Pegi Young, a U.S.-born singer-songwriter who was married to Canadian artist Neil Young for 36 years, has died at age 66 after a battle with cancer.
In a Facebook post late Wednesday, her family said she died in her native California on New Year’s Day following a yearlong cancer fight.
Pegi and Neil Young separated and divorced in 2014. Their two children are daughter Amber and son Ben, a quadriplegic who at a young age was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Pegi Young was the inspiration for some of Neil’s love songs, including Such a Woman, Unknown Legend and Once an Angel.
With great sadness, we confirm that on Jan 1st, after a yearlong battle with cancer, Pegi Young- mother, grandmother, sister, auntie, musician, activist and co-founder of the Bridge School- passed away surrounded by her friends and family in her native CA. <a href=”https://t.co/14bElPjCsI”>https://t.co/14bElPjCsI</a>
She began as his background singer in the 1990s, sharing the stage with him at the 1994 Academy Awards and numerous tours over the course of 20 years.
She had released five solo albums since 2007 and toured extensively on her own, occasionally with Neil on guitar.
In a Rolling Stone interview in 2016 to promote her last release, Raw, she admitted despite some struggles late in the marriage, she was surprised by its sudden end.
“I never would’ve thought in a million years we would be getting divorced,” she said. “So, yeah, there was a bit of a shock value there.”
In his 2012 book Waging Heavy Peace, Neil Young credited his wife for her support through the successes and difficulties during their marriage, which included each undergoing brain surgery at different points for separate ailments.
Pegi Young also founded the Bridge School with her former husband, for children with severe disabilities.
He said his wife was the “catalyst” for the series of Bridge School benefit concerts that began in 1986 to help fund the school.
“She just blurted out, ‘Why don’t we just call your friends and put on concerts to raise money and start a school? We could get Bruce Springsteen!'” he wrote. “I just looked at her, dumfounded by this audacious idea.”
Springsteen would indeed perform at the benefits through the years, as would performers across genres, including Elton John, Nine Inch Nails, and Canadian artists Arcade Fire, Diana Krall and Sarah McLachlan.
There were over two dozen such benefits before it was announced that the 2016 edition was the final show.
NO!!! That’s so awful! She’s such a kind lady! 😳😭