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The Story of Gregg Allman and Cher’s Marriage

Gregg Allman and Cher
Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images

Headlines follow whenever a pair of superstars hook up for a walk down the aisle — and that went at least double for Gregg Allman and Cher, who set the standard for a whirlwind rock ‘n’ roll courtship decades before Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee became tabloid fodder.

Allman and Cher’s romance raised eyebrows for a number of reasons. To begin with, he was a Southern rock star, and she was a pop singer; musically and socially, they seemed to have little in common. More importantly, however, Cher was just days removed from the end of her marriage to Sonny Bono, which drummed up a year’s worth of lurid gossip, derailed the couple’s hit variety show, and sparked a custody battle over their daughter Chastity.

If Cher’s private life appeared too unstable for a new relationship, Allman’s professional life was headed for just as much tumult. The other members of the Allman Brothers Band were reportedly none too happy with his attention-getting relationship, and larger problems loomed on the horizon — including the DEA sting that would result in Allman testifying against roadie Scooter Herring and ultimately breaking up the band.

Those woes still lay ahead in early 1975, however, when Allman crossed paths with Cher at a solo gig in Los Angeles. Later recounting that she “smelled like I would imagine a mermaid would smell,” Allman wrote in his memoir that he “didn’t say hello or nothing at all, because I was so blinded by her.” As it turned out, he didn’t need to — Cher, at the club on a date with record mogul David Geffen, ended up giving Allman her number anyway.

After a disastrous first date, the duo decided to give it another shot and went out dancing — not a natural activity for Allman, but one he worked himself up to with some chemical assistance. “I don’t know how to dance, but I got drunk enough to where I did,” he wrote. “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.”

The bloom wore off fairly quickly. Allman and Cher were wed on June 30, 1975; nine days later, Cher filed for divorce because, as Entertainment Weekly later put it, she “found that Allman’s heroin and liquor problems were too much for her to handle.” In fact, she claimed Allman was “so high he didn’t even understand me” when she broke it off — which was just as well, because she quickly ended up deciding to give the marriage another chance.

They weren’t done breaking up yet, however. Allman was the next to file for divorce — as he told People, moving to Los Angeles did a number on him emotionally, and he became convinced the marriage was doomed no matter what. “I thought I didn’t fit in,” he explained. “I filed for divorce because I was afraid it would come from her first.”

The couple reconciled yet again after they discovered Cher was pregnant, and by the time their son Elijah Blue entered the world on July 10, 1976, they’d settled into their version of domestic bliss. Allman resumed his solo career in earnest, putting together a band and cutting his Playin’ Up a Storm LP — and the couple even entered the studio together, recording an album titled Two the Hard Way as Allman and Woman.

It wasn’t meant to last. The Two the Hard Way album was critically lambasted and ignored by fans — and the tour they attempted together ended in disaster, according to Allman, because their disparate fanbases didn’t mesh well. The album arrived in November of 1977; by January of 1978, they were divorced for the final time. “Dead weight starts out as dead weight and ends up just the same,” Cher shrugged. “I don’t know why I waited so long.”

If their marriage didn’t last long, their relationship has remained a constant source of fascination for celebrity onlookers — and they continued to maintain a bond through Elijah Blue, who’s publicly admitted to enduring an occasionally turbulent childhood, but carved out a niche for himself in the family business as a musician in his own right. Happily ever after wasn’t in the cards for Allman and Cher, but as she told People in 1978 after starting a new relationship with Kiss co-founder Gene Simmons, she could still see the good in the time they spent together.

“Nobody ever made me feel as happy as Gregory did,” mused Cher. “God, he’s wonderful. I don’t understand why he can’t see it. He’s the kindest, most gentle, loving husband and father. But then, he forgets and everything goes to s—.”

When Allman passed away on May 27, 2017, Cher paid loving tribute to her former husband, saying “words are impossible.”

Next: Top 10 Gregg Allman Songs

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