Neil Young, wife Pegi divorcing; she was inspiration for many songs

Neil Young and wife, Pegi, arrive for the 56th Annual Grammy Awards.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Neil Young and his wife and frequent muse Pegi Young are splitting after more than three decades of marriage, according to a dissolution of marriage petition filed July 29 in San Mateo County, Calif.

Neil Young met Pegi, whose full name is Margaret Morton Young, when she was a waitress at a restaurant near his ranch in Northern California. She worked as a backup singer for Young, and in the last decade has released three solo albums, using many of the same musicians who have played with her husband.

Pegi reportedly was the inspiration for many of Young’s songs, among them “Unknown Legend,” “Once an Angel” and “Such a Woman.”


No reason was given for the split. On his 2010 album “Le Noise,” he included “Love and War,” which hinted at marital troubles, without any indication of whether the verse reflected past or present:

The saddest thing in the whole wide world

Is to break the heart of your lover

I made a mistake and I did it again

And we struggled to recover

Neil and Pegi Young last performed together at the 2013 Bridge School concert in Mountain View, Calif., and in January both attended the Grammy Awards’ Producer and Engineers’ Wing pre-Grammy party at which Young was the guest of honor for his long-standing attention to sonic excellence in his recordings. They also attended this year’s Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Both had been booked to appear at this year’s Farm Aid benefit concert Sept. 13 in Raleigh, N.C., but Rolling Stone reports that her name was recently removed from the bill.

Together they spearheaded the creation of the Bridge School for children with severe physical or mental disabilities and have presided over the all-star benefit concerts for the school each fall. Their son, Ben, has cerebral palsy and attended the Bridge School.

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