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A pop goddess and a rock star fell in love. A look back at Cher’s time in Macon.

Gregg Allman and Cher’s Macon hideaway

In the mid-70s, Gregg Allman bought the "Grand Topper" house in the Wood Valley subdivision in northeast Macon. Sixth owner and Current resident C. Terry Holland explains the house's history and the few changes he made to the kitchen of the hideaw
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In the mid-70s, Gregg Allman bought the "Grand Topper" house in the Wood Valley subdivision in northeast Macon. Sixth owner and Current resident C. Terry Holland explains the house's history and the few changes he made to the kitchen of the hideaw

You’ve heard the stories of the Allmans and their Big House. Otis Redding has his statue, and Little Richard called the Pleasant Hill neighborhood home.

And then there was Cher.

There are plenty of music legends who spent a great deal of time in Macon, but there are a few high profile names with lesser-known ties to the city.

Cher, the Goddess of Pop, spent a bit of time in Macon in the late 1970s stemming from her ill-fated romance with the late Gregg Allman.

Their marriage was brief but caught the nation’s attention, and their love brought Cher to the city several times over the years.

The Telegraph archives offer a partial glimpse into the pop star’s time in Macon and the couple’s brief marriage.

When did Cher first come to Macon?

It was 1972, and Cher was still married to Sonny Bono when the duo played in front of a crowd of about 8,000 at the Macon Coliseum.

It wasn’t until a few years later that Cher would appear again, and it was for Allman.

In February 1975, Cher and Bono were in the midst of a divorce when she and Allman showed up at Uncle Sam’s night club for an impromptu concert. The club was owned by Macon-based Capricorn Records co-founder Phil Walden, said Jamie Weatherford, the co-owner of Macon’s Rock Candy Tours.

She had a CBS special that was set to air, and Allman supposedly was just an old friend in the music business. But she didn’t have any other Georgia appearances planned, and the Chicago Tribune called Allman “Cher’s new heart throb.”

When did the romance begin?

The rumors of Cher and Allman’s relationship persisted. Around the same time, Cher was romantically linked to record tycoon David Geffen.

But the two stars rumored love turned out to be true.

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Cher wows the crowd at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum during her 2004 Farewell Tour. Cher was once married to the late Gregg Allman and spent tim in Macon, Georgia. Tim Isbell Sun Herald File

In March 1975, Cher and Allman confirmed their relationship in a National Enquirer interview. Cher said she wasn’t sure the pair would marry, but Allman said he loved the singer. The rocker’s pet name for Cher was “Chooch.”

She’d make her mind up quick. She finalized her divorced from Bono on Jun. 27, 1975. Days later, she married Allman. It was Cher’s second and Allman’s third.

The ceremony took place Jun. 30, 1975, at a suite in the Las Vegas Caesar’s Palace hotel. Allman wore a white suit with a scarf, and Cher wore an ice blue, two-piece satin gown. An executive for Capricorn Records told The Telegraph that there were about half a dozen guests.

Where’d Allman pop the question? Well, in a booth at Le Bistro on Mulberry Street Lane in Macon. The site is now home to the Downtown Grill. At the time, Capricorn Records Executive Frank Fenter owned the restaurant.

What happened from there was well-documented by tabloid magazines and news organizations across the nation. One Telegraph reporter wrote that Allman married the pop star “long enough to father a child and find himself splattered on the cover of every supermarket tabloid.”

Cher first filed for divorce from Allman on July 9, 1975 — nine days after tying the knot. She called the marriage a “mistake.” Allman, through a spokesperson, said he was surprised by the filing.

What happened?

Reports said their work schedules prevented them from taking a honeymoon but tales later came out about their getaway to Jamaica.

Gregg allegedly pulled a knife on Cher after a fight. A friend guessed Allman staged the fight so he could get away and find drugs. Cher left the island without Allman, and then she filed for divorce. She’d eventually withdraw the litigation, and they’d get back together.

Allman would file for divorce in November 1975. But the lawsuits would be dropped, and the pair was back together by December.

Where did Cher and Allman live?

The couple spent most of their time in Los Angeles. Cher was filming her solo show, “Cher.” Sonny — yes, the ex-husband — came back into the picture when the show morphed into “The Sonny and Cher Show.”

Cher and Allman’s son, Elijah Blue Allman, was born in Los Angeles on July 10, 1976.

Allman was traveling during that time too. He was playing fundraisers for Jimmy Carter as the former Georgia governor followed his presidential aspirations ahead of the 1976 election. But Cher and Allman visited and spent some time in Macon.

gregg allman
Gregg Allman sings Midnight Rider at the Macon City Auditorium in 2002. Telegraph File

Cher and Allman would stay in the Wood Valley subdivision between Upper River and Old Clinton roads. There were parties at the home, and some wonder if their son was conceived there.

But Weatherford said he’s been told Allman and the rocker’s best friend Hewell “Chank” Middleton lived in the home. Cher, from his understanding, would often stay at the home when the couple was in Macon.

“The way I kind of imagine that is basically that … Gregg owned the house. He let Chank stay there. If Gregg was in town, that’s kind of where he and Cher would stay,” Weatherford said.

Allman’s mother is believed to have lived on Pinecrest Road off Ingleside Avenue from about 1973 to 1975, and Cher spent some time there too, Weatherford said.

“You hear people who said they saw her at a grocery store,” he said. “But I’m not familiar with her living like any extravagant life in the city of Macon.”

Where else were they seen?

Residents in Macon have their stories about seeing the famous couple. Syl and Connie Thuente were raising two young girls around the corner from the star couple’s Middle Georgia love nest.

“(The girls) would sit on the street corner and stay there and wait for him to come home,” Connie Thuente told the Telegraph in 2017. “He was always very nice, and he always waved at them.”

Chico Scott told The Telegraph in 2017 that he bagged the couple’s groceries at Bateman & Wade grocery store in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood. Scott said he worked there from 1973 to 1975, meaning the encounter would have happened during the early part of their marriage.

“No matter how much or how many bags I carried to his green Buick with the wood-grain-on-the-sides station wagon, Gregg and Cher always gave me a $7 tip,” he said. “On one occasion while taking their groceries to the car, Gregg gave me the ... ‘Eat A Peach’ album. ... I don’t have that album anymore ... but will always remember the conversations we had at the grocery store and the encouragement he and Cher gave me after they learned that I had lost my mother in the summer of 1973.”

What happened to the couple?

Cher was granted legal separation from Allman in December 1977, according to Telegraph archives. The couple was divorced in 1978, according to Daniel Wheway’s “The Cher Bible: 2018 Ultimate Edition.”

The marriage was plagued by Allman’s demons. He battled drug addiction. Allman’s testimony in the 1976 federal drug trial against his road manager John C. “Scooter” Herring soured relationships with his bandmates.

“It was a very tumultuous period in Gregg’s life,” Weatherford said.

Cher sees Gregg laid to rest

Cher’s last known visit to Macon came on June 3, 2017, when she attended Allman’s funeral. He was 69.

“IVE TRIED…WORDS ARE IMPOSSIBLE GUI GUI,” she wrote on Twitter following the news of Allman’s death. “FOREVER, CHOOCH.”

Nick Wooten is the Southern Trends and Culture reporter for McClatchy’s South region. He is based in Columbus, Georgia at the Ledger-Enquirer but his work also appears in The (Macon) Telegraph and The Sun Herald in Biloxi.Before joining McClatchy, he worked for The (Shreveport La.) Times covering city government and investigations. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.
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