ATLANTA – Legions of fans are expected to line city streets as music legend Gregg Allman is 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 is private, with only about 100 mourners expected to be in attendance at a small chapel in downtown Macon, Georgia. They will include former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who confirmed Friday that he will be among those in attendance. Carter says The Allman Brothers Band helped his 1976 presidential campaign by drawing large crowds at campaign events.
Police said they planned to close several downtown streets as they expect a crush of fans to gather as Allman’s body is taken from the chapel to Rose Hill Cemetery, where he will be buried near his late brother, guitarist Duane Allman. Their band, The Allman Brothers Band, began its rise to fame in the central Georgia city 90 miles south of Atlanta about five decades ago and sometimes performed for large crowds in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park.
When band members were in Macon, they used to hang out in Rose Hill Cemetery, where they wrote songs, Alan Paul wrote in the book 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 the book.
Allman, who blazed a trail for many southern rock groups, died May 27 at his home near Savannah, Georgia, said Michael Lehman, the rock star’s manager. He was 69.
Lehman blamed liver cancer for Allman’s death.
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Allman was raised in Florida by a single mother. Allman idolized his older brother, Duane, eventually joining a series of bands with him. Together they formed the heart of The Allman Brothers Band.
The artist had battled health issues for the past several years, according to a statement from the Big House, the Macon museum dedicated to The Allman Brothers Band. During that time, the museum said, Allman felt that being on the road playing music for his fans was “essential medicine for his soul.”
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 passed away, 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.”