Leonard Cohen has died at 82, leaving behind his towers of song and a hugely influential legacy built over five decades of an illustrious career that spanned music and literature.
The Canadian singer-songwriter died Nov. 10 at his home in Los Angeles. The news was confirmed with an announcement on his official 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.”
Referring to Cohen’s latest studio album — his fourteenth — “You Want It Darker,” his son Adam told Rolling Stone that Cohen “passed away peacefully… 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.”
Reactions from the entertain world, including many from his contemporaries, as well as other, poured in.
Starting with his first album, “Songs of Leonard Cohen,” in 1967, Cohen retained a large audience through the decades even as popularity of most other poet-musicians from the era declined. In the words of journalist Bruce Eder: “One of the most fascinating and enigmatic — if not the most successful — singer/songwriters of the late ‘60s… Second only to Bob Dylan (and perhaps Paul Simon), he commands the attention of critics and younger musicians more firmly than any other musical figure from the ‘60s who is still working in the 21st century, which is all the more remarkable an achievement for someone who didn't even aspire to a musical career until he was in his thirties.”
Born in Westmount, Quebec, in 1934, Cohen learned to play the guitar as a teenager and the early influence of a flamenco guitar teacher made him give up steel strings for nylon, the material he used for the bulk of his music career. The haunting bass voice may have been partly influenced by the association with Nico, who Cohen met while hanging out with Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground when he visited New York City in 1966.
Cohen’s writing career predates his music. He published his first collection of poetry in 1956 and his first novel in 1963, when he was living in Greece.