Leonard Cohen Dies
Leonard Cohen, one of the most acclaimed songwriters of the rock era, has died at the age of 82. The cause of death has not been given.
The news was broken with a post on his Facebook page. "It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away," it read. "We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries. A memorial will take place in Los Angeles at a later date. The family requests privacy during their time of grief."
Last month, Cohen released You Want It Darker, the 14th album in a career that stretched back to 1967's Songs of Leonard Cohen. The new record continued his status as a critic's darling, having received a score of 92 on Metacritic.
Born Sept. 21, 1934 in Westmount, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal, he began playing folk guitar and began writing poetry during his teenage years. He began publishing poems while still in college and devoted much of the ‘60s to writing, both novels and poems, while living in Greece. But when they sold poorly, he moved to New York, where he got involved in the folk scene and Andy Warhol’s Factory.
His big break came in 1966 when Judy Collins recorded one of his poems that he had set to music, “Suzanne,” for her album In My Life. The exposure helped him get signed to Columbia by John Hammond, who had signed Bob Dylan several years before.
If his sales in the U.S. didn’t match his stellar reviews — none of the records he released between 1974 and 2001 charted on the Billboard 200 — he frequently got his songs into the hands of singers who understood the power of his words. In 1987, Jennifer Warnes recorded an entire album of his songs called Famous Blue Raincoat. While “Suzanne” may have been frequently covered song, “Hallelujah” is probably his most famous composition on the strength of interpretations by such artists as John Cale, Rufus Wainwright and Jeff Buckley.
In the '90s, he retreated from public life, living for a few years in a Zen monastery near Los Angeles and becoming a Buddhist monk. He resurfaced in 2001 with Ten New Songs. A few years later, he returned to the road after discovering that his longtime manager had stolen more than $5 million. Between 2008 and 2013, he toured frequently around the world, playing intimate shows in front of adoring crowds that served as a much-deserved victory lap for Cohen.
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