The music world is mourning the loss of a giant, as Leonard Cohen passed away Nov. 10 at the age of 82. He gave us five decades worth of brilliant albums, songwriting, poetry and novels, so here are five things to know about Leonard.
1. Leonard turned to music after his books of poetry and novels didn’t sell well.
After graduating from college, he moved to a Greek Island in the mid-60’s where he bought a small house and composed the poetry collection “Flowers for Hitler” as well as the novels “The Favourite Game” and “Beautiful Losers.” With little success, he headed to New York City in 1966 as the city’s music and arts scene was starting to explode.
2. Leonard’s first album Songs of Leonard Cohen was greeted warmly after it’s 1967 release.
His brilliant songwriting skills made top folk artists of the day take notice, with the likes of James Taylor and Judy Collins covering songs off of it. While it wasn’t a huge commercial success, the critics and the music world took note of his amazing talent and it earned him a devoted following.
3.. He wrote the gorgeous song “Hallelujah” later made famous by Jeff Buckley.
Perhaps his most famous work, the song appeared on his 1984 album Various Positions. Jeff released his iconic rendition in 1994 that brought the song the fame it truly deserved. It has since been recorded by over 200 other artists in numerous languages.
4. Leonard was an ordained Buddhist monk.
He put his musical career on hold in 1995 and entered the Mt. Baldy Zen Center outside of Los Angeles, becoming an ordained Buddhist monk a year later. He took a vow of silence and studied under a Zen master for the next five years. While he still observed Jewish sabbaths and the religion, he found Buddhism lifted him out of some of his darker times.
5. Leonard toured well into old age because his accountant looted his retirement fund.
In 2005, his daughter Lorca suspected his longtime money manager had been stealing from him and sure enough, he had embezzled $5 million from the artist. To make the money back, he toured endlessly from 2008 through 2013, performing 387 shows worldwide during that time. He even recorded new albums including 2012’s Old Ideas and Popular Problems, which came out a day after his 80th birthday in 2014.
HollywoodLifers, share your memories of what his music meant to you in our comments.