Former President Jimmy Carter and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Gregg Allman embrace while Allman receives an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree during Mercer University’s commencement at Hawkins Arena in Macon, Ga., on Saturday, May 14, 2016. (Jason Vorhees/The Macon Telegraph via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Jimmy Carter says he’ll attend Gregg Allman’s funeral in Macon on Saturday

Former President Jimmy Carter said he will attend Gregg Allman’s funeral in Macon on Saturday.

“Gregg Allman was there when I needed him and Rosalynn and I have always been grateful to him,” Carter, 92, said in a statement on Friday. “I was very proud to participate in Mercer’s awarding Greg an honorary doctorate, and will attend the funeral to show my respect and concern.”

Allman died at age 69 last Saturday at his Savannah home from complications due to liver cancer. He is to be buried alongside his brother Duane and fellow Allman Brothers band member Berry Oakley at Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon. 

A private service will take place at 1 p.m. at Snow’s Memorial Chapel, followed by a procession to the cemetery. Fans are welcome to line the procession route to pay their last respects to the icon of Southern rock.

“Rosalynn and I were deeply saddened when we learned that Greg Allman had passed,” Carter said of himself and his wife of 70 years.

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

Gregg Allman backstage

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
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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.”

RELATED

Funeral for Gregg Allman will be Saturday in Macon

Planning to line the funeral route? Get information about parking

MORE ABOUT GREGG ALLMAN

Read and sign the online guestbook

Allman Brothers Band Museum (the Big House) in Macon to host friends and celebrities

The time Gregg Allman played a solo gig in Atlanta’s Music Midtown festival

Flashback: Gregg Allman overcame addictions and failure in his solo music career

For updates on the death of Gregg Allman, follow the AJC Music Scene blog on Facebook or Twitter

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