Neil Young's ex-wife and frequent collaborator, Pegi Young, died on January 1st after a brief battle with cancer. She was 66. Rolling Stone quoted a statement on her official Instagram account, which reads: “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 California. We request that the families' privacy be respected at this time.” In 1994 she began singing background with Neil and in 2007 she released the first of her five albums.
Pegi Morton and Neil Young met in 1974 when she was a waitress at a diner near his Northern California ranch. Young chronicled the early days of their courtship in his 1992 song “Unknown Legend.” The couple married in 1978 and had two children — Ben, like Neil's son Zeke from his relationship with Carrie Snodgress — suffers from cerebral palsy — and their daughter Amber battles epilepsy.
Inspired by their children's plight Pegi and Neil Young founded the Bridge School in 1986. The school was created to meet the needs of their children and other families in the Bay Area. Between 1986 and 2016, all proceeds from the pair of October concerts held at Mountain View California's Shoreline Amphitheater went directly to the school, which remains a non-profit organization educating children with severe speech and physical impairments through the use of augmentative and alternative communication systems and assistive technology.
While the Bridge School was still in its infancy in the 1980's, Neil Young outlined the school's ultimate mission: “We're trying to develop a classroom program using computers and different software and hardware to enable these kids to be able to communicate on a level that is with their intelligence.”
In 2014, Neil Young filed for divorce from Pegi and has since married actress Daryl Hannah. At the time of the split, Pegi told Rolling Stone: “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.” The couple's split marked the end of the annual Bridge School benefit concerts, which the couple both appeared at.