Musician and activist Pegi Young, who helped found the Bridge School for special needs children and started a series of all-star benefit concerts with her ex-husband Neil Young, has died. An announcement on her Facebook page confirmed that Young died Jan. 1 after a battle with cancer. She was 66.
“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,” read the announcement on her Facebook page, which appeared along with the photo below.
Neil and Pegi Young were married from 1978 to 2014 and had two children together: son Ben, 41, and daughter Amber, 35. Neil Young remarried in 2018, marrying actress Daryl Hannah.
“Pegi was motivated to co-found the Bridge School in 1986 after she couldn’t find an appropriate educational program for Ben, who has cerebral palsy,” USA Today reports. “The Bay Area educational facility caters to students with severe speech and physical impairments between preschool and fifth grade. It places an emphasis on ‘developing augmentative and alternative communication systems’ to help students communicate and participate in classroom activities.”
The school has been funded in part by the annual Bridge School Benefit Concert, which launched in 1986 and ran almost every year through 2016. The concert featured acoustic performances by Neil Young along with other top artists such as Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Jerry Garcia & Bob Weir, Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Pearl Jam and many others.