Jimmy Carter is usually the one getting honorary degrees and major awards. But on Saturday, the former president turned the tables on Gregg Allman.
Carter, 91, helped Mercer University award Allman an honorary doctorate at the university’s commencement ceremony in Macon. The Allman Brothers, for which Gregg Allman played keyboard and sang vocals, spent their formative years recording at Capricorn Records in Macon.
(Former President Jimmy Carter and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Gregg Allman embrace while Allman receives an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree during Mercer University’s commencement at Hawkins Arena in Macon, Ga., on Saturday, May 14, 2016. (Jason Vorhees/The Macon Telegraph via AP)
Carter is a member of Mercer’s board of trustees, but the Plains native’s connection to Allman goes well beyond Macon and school ties. When Carter began his longshot candidacy for the presidency in 1974, the Allman Brothers and other Capricorn artists supplied crucial early funding.
Indeed, in a video of the event posted online by The Telegraph of Macon, Carter told the commencement audience he might not have been president if the band hadn’t “adopted” him, the Associated Press reported. Drawing laughs from the audience, Carter says the band’s endorsement let people know he “must be qualified to be president of the United States.”
(Jan. 19, 1977 – President-elect Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn say hello to an old friend at an event in Washington D.C. Rock musician Gregg Allman was one of the performers at the Kennedy Center show. (File photo/AP)
Saturday was the second time in recent months that Carter stepped forward to help honor a music great. Back in November, he and his wife, Rosalynn, spent a long day in Memphis helping to build a Habitat for Humanity house along with their longtime friends, the married country greats Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks. That night, Carter exchanged his hard hat and toolbelt for a tuxedo to present Yearwood with the Voice of Music award at the ASCAP Country Music Awards in Nashville.