Neil Young met Margaret "Pegi" Morton in 1974 while she was employed as a waitress near his home in La Honda, Calif. It's believed that she was the inspiration for the opening lines of "Unknown Legend," a song from his 1992 album Harvest Moon: "She used to work in a diner / Never saw a woman look finer / I used to order just to watch her float across the floor."

At the time, Pegi -- who died on Jan. 1, 2019, following a yearlong battle with cancer -- was a self-described "bona fide hippie nomad," living with her dog in a teepee that she purchased two years earlier for $200. Neil was married to actress Carrie Snodgrass at the time, but the couple divorced in 1975. Neil and Pegi married three years later.

Shortly afterward, their first child, Ben, was born with a severe case of cerebral palsy. Unable to find a school equipped to handle his needs, the couple co-founded the Bridge School in Hillsborough, Calif., in 1986. Its benefit concerts, held every year but one from 1986-2016, have attracted such names as Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, Elvis Costello and Pearl Jam over the years.

The couple also has a daughter, Amber Jean, and another son with cerebral palsy, Zeke, from Young's earlier marriage to Snodgrass.

Pegi also accompanied her husband on tour, at first staying behind the scenes but later occasionally joining him onstage as a backup singer. As she told Billboard, it was both a continuation of her hippie past and her desire to keep the family close as Young traveled for work.

"We wanted to be together as a family," she said. "So when we could, we lived like gypsies and just lived on the bus and traveled together. I tried to keep a real balance of normality in our family, and I guarded our privacy fiercely."

Even though she wrote poetry as a child and songs as a teenager, she didn't take center stage until 2007, when she released an album. Her self-titled debut was intended to be mostly covers, she said, but she was convinced to record her own work, which included two songs written during "the teepee years."

Two more albums, Foul Deeds (2010) and Bracing for Impact (2011), followed. But the couple split in 2014, with Neil marrying Daryl Hannah, reportedly in August 2018. Pegi channeled her feelings into the last record released in her lifetime, 2017's Raw, which featured self-penned tracks like "Why," "Gave My Best to You," "You Won't Take My Laugh Away From Me" and "A Thousand Tears," alongside covers of Don Henley's "The Heart of the Matter," Otis Clay's "Trying to Live My Life Without You" and Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Were Made for Walkin'."

Pegi was 66 at the time of her death.

 

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