November 11, 2016


Leonard Cohen Dead at 82

Michael Putland/Getty Images
Michael Putland/Getty Images

The utterly singular singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen has died at age 82, we've just learned. He was born in Quebec, Canada on Sept. 21, 1934. The artist's Facebook announced his death:

"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."

Billboard learned that Cohen died on Monday in Los Angeles and was laid to rest on Thursday. No cause of death has been revealed. Son (and producer) Adam Cohen said his father “was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humor."

Cohen debuted musically at age 33 in 1967 with Songs of Leonard Cohen, featuring "Suzanne." He had published two novels and four poetry collections by then, and would go on to publish more than a half-dozen other volumes. He became the parent of a daughter, Lorca, and a son, Adam, in the early 1970s with artist Suzanne Elrod. (They separated not long after.)

The New York Times remembers Cohen's music exploring, "in language that was spare and often oblique, themes of religion and love, depression and suicide, politics and war." Rolling Stone dubs him "the dark eminence among a small pantheon of extremely influential singer-songwriters to emerge in the '60s and early '70s."

On Oct. 21, 2016, Cohen released his 14th album, You Want It Darker. His son said his father died “with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records.” Four days before the release, the "Hallelujah" singer spoke to The New Yorker editor David Remnick, saying, after finishing a recitation of an in-progress song:

“I don’t think I’ll be able to finish those songs. Maybe, who knows? And maybe I’ll get a second wind, I don’t know. But I don’t dare attach myself to a spiritual strategy. I don’t dare do that. I’ve got some work to do. Take care of business. I am ready to die. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable. That’s about it for me.”

Cohen went on to speak about the bat kol, a type of divine voice from within:

“You hear this other deep reality singing to you all the time, and much of the time you can’t decipher it. Even when I was healthy, I was sensitive to the process. At this stage of the game, I hear it saying, ‘Leonard, just get on with the things you have to do.’ It’s very compassionate at this stage. More than at any time of my life, I no longer have that voice that says, ‘You’re fucking up.’ That’s a tremendous blessing, really.”

Read the complete New Yorker profile here.

He had become prolific in the studio since 2012 after taking an eight-year break, releasing Old Ideas that year and Popular Problems in 2014.