Leonard Cohen, Hugely Influential Songwriter and Poet, Dies at 82

Leonard Cohen's latest album, You Want It Darker, was released Oct. 21. (NPR)

Leonard Cohen, the hugely influential Canadian songwriter, singer and author, has died.

"It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away," reads a statement on Cohen's Facebook page. "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."

No cause of death was given.

Cohen's decades-long career spawned songs such as "So Long, Marianne," "Suzanne," "Bird on the Wire," and "Hallelujah," the latter a massive hit for Jeff Buckley. Cohen's most recent album You Want It Darker was released last month.

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Cohen emerged as a poetic voice among the burgeoning songwriter scene in the 1960s, after publishing Flowers for Hitler, a book of poetry, and the novels The Favourite Game and Beautiful Losers.

That same poetry found its way into his songs, sung in a plaintive vocal style, often with flamenco-styled guitar and backed by a chorus. Upon visiting New York in the mid-1960s, Cohen fell in with a crowd that included the Velvet Underground and Judy Collins, who supported his songwriting and recording. Albums such as Songs From Leonard Cohen and Songs From a Room followed.

Through the 1970s and 1980s, Cohen's albums continued to contribute to the great singer-songwriter songbook. In 1984, Cohen recorded a lyrical ode called "Hallelujah"; his label at the time was unsupportive, however, and it wasn't until Jeff Buckley's 1994 version that the song became ubiquitous: at funerals, weddings, in movies and more.

The Canadian-born Cohen turned to Zen in the mid-'90s and disappeared from the road, touring only when it was discovered that his longtime manager had embezzled $5 million from his retirement account. Needing the ticket revenue, Cohen set out on a series of well-received tours; the shows were a remarkable success. This year, reviews for Cohen's most recent album You Want It Darker were largely positive.

In an in-depth profile for the New Yorker that ran last month, Cohen told the magazine: “I am ready to die. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable. That’s about it for me.”

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