On May the 27th, Gregory LeNoir Allman, of the seminal Southern Rock group The Allman Brothers Band, slipped his earthly bonds, went home to Glory and is now undoubtedly the newest member of the greatest "big house" band that ever was.
I'd originally been scheduled to head over to Augusta on Saturday to cover the Georgia GOP state convention, but when my ole pal and bandmate Cham called and said he was putting together a day trip to witness Allman being laid to rest, well, it wasn't that tough of a decision. And Mrs. GM and Ms. Editor were on board for me to do an online write-up for The Covington News, your hometown paper since 1865.
So I got collected about 9 in the morning on Saturday and then we stopped to get some supplies and then later collected the Carpenter and the Artist, the Parkers and we were off - headin' southbound to Bibb County.
On the drive we listened to nothing but Allman Brothers tunes, Gregg's solo stuff, or other related projects. For example, we actually listened to the Cher and Gregg duet that they did from "Allman and Woman." It'd been years since I listened to it. You know, it's pretty good.
We rolled in to downtown Macon a little before 11 a.m. and hit the Rookery for some midday subsistence. Been hearing nothing but great things about this place for years, and man - it was everything it's cracked up to be. I had a house Bloody Mary that was simply divine, and the burger I got was one of the best I've had in some time. Brad got the "Eat a Peach" burger that was one of the specials - it had Georgia peaches on it. It looked heavenly and he said it tasted even better.
While I was out front on a smoke break, I ran into two fellas who'd come up from Valdosta. AJ, the guy I was mainly talking to, seemed like a real good ole boy. Just salt of the Earth, you know. He'd seen the band probably a dozen and half times and had also seen Gregg solo three times. We talked about what his music meant to us, favorite songs, etc. His buddy looked a little shot out but after I got to talking to him, I found out that he's a CPA in his day job. Never judge the cover of the book, right?
Later, we drove up to the vicinity of Rose Hill cemetery, the final resting place of Duane Allman and Barry Oakley, where Gregg was going to be interred. We parked at a car dealership across the street and then staked out a spot under a nice shade tree on the hill right in front of the cemetery gates.
I was then able to visit with Melissa Hardman, a born and bred Newton County girl who now lives in Macon and is involved with "The Big House," the Allman Brothers museum. She was actually at the Big House the day Gregg passed on. She spoke about the lasting legacy and influence that he and the band have left on Macon, and quoted one of their album titles, "Brothers & Sisters," as a representation of the feelings of commonality and collaboration that Macon is all about it. And you can really sense that, friends. It's truly just a fine, fine town.
I also asked Melissa about her all time favorite top three songs. Well, naturally, number one had to be "Melissa." The the other two - "Mountain Jam" and "Dreams." This woman obviously has great musical tastes!
A little while later and the procession made its way up the hill into the cemetery. I got to see Dickey Betts and Jaimoe, the last two surviving original members of the group. Later I saw Joe Walsh. It was thought that they'd close off the cemetery to the general public, but they did not. Whether is was planned or just happened organically, several hundred of the folks assembled made their way in. Everyone was very respectful. It was a very somber occasion.
A graveside service that may have lasted 10 minutes or so happened, and then that was that.
I ran into several other folks and have a lot of tales and couple of videos. Look for those in an expanded write-up over at "The Piedmont Chronicles" in the next day or so.
And thanks to Deanna Cheatham and Melissa Morgan Parker for the photos.
Until next time, friends.
- MB McCart