The truth about Neil and Pegi Young’s divorce

Neil Young first saw Pegi Morton in 1974. She waited tables at the Bella Vista Diner near his ranch in La Honda, California. “I’ve never seen a woman look more beautiful. I used to order just to see her float across the floor,” he sings in 1992’s Unknown Legend, which chronicles their romantic journey. Young was ending a relationship with actress Carrie Snodgress, who died in 2004, when he met his future wife, Pegi Morton. The couple dated for five years before going their separate ways in 1975, and they had one son together, Zeke Young.

Neil was walking down the aisle with Pegi three years later, in August 1978. According to her website, Pegi was a “true hippie nomad” before the two said “I do.” She’d roamed the States with her dog, setting up her teepee and camping wherever she pleased. So it must have been quite an adjustment, settling down in married life, even with an “anti-establishment singer” who was “a hippie counterculture figure,” according to Salon.

But the couple made it. Neil and Pegi welcomed two children, daughter Amber Young and son Ben Young. They collaborated creatively and strived to make the world a better place. Neil and Pegi seemed to have forged one of the rare partnerships in the music world that would last forever. In 2014, after 36 years of marriage, it was over. So what caused Neil and Pegi Young’s divorce?

Divorce of Neil and Pegi Young

Neil and Pegi Young’s divorce shocked fans. The couple seemed to have one of the strongest marriages in the business. They were married for 36 years, shared two children and worked together regularly. Pegi was a waitress when she first met Neil, but she was a talented singer and songwriter. She appeared on a number of his tracks and they often performed live. She also had a music career of her own.

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Pegi sang “Philadelphia” with Neil at the 1994 Oscars and they toured together. She joined him on stage during his 1983 retro tour in the ’50s and was a backup singer on his Summer 200 Friends and Relatives tour. The two founded the Bridge School in 1986. Zeke Young, Neil’s son from his previous relationship with Carrie Snodgress, has cerebral palsy. So does Neil and Pegi’s son, Ben Young, while their daughter suffers from epilepsy. According to the school’s website, it offers “creative approaches to education and communication” for children with severe physical and language disabilities. After the school opened, Neil and Pegi started a local annual benefit concert with all proceeds benefitting the facility.

Pegi knew couples needed their space. “We like doing things together, we hang out, we have fun together [but] A little space is always good,” she told Songfacts in 2010. “You can’t live in each other’s back pockets all the time.” Eventually, in 2014, Neil filed for divorce. Why did this legendary couple finally call it quits?

Neil Young moved on, but he never forgot Pegi

Neil and Pegi Young remained silent after the divorce; her music spoke for her. Neil had been alluding to their marital troubles for years. “People say don’t rock the boat, let things take their course. Ideas that once seemed so right are now hard to pronounce,” he sang on 1994’s Days That Used to Be. Meanwhile, Pegi admitted that “Raw” was about her marital breakdown. “It told a story. I see it as the soundtrack to the seven stages of grief,” she told Rolling Stone.

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Within weeks, news broke that Neil was dating Daryl Hannah. “They’ve known each other for years,” a source told Us Weekly. According to People, the singer tied the knot with Hannah during a “small, intimate meeting” on his yacht. Neil confirmed his third marriage in October 2018.

Pegi died of cancer in January 2019 at the age of 66. Neil paid tribute in a statement on his website. He posted the words to “Such a Woman” from his 1992 album Harvest Moon. “Love is a healer. And I love you. No one else can fill me like you do. And I love you. You’re such a woman to me,” the lyrics read. Neil composed the song for his then-wife in 1992. “Thank you, Pegi, for being such a wonderful mother to our children. You live in them and in the many you have touched,” he wrote.