Neil Young ends involvement in Bridge School Benefit Concert

The legendary songwriter cited "personal reasons" for his departure, as the future of the all-star event is thrown into doubt

Neil Young

The Bridge School Benefit, the annual charity concert organized by Neil Young and Pegi Young, will not take place in 2017. It’s future beyond that is unclear, as Neil Young will “no longer be hosting” the event.

In a statement, the legendary songwriter cited “personal reasons” for his departure, but did not offer further explanation. It’s worth noting that he and Pegi ended their 36-year marriage in 2014, though they did collaborate on two further installments of the concert. Earlier this year, Young was forced to cancel an appearance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony due to an undisclosed health issue.

Young said he would “continue in fund raising efforts” for the Bridge School. He also thanked his former wife for “coming up with the idea and pursuing it with such great dedication, working for the kids like our child Ben, young children with disabilities who needed more than our education system offered.”

In her own statement, Pegi Young suggested the Bridge School will now look for alternative avenues to achieve its endowment goals.

The Bridge School Benefit Concert was begun in 1986 to raise money for the Bridge School, a non-profit organization which assists children with severe physical impairments and complex communication needs. Traditionally featuring acoustic sets, the concert has welcomed everyone from Metallica, to Roger Waters, to Arcade Fire over the course of its 30-year history.

Read both Neil Young and Pegi Young’s statements below.

Neil Young:

“After thirty years of hosting the Bridge School Concerts, I would like to say thanks to everyone involved. Of course, I love the students most of all because the light in their eyes tells me we have been doing the right thing for the last thirty years. We have earned millions of dollars and the school is stable financially, able to go forward although we still need an endowment and would welcome one.

Thanks to Pegi Young for coming up with the idea and pursuing it with such great dedication, working for the kids like our child Ben, young children with disabilities who needed more than our education system offered. Our heartfelt thanks and appreciation go to the artists who have been so generous with their time and great performances. Certainly, my love and appreciation go to Executive Director Vicki Casella, who has given 100% to skillfully support and guide the school over the years. Thank you to our wonderful staff, made up of the finest educators I have ever known. I would also like to thank the Board of Directors for their dedicated efforts on behalf of our students and Bridge School mission.

My long-time friends, manager Elliot Roberts and agent Marsha Vlasic have been putting these concerts together and gathering the incredible artist line ups year after year. Thanks to you both and to Frank Gironda for all the work you’ve put into the event. I would also like to thank Tim Foster and the crews he has ably led while handling production of the concerts and making everything so easy for us. Great job Tim.

The Bridge School Concerts would never have been possible without Bill Graham and BGP, as well as Another Planet Productions. Thanks to Jerry Pompili and all the people who worked for these production organizations and made our wonderful concerts so easy for everyone.

To the Bridge School Community, the folks who attend the concerts year after year bringing their wonderful enthusiasm and love, I say thanks and lots of love to every one of you. You are the soul that kept everything happening for all these years. I know the concerts have become part of the Bay Area Landscape and we were all there together. I appreciate being part of it.

Although I will continue in fund raising efforts, for personal reasons beginning this year I will no longer be hosting The Bridge School Concert. I wish everyone the best as the school heads into the future. My heart is with each and every child we have had the honor to serve and those we will continue to serve, and your parents, siblings, and extended families. Thanks to you all for the honor of serving such a great mission. Thanks to my incredible son Ben Young for being there at my side throughout these many Bridge School years. I love you buddy. The Bridge School would not have been possible without you.”

Pegi Young:

“The Bridge School Benefit Concert, traditionally held at Shoreline Amphitheatre, will not be held in 2017. We want to express our sincere and profound thanks to all of you for your love and support, demonstrated by way of your attendance at 30 years of Bridge School Benefit Concerts. They have been truly memorable events and we have great appreciation for everyone who has been involved beginning, of course, with Neil Young and including all the many artists who have been so generous with their time and talent; the production people who have made it all possible; Elliot Roberts and the team at Lookout Management as well as Marsha Vlasic, who have been so instrumental in booking the shows all these years; the Bridge School staff and families and last, but certainly not least, the audience to whom the show has brought such enjoyment over these many years.

Because our mission is of such great importance to so many, we proceed onward with optimism into the future. Stay tuned for updates as we begin to shape what the next steps will be in reaching our endowment goals.

On behalf of the Bridge School family, I wish to thank you again from the bottom of my heart for your love and support as we work to bring opportunities and “participation through communication” to our student population here at home and around the world.

With peace, love, and sincere gratitude.”