It was just over a year ago that Allman received an honorary doctorate of humanities degree from Mercer University, with Carter's hands-on assistance. Carter, a member of the Macon-based university's board of trustees, beamed as he helped to drape the white "hood" signifying the honorary over the black graduation robe worn by an uncharacteristically shy-looking Allman.
Related video: Gregg Allman backstage at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre
It was hardly the first meeting between the two famous Southerners. As Carter’s statement made clear, Allman was more famous than him when he ran for president -- which was a good thing.
“Gregg and the Allman Brothers Band were very helpful to me in my 1976 presidential campaign,” Carter said in the statement. “Gregg Allman was better known than I was at that time. The band got the campaign political attention and raised much needed funds.”
Jan. 19, 1977 - President-elect Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn say hello to an old friend at Gala. Rock musician Gregg Allman was one of the performers at the Kennedy Center show. (AP) 1977
Turnabout was fair play. In 1974, Carter invited Allman to a party he was hosting for Bob Dylan at the Governor’s Mansion on West Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead. And in January 1977, the Allman Brothers Band were guests at Carters’ Inaugural Ball in Washington D.C.
Allman clearly made a lasting impression on Carter beyond music. Asked several years ago at the annual banquet of the Carter Political Items Collectors who his most interesting guests were during his time at the White House, Carter grinned when someone called out "Cher?" from the back of the room.
“Yeah, Cher came with Gregg Allman,” he said of the rocker’s then-wife, before going on to recount in detail how much the band had boosted his political fortunes:
“Gregg Allman and the Allman Brothers just about put me in the White House,” Carter said. “They were the best fundraisers that we had. In those days, they would charge somebody $15 to come hear them play. And we were getting the whole $15 plus 15 more matching dollars! So we got $30 every time someone came to hear the Allman Brothers Band play. And Cher came along with Gregg … They were married for a brief time as you may remember.”
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