetery. "It's important because the music lives on... it's like the music is alive today, like 'Light My Fire' was recorded last week," says Michelle Campbell, a fan from England, recalling the band's greatest hit.

Proving her point, 19-year-old music student Marius de la Brosse, with tousled long dark hair and baggy linen shirt, whips out a guitar and strums a few blues chords. "I like his vision of life," the French teenager says of Morrison. "He was a guy who never had a home, who travelled with dollars in his pocket and just wandered around."

Some read poetry, others leave messages close to the grave-one has a lipstick kiss imprint with "one more time" written on it, a reference to the 1968 song "Five-To-One" where Morrison urged youth rebellion. But this is not the 1960s and reminders of modernity are scattered throughout-certain fans mooch around with selfie sticks and many wore the now ubiquitous face masks to protect against the coronavirus.

'Old rockers never die'

The restrictions put in place to combat the spread of the virus meant many fans could not make it. "English fans could not come, we are sorry because we've known them for about 20 years," says Catherine Dalancon, the organizer of the commemoration. Previous events have been uproarious celebrations, and 10 years ago surviving members of The Doors showed up. But this time, coronavirus ensured a more sombre affair.

"I usually meet a lot of people who are not here today," says Parisian Christelle, sitting against a tree, explaining that she visits the grave every major anniversary of Morrison's death and birth. Two small groups of police officers are in attendance to make sure nothing gets out of hand.

But they are not needed-the biggest disturbances coming with Doors music blaring from mobile phones or beer caps falling on nearby gravestones. But die-hard fans are not disheartened. Fred Verheijden, in his seventies, has made it to the grave from the Netherlands.

He and his friend both wear T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "Old Rockers Never Die", but he pointed to another iconic slogan on the shirt, "Light My Fire". "We named our trip to Paris 'Light My Fire' rather than 'The End' because, as you can see, with all the people here, the Morrison legend continues," he says. - AFP