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President Jimmy Carter Awards Allman With Honorary Degree

Jimmy Carter gives honorary doctorate to Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Gregg Allman and says he wouldn't have been president without him.

Former president Jimmy Carter bestowed an honorary doctorate on Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Gregg Allman Saturday - paying the Southern rock icon back for the support he'd been given 40 years before.

Allman, the longtime keyboard player and vocalist for The Allman Brothers Band, received the honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Mercer University in Macon, where the band spent its early years.

And Carter, who came to Mercer University the weekend, was there to present the award, told the crowd he might not have been president if the band hadn't 'adopted' him.

Allman was awarded the doctorate, the university said, 'in recognition of a truly extraordinary accomplishment in creative work.'

The university has only bestowed the doctorate of Humanities on musicians twice before: Once for Chuck Leavell, also a member of the Allman Brothers Band, and again for rock 'n' roll pioneer Little Richard.

Carter is a member of Mercer's Board of Trustees. In his speech to the graduating students, he exhorted they work for peace and human rights.

Before the ceremony, Allman played a heartfelt "Sweet Melissa" to the graduating class and explained the origin of the song. He wrote the lyrics about a woman he imagined while living life on the road, and named her Melissa after a woman he saw in the grocery store. He also performed "Midnight Rider." 

Congratualtions to Dr. Gregg Allman and the Mercer Class of 2016!