When a celebrity dies, it often feels like we’re losing a close friend or relative. Even though we don’t personally know these individuals, we’re touched by their art, lifetime achievements, or impact. These feelings affect us in very real ways, and many people join these celebrity funeral celebrations as a way to show their respect for a lost icon.
Over the past decade, many celebrity funerals have captured headlines around the world. While you might be able to think of a few celebrity deaths that impacted you off the top of your head, what memorial services from the past ten years were the biggest? In this guide, we’ll explore the 18 most memorable celebrity funerals of the last decade. Which do you remember the most?
1. David Bowie
David Bowie is a pop-rock icon, and he has one of the biggest legacies in the music world. He died just after his 69th birthday after a battle with liver cancer. Unlike other celebrities, David Bowie chose not to have a funeral service at all after his death. Instead, his family had his body cremated immediately after his death.
Fans wanted a way to honor their beloved Ziggy Stardust, and this resulted in one of the most iconic murals in London. The David Bowie graffiti Mural is located in Brixton, the district of London where Bowie grew up. The image of Ziggy Stardust from his 1973 album Aladdin Sane attracted thousands of fans in the days after the artist’s death to pay tribute.
The beloved American singer, songwriter, and musician Prince died of a drug overdose in 2016. As a seven-time Grammy winner, it’s no surprise that his memorial attracted people from around the world.
His family held a private funeral immediately after his death near his home church, but public memorials took place in cities across the United States. One event in Los Angeles attracted thousands who partied like they were with Prince himself!
3. Robin Williams
One of the most well-known and respected actors and comedians of our time, Robin Williams took his own life in 2014. This death hit the world hard, and it shined a light on mental health around the globe.
While his memorial was closed to the public, it packed an impressive guest list that included Whoopi Goldberg, Bonnie Hunt, George Lucas, and more.
4. Whitney Houston
This 80s icon passed away in 2012 in a room at the Beverly Hills hotel. The singer’s funeral was at her childhood church, and it included a four-hour service.
The guest list was invite-only, but it included talented stars like Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys, and Mariah Carey.
5. Amy Winehouse
This Grammy winner died in 2011 after a long struggle with drugs and alcohol. Hundreds of people attended the Jewish service at London’s Edgwarebury Cemetery. The music producer Mark Ronson and TV star Kelly Osbourne attended the service.
For days and months after the service, fans continued to flock to her grave to leave stones and other signs of respect.
6. Mac Miller
Famous rapper Mac Miller died at age 26 from an accidental drug overdose. His sudden death left fans reeling.
Though his family hosted a funeral in his home state, hundreds of fans held a public vigil in his honor at Frick Park’s Blue Slide playground. The playground was the namesake for his 2011 debut album.
7. Paul Walker
Paul Walker died during the period of production of one of the films in the action franchise The Fast and the Furious. He was only 40 at the time of the accident, and fans of the film were shocked around the globe.
His family hosted a public memorial where thousands gathered for a motor procession in Santa Clarita to pay tribute to his life.
8. Cory Monteith
Fans of the TV show Glee remember the death of Cory Monteith from a drug overdose. The cast, crew, writers, and producers joined together to pay tribute to the actor at Paramount studios.
Everyone in attendance wore black ribbons in honor of Monteith, and his close stars shared memories and grief.
9. Joan Rivers
Joan Rivers was an American comedian, actress, writer, and television host best known for her TV personality. Unlike some of the others on this list, Rivers had a plan for her funeral. She said she wanted a “big showbiz affair with lights, cameras, action.”
Friends, family, and famous icons came to show their respects. With singing from Hugh Jackman and a eulogy from Howard Stern, this was a funeral to remember.
10. Aretha Franklin
The Queen of Soul herself had one of the most recognizable funerals of the past decade. To celebrate the life and legacy of Aretha Franklin, more than 40 musicians and celebrities took the stage at a Detroit concert in her honor.
The concert was free to the public and featured acts by Kurt Carr, Tyler Perry, and Patti LaBelle.
11. John McCain
John McCain was an American politician and military officer. He’s best known as a senator from Arizona where he served until his death in 2018. He also ran against Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.
12. Elizabeth Taylor
The iconic access from days of classic Hollywood passed away in 2011 from congestive heart failure. Her legacy includes films such as National Velvet and Cleopatra. Throughout her life, she was an advocate for HIV/AIDS.
Taylor was buried in the same cemetery, where her longtime friend, Michael Jackson, is entombed. She left instructions for her family to ensure she arrives 15 minutes “fashionably late” to her own funeral. Friends, family, and fans flock to her grave and her Hollywood Walk of Fame star to leave flowers and mementos.
13. Tom Petty
Rock ‘n roll star Tom Petty died in 2017 after an accidental drug overdose. His top hits include classics like “Free Fallin’,” “American Girl,” and “Won’t Back Down.”
His funeral, as one might expect, was all about his rocker lifestyle. His daughter notoriously shared her funeral “merch designs” for T-shirts on Instagram.
14. Leonard Nimoy
This Star Trek actor died after a long battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2015. Though the memorial was a quiet, secret affair only for close friends and family, Star Trek fans paid their respects in their own ways.
Comic Expos around the world had attendees dressed as Spock and moments of silence in his honor.
15. Carrie Fisher
Star Wars star Carrie Fisher died after falling unconscious on a flight from London to Los Angeles in 2016. The family hosted a public funeral in her honor.
More than a thousand people visited to pay respects to both Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, who passed away a few days after her daughter. The famous Star Wars droid R2-D2 even made an appearance!
You can read more about Carrie Fisher's funeral here.
16. Luke Perry
Famed heartthrob Luke Perry from Riverdale and Beverly Hills, 90210 died of a stroke in 2019. Fans around the world paid tribute by sharing their memories of him from his beloved series. His final burial was a bit unique.
17. Anthony Bourdain
Lifetime traveler and chef Anthony Bourdain’s suicide shook the world in 2018. He passed at age 61 while filming his travel show “Parts Unknown,” and he leaves behind a huge legacy of kindness and advocacy.
While his family didn’t plan a public funeral per his funeral wishes, his fans honored him in their own way. Outside of his former restaurant in New York, fans left flowers, handwritten cards, and photos.
18. Kobe Bryant
Finally, Kobe Bryant was an American basketball player known for his 20-season professional career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He died tragically with his daughter in a helicopter crash in early 2020, leading to public outcry across the country.
A memorial for him and the other victims of the crash was at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Icons like Shaquille O’Neal, Rob Pelinka, and Michael Jordan gave televised speeches. Beyonce, Alicia Keys, and Christina Aguilera gave performances in honor of the basketball legend.
Honoring the Greats: Memorable Celebrity Funerals
Everyone has a celebrity who’s near and dear to their heart. Fans show their support during times of mourning through tributes, funeral songs, public vigils, and ceremonies. These small signs of respect prove that our legacy lives on far after we leave this world.
Which celebrity funerals above stand out to you? Can you remember important memorials that happened in your lifetime? More importantly, how will you be remembered?