The Hollywood Forever Cemetery has become synonymous with rock 'n' roll thanks to great live shows (recently, Patrick Wolf and Jens Lekman) and its popular Cinespia screenings. But its headstones are what makes it sacred ground for music fans. Even Morrissey says he wants to be buried there.
Hollywood Forever's centerpiece is its ornate Johnny Ramone statue, and the venue's annual tribute gathering for the Ramones guitarist — which occurs tomorrow — remains the best time to pay homage. The seventh annual event is thrown by Johnny's wife Linda Ramone and John Cafiero, and will features a performance by the Misfits, a double film feature, and surprise guests. In honor of the party, here's our list of the top five musicians buried at Hollywood Forever cemetery, at least in spirit. May they rock in peace.
5. Nelson Riddle (1921-1985)
Though he was said to have hated rock music, composer Nelson Riddle inspired one famous rocker: Linda Ronstadt. Riddle and Ronstadt worked on the groundbreaking, What's New?, the first album by a contemporary artist to have major commercial success with a collection of old standards. Before that, Riddle's duet partners included both Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. He revamped the TV theme for Route 66 and composed the memorable theme song for TV's Batman. He died from liver problems on Oct. 6. 1985 and is buried in the mausoleum.
4. Gidget Gein (1969-2008)
Like Jayne Mansfield, Gidget Gein has a much visited memorial at Hollywood Forever, but his actual ashes aren't under it. The musician/artist, whose real name is Brad Stewart, is best known as a founding member of Marilyn Manson. He died of a drug overdose on Oct. 9, 2008. We covered his death and the memorial event that raised money for his bench.
3. Dee Dee Ramone (1951-2002)
Said to have come up with the Ramones name, and the “1,2,3,4” countdown that started each song, Dee Dee was also the wackiest Ramone, and some might say, the most troubled. He was found dead on the evening of June 5, 2002 and an autopsy established heroin overdose as cause of death. He lays not far from Johnny's statue. His headstone has his real name “Douglas Glenn Colvin” on top, and features the Ramones seal surrounded by a line from “Highest Trails Above:” “I feel so safe flying on a ray on the highest trails above.” Below his stage name it reads: “O.K…I gotta go now.”
2. Bianca Butthole (1965- 2001)
Gene Simmons may have been marketing KISS caskets around the same time, but when Bianca Halstead (aka Bianca Butthole) passed away in 2001, her family chose to bury her ashes in her prized vintage KISS lunchbox. The lead singer for scorching all-girl L.A. rock band Betty Blowtorch (who would definitely be #6 on this list) died in a car crash in New Orleans on Dec. 15, while on tour. Her life and death are chronicled in the film, Betty Blowtorch and Her Amazing True Life Adventures.
1. Johnny Ramone (1948-2004)
The coolest cenotaph (a monument erected to honor of a person whose remains are elsewhere) of all time has to go to Johnny Ramone. The guitarist lost his battle with prostate cancer on Sept. 15, 2004. His wife Linda may have his ashes at their home, but all fans would agree that Johnny's soul is definitely at Hey-(Ho)llywood Forever.
Traci Michaelz (1974-2008), drummer for L.A. rockers band Peppermint Creeps is buried at Hollywood Forever. The green haired glam group was a staple on the Sunset Strip. He died while on tour in Texas. His band mates performed a tribute show to him at the Whiskey just this past Summer.
Special Honorable Mention:
Though he doesn't rest there, George Harrison (1943-2001) was cremated in Hollywood Forever's creamtorium after passing away at a friends' house in L.A. The Beatles member's ashes were then returned to his family, who reportedly scattered them in the sacred Ganges River in India.