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Allman reflects on Cher

"I thought, 'Well, why not?' I cared about her quite a bit. Well, I cared about one side of her. Couldn't stand the General Patton side. But I did love the helpless little girl side of her."

That's rocker Gregg Allman in the new issue of Rolling Stone, writing about accepting Cher's proposal that they marry in Las Vegas, after six months of dating. This is an anecdote culled from an excerpt of Allman's coming memoir, "My Cross to Bear."

President Obama is on the cover of Rolling Stone. As a politically concerned citizen, I knew I should have headed straight for the president's interview with Jann Wenner, the magazine's editor and publisher. But the gossip columnist in me took over. I know nothing of Gregg Allman's music, though I know he is highly regarded. He lives in my mind as that long-haired blond guy with the drug problem who Cher married in 1975, filed for divorce from four days later, then reconciled with, had his baby, Elijah Blue, and split from for good in 1977. (In between all this, Cher got back together with Sonny Bono, professionally for one last go at their variety program. It was hot stuff, believe me!)

Anyway, I went right to Allman's memories of Cher. "She smelled like what I imagine a mermaid would smell -- I've never smelled it since and I'll never forget it," Allman writes of his first encounter with Cher, at a nightclub in Hollywood. They had a disastrous first date. The second was better -- "we made some serious love!"

Allman, at least not in this excerpt, doesn't diss Cher, or reveal the "General Patton" side of her. Gregg writes: "I had never done anything to hurt her; I'd hurt and degraded myself with drugs and booze." Perhaps he doesn't realize that Cher was hurt and degraded by his heroin use. To watch somebody you care about self-destruct, not only arouses feelings of anger, but self-doubt -- "Why can't I stop him? What's wrong with me?"

Gregg also mentions Chaz Bono, formerly known as Chastity. Speaking to the issue of Chaz's gender alteration, Gregg says: "It's not your everyday thing, but I just hope he's happy and I wish him a very long, successful life." It's that kind of sweet sensitivity -- note Gregg's use of gender identification -- that attracted Cher to Allman in the first place. And I suppose all that "serious lovin' " played a part, too.

* * *

Speaking of Cher, remember when she won the Oscar in 1988 for "Moonstruck"? How could you forget? The star wore one bauble, one bangle, one bead and half a prayer. She lost her earring on the way to the podium, and thanked her makeup man, forgetting all about her brilliant co-stars.

Another memorable aspect of the night was Sally Kirkland's sour expression when Cher's name was announced as winner. Kirkland had received raves for her dramatic performance in "Anna." Despite the groundswell of love for Cher and "Moonstruck," many critics felt Kirkland was the one to beat. Apparently, Sally thought so too. She couldn't put on the loser's "happy" face as Cher sauntered to the winner's circle.

But she recovered and has worked steadily ever since, collecting awards and kudos. On April 21, Sally received the 2012 "Remi" Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival. Previous winners include Catherine Deneuve and Elizabeth Taylor.