Legendary singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen dies at 82

Leonard Cohen. Photo courtesy: musicbizz.com

Leonard Cohen, the noted singer-songwriter, has died at 82, it was announced Thursday on his Facebook page.

“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,” the statement read.

No date or cause of death was immediately given.

Cohen, whose work has influenced writers and musicians since the 1960s, was born Sept. 21, 1934, near Montreal, Canada. As a teenager, he formed a country-folk group called The Buckskin Boys, but his love of and fascination with poetry drew him in a more literary direction.

By the time he was in his 30s, Cohen was publishing his poetry collections and two novels, the second of which, “Beautiful Losers,” stirred a great deal of controversy in Canada for its graphic sexuality.

His career in music spanned five decades and earned him a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008 and a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement in 2010, among numerous other awards.

One of his best-known compositions, “Hallelujah,” released in 1984, was barely noticed among all the pop-rock tunes of the day. Since the 1990s, when it was picked up and covered by other artists who gave the words and melody their own interpretations, “Hallelujah” has not only been used in movies and on TV, but has become a virtual mainstay of funerals and weddings.

Cohen’s intellectual, Jewish background was evident in the lyrics he wove into almost mystical tales about life, love, hate, disillusionment and sex. Mortality, morality and God are themes he frequently explored.

Earlier in November, Rolling Stone did a story on Cohen and the health problems he experienced since his last “Grand Tour” in 2013. The publication quoted Cohen’s son, Adam, who said, “Among many other things, he had multiple fractures of the spine. He has a lot of hard miles on him.”

Yet, Cohen managed to produce one last album, “You Want It Darker,” which was released Oct. 21.

The title song of this, Cohen’s 14th album, includes the word “Hineni,” which means “Here I am” — the word Abraham spoke to show his willingness when called upon by God, according to the Old Testament. It’s a dark song, with the lyrics including lines from the Kaddish, which praises God and is the Jewish prayer for the dead.

Cohen had two children from his relationship with Los Angeles artist Suzanne Elrod, a son, Adam, born in 1972, and a daughter, Lorca, born in 1974.


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