We’re still processing that shocking news that Pegi Young died on January 1st after a short battle with cancer. Not only was she married to Neil Young for 36 years, but she was a gifted singer-songwriter in her own right and as the founder of the Bridge School she was a tireless advocate for children with severe physical and speech impairments. Much of her life was devoted to helping other people, making her sudden loss all the more devastating.
Pegi married Neil in 1977 and was often with him on the road, occasionally joining in on the fun onstage like she did as a member of the Shocking Pinks on his 1983 Fifties retro tour. But she didn’t begin formally singing with him until the 1994 Academy Awards when they did “Philadelphia” together along with Neil’s half-sister Astrid Young. Six years later, Pegi became a backup singer on the Friends and Relatives tour and remained a key component of his band over the next decade. She also began releasing her own albums in 2007 and gigging at clubs around the country.
There were countless great Neil and Pegi live moments in the 2000s, but perhaps their best union of their two voices came when they tackled the 1963 Ian and Sylvia classic “Four Strong Winds.” Neil covered the tune on 1978’s Comes a Time with Nicolette Larson handling the harmony vocals. Those were big shoes for Pegi to fill, but she always rose to the occasion. Here’s a wonderful rendition from Live 8 in 2005.
Neil has yet to comment publicly on the loss of his ex-wife, but yesterday he did make “Harvest Moon” the song of the day on the Neil Young Archives. He attached a note to it that read: “A Baltimore Thrush passes into the moonlight.”