Leonard Cohen, the influential Canadian singer-songwriter who came to prominence in the ‘60s folk-rock scene alongside Bob Dylan and Lou Reed but found fame when his work was recorded by more contemporary artists, has died at the age of 82.
"It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away,” Cohen’s record label, Sony Music Canada, said in a statement. "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 cause of death was not given.
In September, Cohen released his 14th studio album, You Want It Darker, in which he explored themes of mortality and acceptance. Though he told the New Yorker in an extensive interview last month that he was “ready to die,” Cohen also told Billboard at a record listening party, “I think I was exaggerating. I’ve always been into self-dramatisation. I intend to live forever.”
Cohen’s immortality began in Quebec, Canada, where he embarked on a literary career as a poet and author. By the early ‘60s, when Cohen moved to New York City and its vibrant arts scene, he transitioned into music and wrote songs such as “Suzanne” for Judy Collins.
“When people talk about Leonard, they fail to mention his melodies, which to me, along with his lyrics, are his greatest genius,” Bob Dylan told the New Yorker. “Even the counterpoint lines—they give a celestial character and melodic lift to every one of his songs. As far as I know, no one else comes close to this in modern music.”
Among Cohen’s best known songs are “Everybody Knows” and "Hallelujah,” which has been hauntingly interpreted by the likes of Jeff Buckley and k.d. lang and performed numerous times by contestants on shows such as American Idol and The Voice.
“Thank you, Leonard Cohen,” lang tweeted. “Swift rebirth my friend."