“We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries.”
The singer, songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen has died. He was 82 years old.
Born in Montreal, Canada, in 1934, Cohen studied literature at the city’s McGill University and published his first poems in 1954. He published several volumes of poetry over the next decade before moving to the United States to try his hand as a folk singer.
He released his first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, in 1967, and was signed to Columbia by John H. Hammond, a legendary A&R who also worked with Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. His string of ’60s and ’70s albums yielded songs including ‘So Long, Marianne’, ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ and his best known work, ‘Hallelujah’, which has been covered by a multitude of artists, most famously the late Jeff Buckley.
In 1994, Cohen retreated to a Buddhist monastery near Los Angeles, remaining in seclusion for five years and becoming ordained as a Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk.
He came out of retirement in his late seventies after his former manager, Kelley Lynch, was found guilty of stealing millions of dollars from him. Forced back on the road by his financial situation, his comeback was the beginning of a five-year world tour and three acclaimed albums, the last of which, You Want I Darker, came out last month.
In a recent profile in The New Yorker, Cohen talking about his impending retirement, telling interview David Remnick that he was “ready to die.”
“Maybe I’ll get a second wind, I don’t know. But I don’t dare attach myself to a spiritual strategy … I am ready to die. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable. That’s about it for me,” he said.
Update: Cohen died on Monday, November 7, and has already been buried.
He “was buried in a quiet and private ceremony in Montreal,” wrote Marie Mazur, a friend of Cohen’s, in a post to his online forum. “Leonard is home again.”
Read the statement from his family below.