Brian Wilson, the legendary Beach Boys artist, announced the heartbreaking news of his wife Melinda Ledbetter’s passing at the age of 77.
Brian, 81, shared this deeply personal and tragic news on Instagram Tuesday, along with a poignant pair of images, expressing his profound grief over the loss of his spouse, whom he married in 1995.
“My heart is broken,” Brian stated. “Melinda, my beloved wife of 28 years, passed away this morning. Our five children and I are just in tears. We are lost. Melinda was more than my wife. She was my savior.”
He opened up about their close bond, highlighting how Melinda provided him with the emotional security necessary to continue his illustrious career and encouraged him to create music that resonated deeply with him.
“She was my anchor. She was everything for us. Please say a prayer for her,” he concluded, signing off with “Love and Mercy Brian.”
The couple, parents to five adopted children—Dakota Rose, Daria Rose, Delanie Rose, Dylan, and Dash—shared a deep commitment to their family.
A statement from Brian and Melinda’s children accompanied Wilson’s announcement, describing their late mother as “a force of nature and one of the strongest women you could come by.”
They expressed their profound loss, saying, “It is with a heavy heart that we let everyone know that our mom, Melinda Kay Ledbetter Wilson passed away peacefully this morning at home.”
They remembered her as not just a mother and a model, but as a woman empowered by her spirit, with a mission to better everyone she touched.
The children’s tribute to Melinda reflected on the invaluable life lessons she imparted, teaching them to care for others without expecting anything in return, to find beauty in dark places, and to live life authentically.
They ended their message with a poignant farewell: “We love you mom. Give Grandma Rose and Pa our love.”
Rolling Stone reported that the cause of Melinda’s death was unknown. The story of Brian and Melinda’s relationship began in 1986, when they first met as she sold him a Cadillac. Their on-and-off relationship, which started in 1989, rekindled in 1992 in Los Angeles, leading to their marriage three years later. In a 1998 interview with People, Brian described Melinda as ‘a partner who’s also a best friend’, a sentiment he had never experienced before.
Melinda opened up about Brian’s challenges in dealing with ‘the world’s insanity’, while paradoxically calling him ‘probably the most sane person’ she knew. Their love story and Brian’s struggles, including his battles with mental illness and his controversial relationship with his late therapist and legal guardian Dr. Eugene Landy, were captured in the 2014 biopic Love & Mercy. Paul Dano and John Cusack portrayed Brian, while Elizabeth Banks played Melinda in the film.
Melinda played a crucial role in helping Brian distance himself from Dr. Landy, who was barred from any contact with Brian in 1992 following a lawsuit from Wilson’s family, accusing Landy of having ‘undue influence’ over the musician.
Reflecting on this period, Melinda said in a 2004 Larry King interview that initially, Landy did help Brian with his physical health, but over time, the relationship turned controlling, effectively making Brian a prisoner.
In a 1998 conversation with The Chicago Tribune, Melinda spoke about Brian rebuilding his life post-Landy and his troubled upbringing. She observed that Brian’s growth in love and family marked a significant shift from his past, filled with abuse and neglect. She wondered how different his music might have been had he experienced a supportive, loving family from the beginning.
In 2015, speaking to ABC News about the film adaptation of their story, Melinda admitted the challenge of watching their life portrayed on screen. Recalling their experience watching Love & Mercy, she shared Brian’s reaction, indicating that reality had been much harsher than its cinematic depiction.Before her foray into auto sales, Melinda was a native of Whittier, California, and had a 16-year career as a model.
Get the lowdown on the biggest, hottest celebrity news, features and profiles coming out of the U.S. Sign up to our HELLO! Hollywood newsletter and get them delivered straight to your inbox.