Pegi Young, singer married to Neil Young for over 3 decades, dies at 66

Pegi Young, a U.S.-born singer-songwriter who was married to Canadian artist Neil Young for 36 years and had performed with him, has died at age 66 after a yearlong battle with cancer.

U.S.-born Pegi Young released 5 albums, including one in 2017, after surprising split from Canadian singer

Pegi Young performs with the Survivors on April 24, 2015, in Indio, Calif. Young has died at age 66 after a year-long battle with cancer. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Stagecoach)

Pegi Young, a U.S.-born singer-songwriter who was married to Canadian artist Neil Young for 36 years, has died at age 66 after a battle with cancer. 

In a Facebook post late Wednesday, her family said she died in her native California on New Year's Day following a yearlong cancer fight.

Pegi and Neil Young separated and divorced in 2014. Their two children are daughter Amber and son Ben, a quadriplegic who at a young age was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Pegi Young was the inspiration for some of Neil's love songs, including Such a Woman, Unknown Legend and Once an Angel.

She began as his background singer in the 1990s, sharing the stage with him at the 1994 Academy Awards and numerous tours over the course of 20 years.

She had released five solo albums since 2007 and toured extensively on her own, occasionally with Neil on guitar.

In a Rolling Stone interview in 2016 to promote her last release, Raw, she admitted despite some struggles late in the marriage, she was surprised by its sudden end.

"I never would've thought in a million years we would be getting divorced," she said. "So, yeah, there was a bit of a shock value there."

Pegi and Neil Young, shown at a 2012 charity event in Los Angeles, founded a California school to cater to children with severe disabilities, inspired by the struggles of their son, who was born with cerebral palsy. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images For The Recording Academy)

In his 2012 book Waging Heavy Peace, Neil Young credited his wife for her support through the successes and difficulties during their marriage, which included each undergoing brain surgery at different points for separate ailments.

Pegi Young also founded the Bridge School with her former husband, for children with severe disabilities.

He said his wife was the "catalyst" for the series of Bridge School benefit concerts that began in 1986 to help fund the school.

"She just blurted out, 'Why don't we just call your friends and put on concerts to raise money and start a school? We could get Bruce Springsteen!'" he wrote. "I just looked at her, dumfounded by this audacious idea."

Springsteen would indeed perform at the benefits through the years, as would performers across genres, including Elton John, Nine Inch Nails, and Canadian artists Arcade Fire, Diana Krall and Sarah McLachlan.

There were over two dozen such benefits before it was announced that the 2016 edition was the final show.

With files from CBC News