Exclusive Book Excerpt: Gregg Allman's 'My Cross to Bear'

The Southern hippie soul brother opens up about his relationship with Cher in this preview of his new memoir

gregg allman book
Gregg Allman, 'My Cross to Bear'
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In an excerpt from his new memoir published in the May 10th issue of Rolling Stone, Gregg Allman tells of surviving tragedy, heroin and a tumultuous relationship with Cher. In this preview, Allman describes his first, terrible date with the singer.

She smelled like I would imagine a mermaid would smell – I've never smelled it since, and I'll never forget it. It was January 1975, and I was playing a solo show at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. After the show, my buddy Chank ran up to me, going, "Guess who's here?"

"Who?" I asked.

"I want you to just ease over that railing and look to your right."

There she was, man: Cher. I couldn't believe how beautiful she was. I got my guitar and headed down toward her. Cher showed up with David Geffen as her date. I had met Geffen on many occasions before, but I didn't acknowledge him at all – or anyone else, for that matter. I was so rude; I didn't say hello or nothing at all, because I was so blinded by her.

I was walking by, and she was down on the floor looking for something. She looked up and said, "Oh, I lost my earring." Then she said, "Here's my number – call me."

The next day, I asked her out to dinner. I went to her house in a limousine, and when she came out, she said, "Fuck that funeral car," and handed me the keys to her blue Ferrari. We went to a Moroccan restaurant on Sunset, and we sat there, eating with our hands with the sitars playing. She didn't have shit to say to me, and I didn't have shit to say to her. What's the topic of conversation? It certainly ain't singing.

I said to her, "I've got a friend who lives up in the Hills, and his wife is Judy Carne." Cher knew Judy, who used to be on Laugh-In, from years before, but she didn't realize that Judy was into heroin. We got up to Judy's house, and I had just a little taste of doojee. I nodded out in the bathroom for 20 minutes or so, while Cher was out in the living room with Judy, who's also nodding out. I came out of there and asked her, "OK, toots, what else would you like to do?"

"I want to get the fuck out of here as fast as I can," she said.

I called her the next day and said, "Wait, before you say anything – that was possibly the worst fucking date in the history of mankind. We might be ready for the Guinness Book of World Records." She agreed with me, so I said, "Well, listen, seeing how it was so bad, why don't we try it again, because it can only go better this time?"

We went dancing. I don't know how to dance, but I got drunk enough to where I did. I danced my ass off. This is when disco was just taking off, so we did some dirty dancing. She had one drink, while I had my 21, of course. When we got back to her place, she took me out to her rose garden, and all the roses were just starting to bloom.

From the forthcoming book "My Cross to Bear," by Gregg Allman with Alan Light. Copyright 2012 by Gregg Allman. To be published on May 1st by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. For an expanded excerpt, read the May 10th issue of Rolling Stone.

From The Archives Issue 1156: May 10, 2012
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