Brian Wilson, the iconic frontman of the Beach Boys, is mourning the loss of his beloved wife, Melinda Ledbetter Wilson. She passed away at the age of 77 on Tuesday morning. Wilson took to Instagram to confirm the news, sharing that she had peacefully died at her home. The couple married in 1995.
“My heart is broken,” Wilson wrote alongside a portrait of his wife and a picture of the two together. “Melinda, my beloved wife of 28 years, passed away this morning. Our five children and I are just in tears. We are lost.”
Brian Wilson expressed that Melinda was not only his spouse but also his ultimate source of salvation. “[Melinda] gave me the emotional security I needed to have a career. [My wife] encouraged me to make the music that was closest to my heart,” he wrote. “She was my anchor. She was everything for us. Please say a prayer for her.”
“She was a force of nature and one of the strongest women you could come by,” their children wrote below Brian Wilson’s Instagram message. “We will miss her but cherish everything she has taught us.”
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Born in Pueblo, Colorado, and raised in Whittier, California, Ledbetter pursued a career in modeling and car sales before crossing paths with Wilson in 1986.
At the time, Wilson, who had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and mild bipolar disorder, was under the close supervision of psychologist Eugene Landy.
However, in 1989, Ledbetter took the courageous step of reporting Landy to the attorney general. Although the case was ultimately dismissed, it marked a turning point in their relationship, prompting them to part ways upon Landy’s insistence.
However, after two years, Wilson’s family initiated a conservatorship lawsuit, resulting in his removal from the care of the psychologist. Subsequently, Ledbetter and Wilson rekindled their relationship and eventually tied the knot in 1995.
Together, they embarked on the journey of parenthood by adopting five children. Furthermore, Ledbetter took on the role of Wilson’s manager starting in 1999.
In 2014, their life story was portrayed in the biopic Love & Mercy, featuring John Cusack and Elizabeth Banks as Brian and Melinda. The film delved into Wilson’s mental health challenges and his complex dynamic with therapist and legal guardian Dr. Eugene Landy.