Beach Boys' Brian Wilson Announces Death of 'Savior' Wife Melinda: 'She Was My Anchor'

Brian Wilson married Melinda Ledbetter in 1995, and the pair were parents to five children

Stefanie Keenan/Getty Melinda Wilson and Brian Wilson in Toronto in September 2014
Stefanie Keenan/Getty Melinda Wilson and Brian Wilson in Toronto in September 2014

Melinda Ledbetter Wilson, the wife of Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson for nearly three decades, has died. She was 77.

The musician, 81, announced Melinda’s death in an Instagram post on Tuesday, saying his “heart is broken” at the loss of his “beloved wife.”

“Our five children and I are just in tears. We are lost,” he captioned a set of throwback shots of Melinda. “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. Love and Mercy Brian.”

The post also included a message from the pair’s children, who said she died peacefully at home on Tuesday morning.

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“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,” they wrote. “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.”

Wilson married Melinda in 1995, and the couple adopted children Dakota Rose, Daria Rose, Delanie Rose, Dylan and Dash. They first met when she sold him a Cadillac in 1986, and they dated on and off for three years. In 1992, the "God Only Knows" singer and his future bride bumped into each other once more in Los Angeles and rekindled their romance.

“I’ve never had a relationship with a girl like we have,” Wilson told PEOPLE in 1998. “She’s a partner who’s also a best friend.”

Melinda, meanwhile, praised her husband’s “vulnerability,” saying he was “probably the most sane person I know,” but struggled to “deal with the world’s insanity.”

David Keeler/Getty Brian Wilson and wife Melinda on their wedding day
David Keeler/Getty Brian Wilson and wife Melinda on their wedding day

In 2014, their life together got the biopic treatment with Love & Mercy, which starred John Cusack and Elizabeth Banks as Brian and Melinda. The film gave viewers a deep dive on Wilson’s struggles with mental illness, and chronicled his complicated relationship with his therapist and legal guardian Dr. Eugene Landy.

It was Melinda who helped free Wilson from Landy's grips, and in 1991, his brother, mother and daughters sued Landy, arguing he'd exerted "undue influence" over Wilson's life. Their suit was successful, and Landy was barred from contacting his famous client in 1992.

Related: The Members of the Beach Boys: Where Are They Now?

“I didn't know how tough it would be,” Melinda told ABC News of the film in 2015. “I think I was more nervous than him when I took him to see it, and after, I said, ‘So what did you think?’ And he goes, ‘Oh, it was really a lot worse in real life.’”

Banks, who played Melinda in the film, told the outlet that she was given some sage advice by the woman she portrayed: “She said to me, ‘Music is his first love. 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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