Songwriter, poet, novelist and global icon over 5 decades
Over 2,000 covers of Cohen’s songs have been recorded
Born in 1934, Cohen was a Canadian singer, songwriter, poet and novelist, and his work explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships. Cohen was inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (2006) as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2008).
Cohen always had an interest in music, but it wasn't until 1966 that his focus turned to songwriting after gaining international recognition for his poetry. Before he released a single song, Cohen sold the highly successful "Suzanne" to Judy Collins which later was included on his debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen in 1967 along with "Sisters Of Mercy," and "So Long, Marianne."
His next album was Songs from a Room (1969) featuring the often-recorded “Bird on the Wire" and Songs of Love and Hate (1971). His 1977 record Death of a Ladies’ Man was co-written and produced by 1997 SHOF Inductee Phil Spector, which was a move away from Cohen’s previous minimalist sound.
In 1979 Cohen returned with the more traditional Recent Songs, which blended his acoustic style with jazz and Oriental and Mediterranean influences. “Hallelujah” was first released on Cohen’s studio album Various Positions in 1984. I’m Your Man in 1988 marked Cohen’s turn to synthesized productions and remains his most popular album.
In 1992 Cohen released its follow-up, The Future, which had dark lyrics and references to political and social unrest. Cohen returned to music in 2001 with the release of Ten New Songs, which was a major hit in Canada and Europe. In 2006 Cohen produced and co-wrote Blue Alert, a collaboration with jazz chanteuse Anjani Thomas.
Leonard Cohen received the Grammy 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award in honor of his legendary career of artistic accomplishments in songwriting and performing.
Over 2,000 covers of Cohen's songs have been recorded by artists such as R.E.M., Bob Dylan, Elton John, Judy Collins, Willie Nelson and most recently, Justin Timberlake's rendition of "Hallelujah" that appeared on Cohen's 1984 Various Positions album.
After the success of his 2008–13 world tours, Cohen released the highest charting album in his entire career, Old Ideas, to positive reviews. On 22 September 2014, one day after his 80th birthday, Cohen released his 13th studio album, Popular Problems, again to positive reviews. Cohen’s fourteenth and final album, You Want It Darker, was released on 21 October 2016, a few weeks before he died.