LOS ANGELES (CBSNewYork/CBS News) — Singer-songwriter, novelist and poet Leonard Cohen has died at the age of 82.
An announcement on Cohen’s Facebook page Thursday evening read: “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.”
Cohen’s management said in a statement Thursday that he has passed away, and a memorial will take place in Los Angeles at a later date. No further details on his death were given.
Cohen, also renowned as a poet, novelist and aspiring Zen monk, blended folk music with a darker, sexual edge that won him fans around the world and among fellow musicians like Bob Dylan and R.E.M.
He remained wildly popular into his 80s, touring as recently as earlier this year and releasing a new album just last month.
Cohen was known for such songs as “Suzanne,” “So Long Marianne,” “First We Take Manhattan,” and “Hallelujah.”
“Hallelujah” in particular became a cultural staple, has been covered many times over the years. Cohen released the song in 1975 and it was famously and successfully covered by Jeff Buckley in 1994. Among the artists who have covered it are Bon Jovi, Rufus Wainwright, Regina Spektor, Michael McDonald, Norah Jones, Justin Timberlake, k.d. lang, Brandi Carlile, Susan Boyle, Bono, Willie Nelson and Renee Fleming. It was featured in the movie “Shrek” and TV’s “The O.C.,” “The West Wing” and “American Idol.”
Outside of the entertainment world, “Hallelujah” has also been used at Jewish and Christian religious services, CBS News reported.
“Cohen’s haunting bass voice, nylon-stringed guitar patterns, Greek-chorus backing vocals shaped evocative songs that dealt with love and hate, sex and spirituality, war and peace, ecstasy and depression,” Rolling Stone writer Richard Gehr wrote Thursday night.
Cohen was born in 1934 to a middle class family in Westmount Quebec outside Montreal, according to Rolling Stone magazine.
He graduated from McGill University and moved to the Greek island of Hydra as a young man, where he published a poetry collection and two novels, Rolling Stone reported. He later worked in the Montreal garment industry, and in 1966 visited New York where he met Judy Collins, the Velvet Underground and Nico, according to Rolling Stone.
In the 1970s, Cohen had a relationship with artist Suzanne Elrod that led to two children – singer-songwriter Adam Cohen, 44, and photographer Lorca Cohen, 42, the magazine reported.
In 1995, Cohen became an ordained Buddhist monk, but he resumed his musical career with a new album in 2001, the magazine reported.
After learning his longtime manager had embezzled more than $5 million from his retirement account, Cohen went on a world tour to replenish the fund between 2008 and 2010, Rolling Stone reported.
Cohen was in his 30s when he made his first album, but was soon considered on par with the highest rank of singer-songwriters, including Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and Randy Newman, Rolling Stone reported.
Cohen was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.
Cohen’s Facebook page said a memorial would take place in Los Angeles at a later date.