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) 
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Jimmy Carter says he’ll attend Gregg Allman’s funeral in Georgia

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

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“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. 

“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 honor 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 he was when he ran for president, and that 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.”

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.

“Yeah, Cher came with Gregg Allman,” Carter 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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