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Brian Wilson pays tribute after death of wife Melinda: “She was my anchor”

Brian Wilson’s wife of 28 years, Melinda Ledbetter, has died on Tuesday morning (January 30). She was 77 years old.

Later that day, Wilson took to Instagram to announce the tragic news. “My heart is broken,” he wrote in a caption attached to a picture of Ledbetter, and an old picture of the pair together. “Melinda, my beloved wife of 28 years, passed away this morning. Our five children and I are just in tears. We are lost.”

Wilson went on to pay tribute to his late partner, esteeming her as a “savior” and “anchor”. “Melinda was more than my wife,” he continued. “She was my savior. She gave me the emotional security I needed to have a career. She encouraged me to make the music that was closest to my heart. She was my anchor. She was everything for us. Please say a prayer for her.”

Attached to the caption was a joint statement from Wilson’s children – namely, Dakota Rose, Daria Rose, Delanie Rose, Dylan and Dash – who noted that Ledbetter “passed away peacefully [on Tuesday] morning at home”, and regarded her as a “force of nature”. “She was a force of nature and one of the strongest women you could come by,” they wrote. “She was not only a model, our fathers savior, and a mother, she was a woman empowered by her spirit with a mission to better everyone she touched.”

“We will miss her but cherish everything she has taught us. How to take care of the person next to you with out expecting anything in return, how to find beauty in the darkest of places, and how to live life as your truest self with honesty and pride.”

Wilson and Ledbetter met in 1986, when he bought a car from from her at the Cadillac dealership where she worked. The pair proceeded to date for two years before Wilson was ordered to break up with her by his psychiatrist Eugene Landy, who was known for his controversial techniques and eventual involvement in Wilson’s own career.

In 1992, Ledbetter and Wilson reconnected after she almost ran over him with her car. They married three years later, on February 6, 1995. In 1999, Ledbetter involved herself in Wilson’s career by serving as his manager, convincing him to complete his then-unfinished album ‘Smile’, and helping him find proper psychological help.

In 2014, Bill Pohlad’s biographical film on Wilson’s life, Love & Mercy, was oriented around Wilson’s and Ledbetter’s relationship, as depicted by Paul Dano and Elizabeth Banks respectively, with The Holdovers’ Paul Giamatti playing Eugene Landy. In an interview with ABC Nightline in 2015, Banks recalled a conversation she had with Ledbetter before shooting the film, who understood music to ultimately be Wilson’s “first love”.

“She said to me, ‘Music is his first love’,” said Banks of her conversation with Ledbetter. “Nothing can replace it. It’s his being, it’s his essence, it’s his everything, So I’m settling for second, but it’s a pretty good– it’s a pretty good second’.”

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