(CelebrityAccess) Pegi Young, 66, former wife of Neil Young and a founder of the Bridge School and its yearly benefit show, died after a yearlong battle with cancer Jan. 1.
Young “passed away surrounded by her friends and family in her native California,” according to a statement on her Instagram account. “We request that the families’ privacy be respected at this time.”
Young married Neil Young after a period of infatuation by the singer-songwriter, who would visit Pegi as she worked as a waitress a diner near Neil’s ranch. “I used to order just to watch her float across the floor,” he said, and many songs were inspired by her though the years including “Unknown Legend,” “Harvest Moon” and “Such An Angel,” as noted by Rolling Stone.
Young spent the early years of the couple’s marriage dedicated to raising their two children, including Ben, who was born with cerebral palsy. She founded the Bridge School in 1986 to help kids like Ben who have severe speech and physical concerns. Before then, Pegi became a backup singer for her husband and was a traveling member of his band.
“When I started touring with him, I get treated pretty much like any other band member,” Pegi told Songfacts recently. “He certainly doesn’t cut me any more slack than anybody else. If he wants to hear something a certain way, he’s the clear boss, leader of the band.”
Young is credited with recruiting a red-hot Bruce Springsteen to perform at the first Bridge School Benefit concert in 1986. The annual benefit concert at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Calif., has been the site of several major artist performances through the years, with Neil Young a constant anchor, including after he filed for divorce from Pegi in 2014.