For most of us, it will be ourselves or our close relatives that will have to make the difficult decisions surrounding funeral arrangements for our loved ones…
Coffins, funeral directors, flowers, cars and perhaps most importantly, budget, are all things we will need to consider.
How does this differ for celebrity funerals?
In less than two days after the singer died, 25,000 fans had surrounded Elvis’ Memphis home to pay their respects to the late king of rock ‘n’ roll. Celebrities like James Brown, Ann-Margaret and George Hamilton joined them to commemorate the star in the sweltering 90 degree heat.
Presley’s funeral itself took place in Graceland on August 18th and wasn’t open to the public. Thousands surrounded the gates outside however, where many of the fans were ploughed down by a car that killed two women and critically injured a third. Around 80,000 people lined the streets for his procession to the Forest Hill Cemetery.
When the acclaimed godfather of soul passed in 2006, it would seem that one funeral service just wasn’t enough. The first service was a public viewing of Brown’s body at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre, having been driven through the streets of New York in a glass-encased, horse-drawn carriage, allowing his polished bronze promethean casket to be on display.
Several celebrities paid their respects over the course of the memorial services, including – wait for it – Michael Jackson, Jimmy Cliff, Joe Frazier, Buddy Guy, Ice Cube, Ludacris, Dr. Dre, Little Richard, Dick Gregory, MC Hammer, Prince, Jesse Jackson, Ice-T, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bootsy Collins, LL Cool J, Lil Wayne, Lenny Kravitz, 50 Cent, Stevie Wonder, and Don King.
All of the services were suitably lavish; Brown had costume changes and there were several performances by many of the celebrities in attendance, as well as videos of Browns infamous concert performances.
With an estimated 1.6 million people competing to win one of the 17,500 tickets to his memorial service, the king of pop’s funeral was one of the largest celebrity funerals in history. If you were lucky enough to get one of the tickets, then it would have set you back around $10,000. If that was too steep for you however, then you could have watched it on any of the major television channels that aired the event live.
It’s little wonder as to the gargantuan cost, with celebrity performers such as Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Jermaine Jackson, and Shaheen Jafargholi, all singing Jackson songs. With a gold plated, solid bronze Promethean casket, similar to that of Brown’s, this celeb was as extravagant in death as he was in life.
After Lennons cremation, his ashes were given to Yoko Ono who chose not to have a funeral for him. Despite this, on the 14th December 1980, millions of mourners the world over paused for ten minutes of silence, in memory of Lennon. 30,000 people also gathered in Liverpool to show their respects, but perhaps the most overwhelming assembly of people, were the 225,000 that gathered in New York’s Central Park, where mourners spent the entire day. Although there were 300 police officers at the event, it seems the entourage were willing to follow the Beatles star’s advice to ‘give peace a chance’, for that day at least.