Cher honors ex-husband Gregg Allman at rocker’s funeral
Legions of fans lined the streets of Macon, Ga., on Saturday to honor music legend Gregg Allman as he was carried to his final resting place in the same cemetery where he and his band members used to hang out and write songs amid the tombstones.
The Saturday afternoon service was private, with only about 100 people expected inside a small chapel. Mourners, including Allman’s ex-wife Cher, filed past white columns into the peach-colored building as five black stretch limousines waited outside.
Some came through a back entrance. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said he would attend, honoring the Allman Brothers Band keyboardist who drew large crowds to campaign events during his 1976 presidential race.
Police closed downtown streets to accommodate the crush of fans coming to watch Allman’s body being taken from the chapel to Rose Hill Cemetery, where he will be buried near his late brother, guitarist Duane Allman.
“He’s somebody who has been in my life first as an artist and later as a real person since I was about 8 years old, and so it’s shocking to think of the world without him,” said Paul, 50, who interviewed Allman many times for his book.
Allman, who blazed a trail for many Southern rock groups, died May 27 at his home near Savannah, Ga., said Michael Lehman, the rock star’s manager. He blamed liver cancer for the 69-year-old’s death.
Born in Nashville, Allman was raised in Florida by a single mother. He idolized his older brother, Duane, eventually joining a series of bands with him. Together they formed the heart of the Allman Brothers Band before Duane died in a motorcycle crash in 1971, just as they were reaching stardom.
The Allman Brothers (L-R) Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, Gregg Allman, Jai Johanny Johanson, Berry Oakley and Butch Trucks sit on some rairoad tracks on May 5, 1969 outside of Macon, Georgia.(Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)
Gregg, left, and Duane Allman at Muscle Shoals, Alabama October 16, 1970.(Michael Ochs Archives)
Gregg Allman appears at Peaches Records in Atlanta in 1975.(Tom Hill / WireImage)
Gregg Allman in September 1976.(Tony Barnard / Los Angeles Times)
Cher and Gregg Allman pose with their ten-week-old son Elijah Blue Allman in Los Angeles in September 1976.(AP)
Gregg Allman and Cher pose for a portrait in a hammock at their home on October 30, 1977 in Beverly Hills, California.(Michael Ochs Archives / )
Gregg Allman and Cher in 1977.(David Redfern / Redferns)
President Jimmy Carter kisses singer Cher as her husband Gregg Allman stands by, second from right, during a reception at the White House, Jan. 21, 1977 in Washington held by the Carters for the Georgia Peanut Brigade, a group of campaign workers.(Peter Bregg / ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Gregg Allman plays during a 1979 Allman Brothers Band concert at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.(Tom Hill / WireImage)
Left to right: Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson, Dickey Betts, Gregg Allman, Butch Trucks. Date unknown.(Richard E. Aaron / Redferns)
Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers Band performs at the Forum in Inglewood in 1979.(George Rose / Los Angeles Times)
Dickey Betts, left, and Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers Band at Central Park concert hall in Milwaukee, Wis., on July 28, 1989.(Los Angeles Times)
Gregg Allman, right, sings with his son Devon Allman during the NASCAR Rocks on the Road With The Allman Brothers 30th Anniversary Tour in Los Angeles on July 31, 1999.(Neil Jacobs / Associated Press)
Gregg Allman speaks during All My Friends: Celebrating the Songs & Voice of Gregg Allman at The Fox Theatre on January 10, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.(Andrew H. Walker)
Gregg Allman performs at The Allman Brothers Band’s farewell concert at Beacon Theatre on October 28, 2014 in New York City.(Taylor Hill / FilmMagic)
In his 2012 memoir, “My Cross to Bear,” Allman said he finally felt “brand new” at 50 after years of overindulging in women, drugs and alcohol. But hepatitis C ruined his liver, and after getting a transplant, it was music that helped him recover. Allman felt that being on the road playing music for his fans was “essential medicine for his soul,” according to a statement from the Big House, the Macon museum dedicated to the band.
Lehman said he spoke with Allman the night before he died.
“He said the last few days he was just, you know, tired,” Lehman said.
The night before he died, Allman was able to listen to some of the tracks being produced for his final record, “Southern Blood,” Lehman said. The album is scheduled to be released in the fall.
“He was looking forward to sharing it with the world, and that dream is going to be realized,” Lehman said. “I told him that his legacy is going to be protected, and the gift that he gave to the music world will continue to live on forever.”
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