Pegi Young, the singer-songwriter who was married to Neil Young for 36 years, has died following a yearlong battle with cancer. She was 66.
Young, whose maiden name was Pegi Morton, passed away on Tuesday, Jan. 1, in California. News of her death, which comes a year after she was diagnosed with cancer, was announced in a short statement on her official Instagram account.
“With great sadness, we confirm that on January 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 California,” the statement reads. “We request that the families’ privacy be respected at this time.”
Born in San Mateo, California, Young married Neil Young in 1978 after they had met four years earlier when she was a waitress. During the early years of their marriage, Young devoted herself almost entirely to raising their two children, son Ben and daughter Amber.
In 1986, the couple co-founded the Bridge School, an educational program aimed at aiding children with severe speech and physical impediments, after they had difficulty finding a suitable school for their own son, who suffers from cerebral palsy.
Beginning in 1994, Young began singing background vocals for her husband, making her public debut as part of his band for a performance of “Philadelphia” at the 1994 Academy Awards. In 2000, she joined Neil on tour as a backup singer and later released a self-titled solo LP in 2007, followed in 2010 and 2011 by two further records, Foul Deeds and Bracing for Impact.
In 2014, Neil filed for divorce from Young following 36 years of marriage. Years later, in 2016, Young released Raw.
“We were having a rough patch. But I never would’ve thought in a million years we would be getting divorced. So, yeah, there was a bit of a shock value there,” Young told Rolling Stone of the divorce, revealing that Raw was a reflection of the emotions she experienced.0comments
“It told a story,” she told Rolling Stone about Raw. “I kind of look at it as a soundtrack to the seven stages of grief. You’ve got anger, then shock and disbelief. As we go through the album, the later songs show my growth and… I can’t say total acceptance, but I think the last song, that wonderful Don Henley song [“The Heart of the Matter”], talks about forgiveness. That’s really where it’s at, you know?”
Young is survived by her two children with Neil, who has not yet commented on her death.