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Leonard Cohen, legendary musician, poet, and author, dies aged 82

Goran Blazeski

Musician, poet, and author Leonard Cohen has died at age 82. A statement on his Facebook page announced: “It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter, and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away.

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.”

On October 28, 2016, Cohen released his final album, You Want It Darker, a bleak masterpiece that focused thematically on mortality.

Leonard Cohen at King's Garden, Odense, Denmark, 17 August 2013. Photo Credit

Leonard Cohen at King’s Garden, Odense, Denmark, 17 August 2013. Photo Credit

He influenced many musicians and won many honors, including induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Order of Canada.  During his musical career that spanned six decades, he was compared with such other songwriters of his era as Bob Dylan and Paul Simon.

Cohen’s son Adam told Rolling Stone: “My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records.”

“He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humor.”

His best-known song, “Hallelujah” has been covered hundreds of times since he released it in 1984.

Cohen in 1988. Photo Credit

Cohen in 1988. Photo Credit

He was born on September 21, 1934, in Westmount, Quebec. He was the grandson of Jewish immigrants from Poland, and his maternal grandfather was a rabbi and Talmudic scholar. His father, who was a wealthy clothier, died when Cohen was only nine years-old.

In his high school years, he studied music and poetry and he developed an admiration for the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca and a fondness for American country music.

Leonard Cohen at Edinburgh Castle, July 2008. Photo Credit

Leonard Cohen at Edinburgh Castle, July 2008. Photo Credit

He published a widely praised volume of early verse, Let Us Compare Mythologies, in 1956, The Spice-Box of Earth followed in 1961, and the provocatively titled Flowers for Hitler in 1964 won him the Quebec literary award.

He moved to New York City, where he studied literature at Columbia University for a year before returning to Montreal. After rambling across Europe, he ended up living in a house on the Greek island of Hydra, where he wrote The Favorite Game and Beautiful Losers.

Leonard Cohen at Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, July 2008. Photo Credit

Leonard Cohen at Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, July 2008. Photo Credit

He was frustrated by poor book sales and he turned to songwriting. He went to New York in 1966 where he met folk singer Judy Collins who helped Cohen gain fame by recording some of his early compositions, including the early hit Suzanne, on her album In My Life.

Although he was reserved and afraid to sing in public he released his first album Songs of Leonard Cohen in 1967, and his second, Songs From a Room, was released early in 1969.

It was 1967 when Judy Collins asked him to play at Town Hall, in New York, at an anti-Vietnam War benefit. He made his stage debut by singing Suzanne, and since then, Cohen has played thousands of concerts all over the world.

Leonard Cohen in McLaren Vale, South Australia, January 2009. Photo Credit

Leonard Cohen in McLaren Vale, South Australia, January 2009. Photo Credit

It was 1971 when Cohen released Songs of Love and Hate, he released three more albums during the 1970s but, amid bouts of depression, only two in the 1980s and one in the 1990s.In 1994 he abandoned his music career altogether and moved to the Mount Baldy monastery, near Los Angeles, where he was ordained a Buddhist monk.

He took the name Jikan, which means “silence.” In 2001, he released Ten New Songs and in 2004 Dear Heather.

2008 concert tour. Photo Credit

2008 concert tour. Photo Credit

In 2005, Leonard Cohen sued his former manager, Kelley Lynch, accusing her of defrauding him of $5 million from his retirement account. He undertook an epic world tour during which he would perform 387 shows from 2008 to 2013 in order to replenish the fund.

In 2006, he published a new collection of poems, Book of Longing, and he released Old Ideas in 2012, and Popular Problems in 2014, as well as a three-CD, one-DVD set called Live in Dublin.

The singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen in Venice. Photo Credit

The singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen in Venice. Photo Credit

Leonard Cohen never married. His survivors include two children, Adam and Lorca, from his relationship with Suzanne Elrod.

“Unmatched in his creativity, insight, and crippling candor, Leonard Cohen was a true visionary whose voice will be sorely missed,” his manager Robert Kory said in a statement. “I was blessed to call him a friend, and for me to serve that bold artistic spirit firsthand was a privilege and great gift. He leaves behind a legacy of work that will bring insight, inspiration, and healing for generations to come.”