Neil Young has filed for divorce from Pegi, his wife of 36 years, who inspired several of the singer’s greatest love songs.
A petition for dissolution of marriage was filed by Young, 68, in their hometown of San Mateo, California, in late July, it has emerged. A hearing is scheduled for 12 December.
Notorious for switching between a variety of musical collaborators, the divorce ends one of Young’s most enduring stage partnerships.
Neil first met Pegi when she was working as a waitress at a diner near his California ranch. His 1992 song "Unknown Legend" tells their story. He sang: “I used to order just to watch her float across the floor. She grew up in a small town, Never put her roots down.”
She joined Young’s band as a back-up back singer in the 1990s, sharing the stage with him at the 1994 Academy Awards and numerous tours.
Pegi, 61, is a singer-songwriter in her own right and the couple were scheduled to play together at the Farm Aid benefit in North Carolina on 13 September. Pegi was recently removed from the line-up.
Pegi also co-founded The Bridge School in 1986 with her husband, inspired by the lack of educational opportunities for their son Ben, who suffers from a severe form of cerebral palsy. Neil’s son Zeke, from his first marriage, also suffers from the condition.
Each year, the couple, who also have a grown-up daughter called Amber, hosted an all-star concert to raise funds for the Bridge’s educational programme for children with severe speech difficulties. The California show last October was the final time Neil and Pegi performed together.
Pegi had set aside her own musical ambitions to help bring up Ben and work as a director of the Bridge, only releasing her first solo album, aged 55. She said then: “Family is at the centre. Then the Bridge School and the music are an extension of that. My son has health issues and a lot of disability and that meant putting some things that I enjoyed doing aside for a while.”
Neil encouraged Pegi’s solo career and invited her to become his support act on a 2008 European tour. She released three solo albums and completed regular club tours whilst her husband headlined festivals and arena shows.
Pegi has said her relationship with Neil took time to blossom. “It didn't work right away. I really sensed that this man needed a friend so we became friends then got to know each other later. We like each other. We get on. He's enormously interesting to me and I hope that's mutual.”