Neil Young’s Ex-Wife & Bridge School Founder, Pegi Young, Dies

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Pegi Young (Photo via her Facebook page

Pegi Young, the ex-wife of Neil Young, and a singer-songwriter herself, died on January 1, 2019, at age 66, after a battle with cancer.

The activist co-founded The Bridge School, a non-profit organization headquartered in northern California, to benefit individuals with severe speech and physical impairments. The couple’s son, Ben, suffers from cerebral palsy, and was the inspiration for the school.

The first Bridge School Concert, in 1986, an all-star benefit organized by Neil Young and Pegi Young, raised enough funds to open the school in 1987 in Hillsborough, Calif.

For that first event, at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, Calif., the Youngs enlisted the aid of their friends David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, who performed with their onetime bandmate, plus fellow classic rock stars Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Don Henley and Nils Lofgren. Robin Williams was also in that first lineup.

After skipping 1987, the event returned every year with a Who’s Who of musical talent, eager to lend their support. The Bridge School Concerts continued through 2016. In 2017, Neil Young ended his support citing personal reasons and there have been none since.

A friend, Michelle Gutenstein-Hinz, issued an official statement: “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.”

Related: Neil Young statement on Pegi Young

She was born Margaret Morton on December 1, 1952, in San Mateo, Calif. Pegi Young performed with her former husband on numerous occasions, as a backup singer on several tours. In recent years she has fronted her band, the Survivors.

But her legacy is the Bridge School, for which she served as Executive Director for seven years. She served as President of its Board of Directors since its inception.

Through the years, the annual Bridge School Benefit attracted such legends as Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, David Bowie, Elton John, The Who, Willie Nelson, Pearl Jam, Brian Wilson, Simon & Garfunkel, Steve Miller, a reunited Buffalo Springfield, and scores of others, to help the cause. The long list also includes singers Tony Bennett and Tom Jones.

Watch CSNY’s set at the 2013 Benefit

Watch Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ set at the 1994 Benefit

In the announcement of the end of the benefit concerts, Pegi Young wrote: “On behalf of the Bridge School family, I wish to thank you again from the bottom of my heart for your love and support as we work to bring opportunities and ‘participation through communication’ to our student population here at home and around the world.”

Watch Pegi Young & the Survivors

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