Photos: Jenni Rivera memorial draws thousands to Universal's Gibson Amphitheater

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Free tickets for the public memorial for Jenni Rivera — the much-loved "diva of banda music"  who perished in a plane crash this month — were gone fewer than 15 minutes after they became available, but thousands of fans still hustled to try to get in free or to stake out spots in front of the giant screen that broadcast the event live outside the amphitheater near Universal Studios on Wednesday.

Rivera’s brother, Pastor Pedro Rivera Jr., officiated at the two-hour service. The performer’s five children and her extended family, as well as more than 5,000 fans, joined the public memorial before a private funeral service.

The singer and six others were killed Dec. 9 when their small plane crashed in Northern Mexico during a concert tour.

Outside the theater, Rivera’s song “Cuando Muere una Dama” — “When a Lady Dies” — played, and her female fans sang along. The song described her own wishes — have a big party for me, release butterflies into the sky in my name, and please don’t forget me.

Alicia Castañeda, who like Rivera is 43 years old, said she attended because she identifies with Rivera the singer, entrepreneur and domestic violence survivor.

“She’s a strong woman. Some time ago I suffered like that, and it’s a nice thing to have a Latina woman, a Mexican-American woman, who showed us to not stay quiet, who said, 'You need to speak,'” Castañeda said.

Castañeda’s husband, Jaime, stood next to her with a white rose in hand, shedding a couple of tears.

On the screen in front of him, live video of the ceremony showed Rivera’s sons and brothers, dressed in identical white suits, processed onto the stage with the red casket that carried Rivera’s body. 

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