Singer/songwriter and Bridge School co-founder Pegi Young (who was married to Neil Young for 36 years) passed away on January 1 following a yearlong battle with cancer. She was 66. The news broke on her 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 her native California. We request that the families’ privacy be respected at this time.”
Rolling Stone writes:
In the early years of their marriage, Young devoted herself nearly full-time to raising their daughter Amber and son Ben, the latter born with cerebral palsy. But in 1994, she began singing background vocals for her husband, starting at the Academy Awards when she joined him on “Philadelphia.” Six years later, she hit the road with him on the Friends and Relatives tour and became a mainstay in his band over the next decade. “When I started touring with him, I get treated pretty much like any other band member,” she told Songfacts in 2011. “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.”
In 2007, Young recorded her self-titled debut LP with keyboardist Spooner Oldham, guitarist Anthony Crawford, bassist Rick Rosas and pedal steel guitarist Ben Keith. She went on to record four more albums and tour extensively. “I think it’s somewhat of a natural progression,” she told the Boston Herald in 2010. “I was writing and singing and playing a bit in my own fashion when I was younger, before Neil and I got together [in 1974]. It was a return to a longtime love of mine. I think it is up to me to do the best job I can do. I don’t take it casually. I’m not the next young hot thing.”
In addition to her music career, Young devoted much of her time and energy to the Bridge School. She founded the esteemed institution in 1986 to help kids like Ben that have severe speech and physical impairments. The annual Bridge School Benefit in Mountain View, California continually attracts A-level talent and helps raise money for the school. David Bowie, the Who and a Temple of the Dog reunion have all highlighted the annual event.
Rest in peace, Pegi.
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