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Author: Subject: 1,200 Mourn Music Legend

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  posted on 4/27/2006 at 06:31 PM

1,200 Mourn Music Legend
Pioneer Phil Walden's 'roller coaster' life recalled

By RICHARD L. ELDREDGE
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 04/27/2006

Welcoming mourners into the Cathedral of St. Philip on Wednesday afternoon at Southern music pioneer Phil Walden's funeral, the Rev. John Mark Wiggers quipped: "We're doing this here today because this is where Phil worshipped. And because we're not going to judge a bunch of rock 'n' rollers."

Just as he did in life by helping to introduce the world to Otis Redding, the Allman Brothers, Widespread Panic, 311 and a certain Plains peanut farmer future president, Walden used the occasion of his passing to put on one last sold-out spectacle.


Rock legend Little Richard acknowledges a fellow mourner after speaking about his friend Phil Walden at Wednesday's service at the Cathedral of St. Philip. The Macon native said, 'I'm so grateful I got to meet this man. Phil was a genius in his own light.'



Family and friends follow the casket out of the church after Wednesday's service. More than 1,200 people attended.



Phil Walden, a founder of Capricorn Records, died of cancer Sunday at his home in Buckhead at age 66.


Walden, 66, a founder of Capricorn Records, died of cancer Sunday at his Buckhead home. More than 1,200 attendees packed into the sand-colored marble and brick Buckhead sanctuary for the 2 p.m. service. Walden will be buried in Macon today.

Former Carter administration White House Chief of Staff Hamilton Jordan, whose friendship with Walden spanned five decades, told the assembled, "Be assured, Phil is not happy to be here. But he is happy to be the center of our attention here today."

Jordan recalled meeting Walden as a 16-year-old growing up in South Georgia, "a place where I didn't meet a Catholic or a Republican until I was 18." He also praised Walden's fund-raising help in getting Jimmy Carter elected president in 1976.

"Many people who helped us in 1976 ended up wanting something," he said. "But Phil never asked us for a single thing." Jordan paused and added: "Although I'm sure Phil would have appreciated an ambassadorship."

Longtime Atlanta attorney and friend Robert Steed reminisced about a 1962 meeting with Walden where he asked for Steed's help in getting a then-20-year-old Redding out of an old recording contract so he could sign with Stax Records.

"Otis was under 21 when he signed the contract," Steed said. "So Phil had a way to get Otis out of the contract. What he didn't have was the $50 to pay for it."

The 100-minute service didn't shy away from Walden's well-known "roller coaster ride of a life" as old friend and former CNN chairman Tom Johnson characterized it. Walden was remembered for his generosity and his love of friends and family but also for his descent into and his recovery from bankruptcy and drug and alcohol abuse.

"If you don't have a dark side, this business will give you one," observed Electric Factory concert promoter Larry Magid, who flew in from Philadelphia for his friend's service. "Phil's the stuff writers turn into novels," Magid said. "Yet he was anything but fiction."

Heartfelt, emotional letters from Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter and Gregg Allman were read during the service. And like any great rock show, there was one surprise guest star not included in the funeral program.

Sporting dark sunglasses, rock legend and Macon native Little Richard took to the pulpit to remember his friend who, as a ninth-grader, first sneaked into the balcony at Macon's City Auditorium to see the future Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer open a show for Amos Milburn.

Remembering his work with Redding, Little Richard recalled: "For Phil to work with a young black guy back then was hard. I was there. I know. I'm so grateful that I got to meet this man. Phil was a genius in his own light."

Then, in a cathedral filled with attendees like Widespread Panic vocalist John Bell, concert promoter Peter Conlon, Allman Brothers Band guitarist Dickie Betts, Tinsley Ellis, Col. Bruce Hampton, Redding's widow Zelma, sons Otis III and Dexter and daughter Karla, and entire rows of former Capricorn Records employees, Little Richard offered a five-minute sermon.

"Jesus is coming," he told the crowd as mourners marveled at the service's abrupt detour. "Get down on your knees and talk to God." The rock pianist drew laughs when he ended by adding: "I'm not a preacher but I feel like one today!"

Sitting in a back pew, 360 Media owner Tara Murphy, whose business has been located in the same Walton Street downtown building as Walden's record labels since 1997, just smiled.

Trying to suppress a laugh, Murphy conceded: "Phil would have loved all that."

 

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  posted on 4/27/2006 at 07:45 PM
The AJC has featured two nice stories this week on Phil Walden.
 

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  posted on 4/27/2006 at 07:51 PM
I have heard, but have seen no confirmation in print, that Phil will be buried at Rose Hill. Anyone here know?

 

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  posted on 4/27/2006 at 08:49 PM
He was laid to rest in Rose Hill today.

 

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  posted on 4/27/2006 at 08:49 PM
quote:
I have heard, but have seen no confirmation in print, that Phil will be buried at Rose Hill. Anyone here know?




Yes. According to the obit in The Atlanta Journal and Constitution the funeral service was held at St. Phillips Cathedral on Peachtree Street in Atlanta on Wednesday.

A graveside service to be held on Thursday at Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon.


 

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  posted on 4/27/2006 at 09:07 PM
thank you for that post
 

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  posted on 4/27/2006 at 09:35 PM
Is he laid in close proximity to Brothers Duane and Berry?

[Edited on 4/28/2006 by BigDaveOnBass]

 

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  posted on 4/27/2006 at 09:40 PM
Thanks, Hop!

 

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  posted on 4/27/2006 at 10:11 PM
Is he laid in close proximity to Brothers Duane and Berry?

No. From what I understand he's not close to them at all. And therein is an interesting story by itself.

 

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  posted on 4/28/2006 at 01:45 AM
Yes, thanks for the article and photos, Hop. It's nice that Dickey was there.

 

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  posted on 4/28/2006 at 11:35 AM
quote:
Is he laid in close proximity to Brothers Duane and Berry?

No. From what I understand he's not close to them at all. And therein is an interesting story by itself.
From the 4-27-06 Macon Telegraph:

Walden was buried in the old part of Rose Hill per his wishes. Originally, it was thought there wasn't an available plot in that part of the cemetery - where Allman, Elizabeth Reed (namesake of an Allman Brothers song) and Allman Brothers bassist Berry Oakley also are buried - but a plot that Walden had bought and sold to the city in the 1970s and had remained unsold was available.


 

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  posted on 4/28/2006 at 05:52 PM
phil is buried to the left of the main entrance on the other main ridge that leads to joseph bond's grave. a very beautiful spot with a nice view of the cemetary.
 

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  posted on 4/28/2006 at 08:08 PM
Thanks for the post, Ron.

Thanks for the location info, pwaldenjr. Will pay my respects the next time I'm in Macon.

RIP Phil...

 

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  posted on 4/28/2006 at 08:35 PM
quote:
Will pay my respects the next time I'm in Macon. RIP Phil...


I will too...

 

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  posted on 4/28/2006 at 08:53 PM
>>> Remembering his work with Redding, Little Richard recalled: "For Phil to work with a young black guy back then was hard. I was there. I know. I'm so grateful that I got to meet this man. Phil was a genius in his own light.">>>

I would love to read a transcript.

 

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  posted on 4/29/2006 at 08:36 PM
quote:
............ It's nice that Dickey was there.



From what I gather about Gregg, he is a pesrson that avoids conflict and confrontation. I was wondering if the fact that Dickey attended was the reason that Gregg didn't. Any thoughts?

 

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  posted on 4/29/2006 at 08:53 PM
quote:
quote:
............ It's nice that Dickey was there.



From what I gather about Gregg, he is a pesrson that avoids conflict and confrontation. I was wondering if the fact that Dickey attended was the reason that Gregg didn't. Any thoughts?


No one knew that Dickey would be there and Gregg had already spoken with someone about not being able to attend. There was no conflict with Dickey that kept him away.

 

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  posted on 4/29/2006 at 10:23 PM
The last I heard Dickey was not speaking to Phil. Some bad things have been said about Dickey on this site, some of them by me. But let me be the first to say that his attending Phil's memorial says a good deal about Dickey's character and his ability to put his (admitedly fierce) anger behind him to do a classy thing. My question is where were the rest of the band? Where was Butch and particularly Jaimoe, who had a relationship with Phil going back to the days of Otis Redding?

Doug

 

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  posted on 4/29/2006 at 10:57 PM
But let me be the first to say that his attending Phil's memorial says a good deal about Dickey's character and his ability to put his (admitedly fierce) anger behind him to do a classy thing.

I agree....Dickey was a class act all the way for being there.

 

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  posted on 4/30/2006 at 08:30 AM
I think they all had a relationship with Phil and that means all the roadies as well. They were all considered as one in ( that was Duane ).. The Band as I read in Red Dog's Book... I guess life's happens as we move on from day to day and S**t happens to the best of friends and working conditions and whenever there is money involved. With out Phil as stated their would be no us ...here... well I think you get that picture. I only know what I've read. I take Joe Campbell's and Willie Perkins account as gospel. If the actual Band members were to write their memoir's... we would get the whole puzzle solved. But , on the original comment . Yes, I think Dickey Betts has a huge heart and it's wonderful he remembered his Old Friend what that meant to him personally. Those are mighty big boots !!! I guess all the other original members had engagements and couldn't be there, I live in a dream world at times.

ps while I'm at it... I hope all those in the known tolerate my postings.. I really know nothing except that I'm a huge and respectful fan and I do feel part of the lives of these people because they have touched mine in a way no one ever could... Thanks

peace to Phil

 

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  posted on 4/30/2006 at 11:55 AM
i was honored that dickey attended since i am first and foremost an abb fanatic. i was equally honored that gregg called and wrote such a beautiful letter. the fact that the band made a statement acknowledging phil was also a wonderful thing. they also sent some very beautiful flowers. some folks just dont like funerals or have unavoidable conflicts, a list that included many close friends. sort of an aside,but kenny chesney did fly in for the funeral, and stated that although he may not be otis redding or an allman,he was proud to have been championed by the same man that championed those great artists. few people realize that capricorn put out kenny"s first cd. when we all figured out that none iof us liked country music (at least not the kind that was selling records) we shut the country division down and sold kenny"s contract to RCA. if anyone ever saw his video for "wahtever it takes", my sister, amantha plays the female lead.
 

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  posted on 4/30/2006 at 03:14 PM
quote:
few people realize that capricorn put out kenny"s first cd. when we all figured out that none iof us liked country music (at least not the kind that was selling records) we shut the country division down and sold kenny"s contract to RCA. if anyone ever saw his video for "wahtever it takes", my sister, amantha plays the female lead.

is there ever a time when y'all could kick your own butts? i don't like country music either, but i understand he is kinda big now.

 

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  posted on 5/24/2006 at 07:42 PM
I don't have much to add other than I really respected what Phil Walden meant to the Allman Brothers and I was shocked and saddened to hear of his death. If anyone needs to know how Phil felt about the Allman Brothers, they should try to see CMT's spcial on Southern Rock. I think you will be able to see the love and admiration he had for the Allman Brothers.

My sincere condolences to Phil Walden Jr. and his family.

 

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  posted on 5/24/2006 at 08:22 PM
Even as recently as the last time I saw Phil a little over a year ago he was still hoping one day he could do another album with the Allman Brothers. Whatever else may have happened, that man believed in the band!

 

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  posted on 5/24/2006 at 08:30 PM
quote:
Even as recently as the last time I saw Phil a little over a year ago he was still hoping one day he could do another album with the Allman Brothers. Whatever else may have happened, that man believed in the band!


BigAnn, how about just one more ABB album with Johnny's touch?

 

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