May 2012

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“It was madness,” is how Gregg Allman describes his brief but spectacularly stormy marriage to Cher in this month’s issue, sounding similarly horrified by what he remembers of the album he recorded with her, 1977’s pretty lamentable Allman And Woman: Two The Hard Way.

I interviewed the pair when they were in London that November to promote the record. I was shown into a lavish suite at the Inn On The Park with spectacular views of Hyde Park. Across the room, Gregg was slouched on a couch. His head was sunk between his shoulders, the rest of him hair, buckskin and denim. I wasn’t sure if he was awake.

Anyway, about now Cher stalked into the room, looking like something you might find carved on the prow of a pirate ship, imperious and menacing. She gave Gregg a slap on the shoulder and he hauled himself over on the couch to make room for her. I asked Gregg why the LP had taken a year to make, a question followed by a long silence. “Gregg,” Cher said eventually, “answer the question, why dontcha?”

About now there was a rumble in the room. Something unspecific but seismic, the kind of noise that in some parts of the world would be indicative of an earthquake or something similar, involving tremors, collapsing buildings, giant waves to follow.

It was Gregg, talking about how he and Cher had split up two, three, maybe four times during the recording. His voice was deep and furry, muffled, like someone trapped in a car, talking to rescue workers through an air bag. He was also at the time trying to get off drugs, he added, multiple addictions to heroin, cocaine and anything you could pour out of a bottle into a glass, apparently the hardest thing he’d had to do in his life.

It must’ve been tough for Cher, too, I offered gallantly, getting a plucky little smile from her.
“No, it wasn’t,” Gregg said, surprisingly sharply. “I don’t think it was as painful for her as it was for me. No sir.”
Was it Cher’s idea for you to get treatment for your addictions?
“No…uh-uh,” Greg said, fumbling for a Marlboro.
“Yes, actually,” Cher said snappily. “It was.” She sounded pretty clear about this. Gregg heaved, as they say, a somewhat heavy sigh.
“In the beginning, maybe,” Gregg said, sucking so hard on his cigarette his head disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
“I prefer him when he’s not on drugs,” Cher added. “He’s a different person.”
“We have to go through this now?” Gregg said, getting cranky.
“I was just saying…” Cher said, sounding stern.
“Well, don’t…!”

Enjoy the issue and any thoughts you have on it, let me know, as ever, at: allan_jones@ipcmedia.com

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