The most memorable celebrity funerals ‑ from Amy Winehouse to John Lennon

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Many people reflect on the star’s career and achievements as they come together to pay their respects. It may even feel like you have lost a friend or relative. Some celebrity funerals are quite extravagant. Let’s take a look at some of the most memorable.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson’s solid-bronze casket, plated with 14-karat gold, and blue velvet was memorable in itself. 

A public memorial service was held on July 7 2009 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, twelve days after his death.

The service began with Smokey Robinson reading messages of condolences from Diana Ross and former South African president Nelson Mandela.

Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, John Mayer and Kobe Bryant were just some of the other celebrities who contributed to the service.

Amy Winehouse

Kelly Osbourne and Mark Ronson attended Amy Winehouse’s intimate funeral at London’s Edgwarebury Cemetery.

Rabbi Frank Hellner officiated the Jewish service where her family and friends sang her favourite song Carole King’s “So Far Away”.

Winehouse’s body was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, where her grandmother was also cremated. 

Elvis Presley

Even though Elvis Presley’s funeral was closed to the public, 25,000 fans still swarmed to his Graceland mansion to pay their respects.

The funeral took place on August 18 1977, and was definitely ‘fit for a king’, with thousands of fans continuing to visit Memphis in the days following his death.

30,000 fans were allowed a public viewing of the casket and 80,000 people watched the funeral procession, lining the streets with handmade signs expressing their sadness and mourning.

Hunter. S. Thompson

American journalist and author Hunter. S. Thompson truly went out with a bang, thanks to Johnny Depp, who was rumoured to have spent $3 million on firing Thompson’s ashes from a cannon.

Stars including Jack Nicholson, John Cusack, Bill Murray and Sean Penn attended the funeral, where Thompson’s ashes were fired from a cannon from a 153-foot tower shaped like a double-thumbed fist clutching a peyote button. That certainly highlighted Thompson’s unique personality.


Aretha Franklin

On 31 August 2018, there was an impressive eight-hour service to mark the death of Aretha Franklin.

Fans queued overnight in the hope of getting a seat in the service, which took place at the Greater Grace Temple. Although the service was also shown an a big screen at a petrol station forecourt. 

Stevie Wonder, Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson were just some of the artists that performed at this incredible funeral, which was more like a celebration.

John Lennon

Thousands of fans flocked to pay their respects to John Lennon after his tragic death.

His shock assassination rocked fans, as news spread, vigils took place in cities around the world to pay respect to the singer.

Around 30,000 fans visited Liverpool, his hometown, and 50,000 headed to Central Park to mourn.

Lennon was cremated after his death, but perhaps the most poignant and memorable moment was the 10-minutes silence on December 14, 1980.

Muhammad Ali

Although Muhammad Ali was buried in a private ceremony attended by friends and family, thousands of people had the chance to say goodbye as his coffin passed the streets of his home city of Louisville, Kentucky.

The service was attended by dignitaries and thousands who had free tickets at the KFC Yum! Centre. 

Former US president Bill Clinton said a few words, along with comedian Billy Crystal and Valerie Jarett, an aide to President Obama.

People gathered on the roadside to wave and chanted his name as the coffin passed them. Fans even threw flowers at the hearse with rose petals scattered along the route. 

Although these celebrity funerals are all very different, they will always be remembered. 

Speaking about the events, Sarah Jones of Full Circle Funerals said: “High profile funerals are a great way for people to see that there are many funeral choices and ways to personalise a funeral.

“More public funerals also give people the opportunity to engage in the funeral ritual in their own way ‑ which might be very important for people who felt a connection to the person who has died.”

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