Photo credit: Aaron Harris
The entertainment business has lost a number of shining stars in the year of 2016. Prince, David Bowie, Anton Yelchin, Gene Wilder, Muhammad Ali, and Alan Rickman. Sadly, we have lost yet another beloved star before this year has ended.
Reported by CNN, Leonard Cohen has has passed away in Los Angeles. Cohen’s record label, Sony Music Canada, confirmed the death on the Facebook page of the legendary singer.
A face you may not recognize, but a voice you definitely have heard. Leonard Norman Cohen was born on September 21st 1934 in Westmount Quebec. As a teenager, Cohen formed a folk group he called the Buckskin Boys. But like many young kids, his attention was didn’t stay on one goal for long. It was his early exposure to Spanish writer Federico Garcia Lorca that turned Cohen to poetry. Later it was a flamenco guitar teacher that got Cohen to switch out his steel strings for nylon.
After graduating from McGill University, Cohen moved to the Greek island of Hydra, and purchased a home for $1,500 through a trust fund that was established for him by his father, who passed away when Leonard was only nine. Leonard kept his self busy while on Hydra by publishing a poetry collection which included Flowers for Hitler (1964) as well as The Favourite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966).
After being frustrated by poor book sales and tired working in Montreal’s garment industry, a frustrated Cohen decided to visit New York in 1966 to learn more about the folk-rock scene. It was here where he met folk singer Judy Collins, who gave Cohen his big break in folk music by placing two of his songs, on e of which was the early hit “Suzanne”, on her album In My Life. His social setting in New York included Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground, and German singer Nico, who’s vocal style may have inspired Cohen on his 1967 album Songs of Leonard Cohen.
Cohen quickly became the songwriter choice for other singers/songwriters for artists like Collins, James Taylor, Willie Nelson and a number of others.
In the seventies, Cohen set out on a number of different intense and long tours that he would later go back to towards the end of his career. “One of the reasons I’m on tour is to meet people,” he said to Rolling Stone in 1971. “I consider it a reconnaissance. You know, I consider myself like in a military operation. I don’t feel like a citizen.”
Cohen’s relationship with Suzanne Elrod during the majority of the seventies resulted in two children, the photographer Lorca Cohen and Adam Cohen, leads the group Low Millions.
Perhaps his most known composition “Hallelujah” was lifted into another level of recognition through Jeff Buckley’s 1994 interpretation. Also, used in the wildly successful animated film Shrek (2001), which grossed 484.4 million dollars, “Hallelujah” was brought to the ears of an entire new generation.
Before his death, Cohen was working on a new album titled “You Want it Darker” which was released in the fall of 2016. Unfortunately this would be the last album fans would get of the singer who just recently celebrated his 82nd birthday.
“Hallelujah” was covered by Welsh singer John Cale in the film Shrek (2001).