Fans line streets to bid farewell to Gregg Allman

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Fans line streets to bid farewell to Gregg Allman

MACON, Georgia — Southern rocker Gregg Allman was laid to rest Saturday near his older brother Duane in the same cemetery where they used to write songs among the tombstones, not far from US Highway 41.

Thousands of fans lined the streets of Macon to honor Allman, who was carried into Rose Hill Cemetery as a bagpiper played a somber tune.

Family and friends, including musicians who played in The Allman Brothers Band over the years, gathered next to his grave and on a nearby hillside shaded by huge oak trees.

Toward the end, a freight train rolled in and stopped alongside the cemetery, reminding some mourners of Allman’s lyrics to “Melissa.’’

Along the funeral route, many shared memories of concerts, and some blared the band’s songs from their cars and trucks. One carried a sign saying “You made our soul shine. We’ll miss you brother Gregg.’’

“I wouldn’t have missed this if I lived in China,’’ said Kelli Jo Hickman, who drove in from Murphy, North Carolina. She said her mom, Dixie, introduced her to the band in the 1970s, and she’s listened to their music since.

The funeral was private, with room for only about 100 inside the small chapel.

Allman’s ex-wife Cher and his band mates, including the drummer Jaimoe and guitarist Dickey Betts, who wrote and sang “Ramblin Man,’’ also attended.

Some slipped into the chapel through a back entrance. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter had said he would attend, honoring the keyboardist who drew large crowds to campaign events during his 1976 presidential race.

Allman, who blazed a trail for many Southern rock groups, died May 27 at the age of 69 at his home near Savannah, Georgia, said Michael Lehman, the rock star’s manager. He blamed liver cancer.

With Gregg at the organ and Duane playing guitar, the band began its rise to fame in the central Georgia city 90 miles south of Atlanta about five decades ago. They used to write songs while hanging out in the cemetery, Alan Paul wrote in “One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band.’’

“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.

AP
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