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'Ramblin Man' Gregg Allman laid to rest near Highway 41

Associated Press logo Associated Press 6/3/2017 By JEFF MARTIN, Associated Press
Family, friends and fans attend Gregg Allman's burial at Rose Hill Cemetery, Saturday, June 3, 2017, in Macon, Ga. (AP Photo/Branden Camp) © The Associated Press Family, friends and fans attend Gregg Allman's burial at Rose Hill Cemetery, Saturday, June 3, 2017, in Macon, Ga. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)

MACON, Ga. (AP) — Legendary 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.

Cher arrives for the funeral of Gregg Allman, Saturday, June 3, 2017, in Macon, Ga. Family, friends and fans will say goodbye on Saturday to music legend Allman, who died over the Memorial Day weekend at the age of 69. (AP Photo/Branden Camp) © The Associated Press Cher arrives for the funeral of Gregg Allman, Saturday, June 3, 2017, in Macon, Ga. Family, friends and fans will say goodbye on Saturday to music legend Allman, who died over the Memorial Day weekend at the age of 69. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)

Thousands of fans lined the streets of Macon to honor the "Ramblin Man," 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 on a hillside overlooking his grave, which is shaded by huge oak trees.

Mark Elliott shows a concert ticket from the last Gregg Allman concert he attended, Saturday, June 3, 2017, in Macon, Ga. Family, friends and fans on Saturday will say goodbye to the music legend, who died over the Memorial Day weekend at the age of 69. (AP Photo/Branden Camp) © The Associated Press Mark Elliott shows a concert ticket from the last Gregg Allman concert he attended, Saturday, June 3, 2017, in Macon, Ga. Family, friends and fans on Saturday will say goodbye to the music legend, who died over the Memorial Day weekend at the age of 69. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)

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."

Ann Sewell, left, and Barbara Tsiklistas embrace outside of Rose Hill Cemetery, where Gregg Allman will be laid to rest, Saturday, June 3, 2017, in Macon, Ga. Legions of fans are expected to line the streets of Macon, Georgia, as the music legend 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. (AP Photo/Branden Camp) © The Associated Press Ann Sewell, left, and Barbara Tsiklistas embrace outside of Rose Hill Cemetery, where Gregg Allman will be laid to rest, Saturday, June 3, 2017, in Macon, Ga. Legions of fans are expected to line the streets of Macon, Georgia, as the music legend 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. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)

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

Dwayne Lewis reads a local newspaper covering the death of Gregg Allman, Saturday, June 3, 2017, in Macon, Ga. Legions of fans are expected to line the streets of Macon, Georgia, as the music legend 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. (AP Photo/Branden Camp) © The Associated Press Dwayne Lewis reads a local newspaper covering the death of Gregg Allman, Saturday, June 3, 2017, in Macon, Ga. Legions of fans are expected to line the streets of Macon, Georgia, as the music legend 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. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)

The funeral service was private, with room for only about 100 people inside the small chapel. Mourners, including Allman's ex-wife Cher, filed past white columns into the peach-colored building as five black stretch limousines waited outside for the short trip to the cemetery.

Some slipped in 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, and 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.

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 before Duane died in a motorcycle crash in 1971, just as they were reaching stardom.

In his 2012 memoir, "My Cross to Bear," Allman said he finally felt "brand new" in the 1990s after years of overindulging in women, drugs and alcohol. But hepatitis C had ruined his liver, and after getting a transplant, it was music that helped him recover. Allman felt that being on the road playing music for his fans was "essential medicine for his soul," according to a statement from the Big House, the Macon museum dedicated to the band.

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."

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