Melinda Wilson, whose love story with husband Brian Wilson was portrayed in the biopic “Love and Mercy,” and who is widely credited with helping bring the Beach Boys‘ founder back from psychological ruin, died Tuesday morning at age 77. No cause of death was immediately given.
The death was announced on Brian Wilson’s Instagram page, where the 81-year-old singer-songwriter wrote, “My heart is broken. 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. 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.” He closed the statement with his trademark sign-off: “Love and Mercy, Brian.”
The couple married in 1995. They had met nine years earlier, when Melinda Ledbetter sold Wilson a Cadillac — an encounter captured, along with much more of their love story, in “Love and Mercy,” in which Elizabeth Banks played Melinda, opposite John Cusack playing the Beach Boys star in middle age. The film dramatized how she helped him deal with mental illness and provided a path to health away from Eugene Landy, the infamous therapist seen as exerting undue control in Wilson’s life.
The pair’s children joined in on Tuesday with an additional statement on Wilson’s social media, writing: “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. She was a force of nature and one of the strongest women you could come by. She was not only a model, our father’s 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. We love you mom. Give Grandma Rose and Pa our love.”
Other music stars sent their support, including Graham Nash, who wrote in the social post’s comments, “I’m deeply sorry for your loss, Brian, and for the terrible hurt you are all feeling. My heart, love, and prayers are with you and your family.” Others adding their love on the page included Alec Baldwin — who simply wrote “So sorry” — Stephen Bishop and Lyle Lovett.
More to come…