The groundbreaking singer, songwriter, and author Leonard Cohen is dead at 82. The news was announced in a post on Cohen's official Facebook page Thursday evening via his label, Sony Music Canada.
"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," the message said. "A memorial will take place in Los Angeles at a later date. The family requests privacy during their time of grief." No cause of death was provided, though Cohen had been suffering from a number of health problems and spoke about preparing for his death in an extensive profile ahead of his final album, You Want It Darker, released in October. Listen to audio from the interview here.
"My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records," Cohen's son Adam wrote in a statement. "He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humor."
"Unmatched in his creativity, insight and crippling candor, Leonard Cohen was a true visionary whose voice will be sorely missed," his manager Robert Kory said in a separate statement. "I was blessed to call him a friend, and for me to serve that bold artistic spirit firsthand, was a privilege and great gift. He leaves behind a legacy of work that will bring insight, inspiration and healing for generations to come."
"For many of us Leonard Cohen was the greatest songwriter of them all," Nick Cave wrote in a Facebook post. "Utterly unique and impossible to imitate no matter how hard we tried. He will be deeply missed by so many."
Born in Westmount, Quebec on September 21, 1934, Cohen emerged in the 1960s and early 1970s alongside fellow poet-musicians like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, an artist whose unflinching passion, melancholy, and wit would mark a massively influential body of work that spanned five decades.
Cohen began his career as a writer, publishing several books of poetry and two novels, The Favourite Game and Beautiful Losers; he once wrote to his publisher that he sought to reach "inner-directed adolescents, lovers in all degrees of anguish, disappointed Platonists, pornography-peepers, hair-handed monks and Popists."
Frustrated by his lack of financial success as a writer, Cohen moved to New York in 1966 at age 31 to explore the city's thriving folk rock scene, though he remained a poet and novelist throughout his life. Cohen released his debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, in 1967, featuring his breakout song, "Suzanne."
Though he never enjoyed the same mainstream popularity as some of his contemporaries, the sensual melancholy and reverent grace of Cohen tracks like "Suzanne," "Bird on the Wire," "Sisters of Mercy," and the extensively interpreted "Hallelujah" embedded his work in rock's cultural narrative, establishing Cohen as a dark horse troubadour. His songwriting was defined as much by his rough-hewn voice and evocative melodies as by the meticulous language with which he confronted the polarities and contradictions of the human condition.
"I am ready to die," Cohen said. "I hope it's not too uncomfortable."
Earlier this year, Cohen made headlines with a personal note sent to his muse and long-time friend Marianne Ihlen two days before she died. "Well Marianne, it's come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine." In a subsequent interview, Cohen walked it back, explaining, "I've always been into self-dramatization. I intend to live forever… I intend to stick around until 120."
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