Legendary Canadian singer Leonard Cohen has died at the age of 82, a statement on his official Facebook page says.
“It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away,” the announcement said.
“We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries.”
Hallelujah one of his hit tracks has been performed by almost 200 artistes in various languages all over the world.
Statistics from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA); the Canadian Recording Industry Association; the Australian Recording Industry Association; and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry show more than five million copies of the song sold prior to late 2008 in compact-disc format. It has been the subject of a BBC Radio documentary and been featured in the soundtracks of numerous films and television programs.
The song is the subject of the book The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley & the Unlikely Ascent of ‘Hallelujah’ (2012) by Alan Light.
In a New York Times review Janet Maslin praised the book and the song, noting that “Cohen spent years struggling with his song ‘Hallelujah’; he wrote perhaps as many as 80 verses before paring the song down and recording it on the 1984 album Various Positions.
His label, CBS Records, refused to release Various Positions, not realizing that ‘Hallelujah’ would become one of the most haunting, mutable, and oft-performed songs in American musical history.”
There were no details about the cause his death. A memorial will take place in Los Angeles at a later date, the announcement said.
The Montreal-born singer’s hits included Suzanne and I’m Your Man and he released his 14th album, You Want It Darker, just last month.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.
“This is a very unlikely occasion for me. It is not a distinction that I coveted or even dared dream about,” he said.
Born into a Jewish family, he later became a student of Zen Buddhism.
For five years, from 1994 to 1999, he took a break from the music industry and lived at Mount Baldy Zen Center, east of Los Angeles.
“My life was filled with great disorder, with chaos, and I achieved a little discipline there,” he said.
“So I decided to return to music.”
Leonard Cohen was called “the high priest of pathos” and the “godfather of gloom”
But the influence and appeal of this poet, novelist, songwriter and legendary ladies’ man has endured throughout his career.
Often prone to depression throughout his life, his often witty, charming and self-deprecating manner was reflected in his lyrics.
Record label Sony Music said it was proud to have “celebrated Cohen’s artistry” over his six-decade career.
“Leonard Cohen was an unparalleled artist whose stunning body of original work has been embraced by generations of fans and artists alike,” it said in a statement.
“The Sony Music Canada family joins the world in mourning Leonard Cohen’s passing.”
Cohen’s songs included Bird On The Wire, Hallelujah and So Long Marianne, written about his lover and muse Marianne Ihlen, whom he met in Greece in the 1960s.
She also inspired the song Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye.
In July this year, when he heard that Ihlen was near to death, he wrote to her: “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.”
Singers, writers and politicians paid tribute to Cohen on social media.
“Hallelujah” was first released on Cohen’s studio album Various Positions in 1984. The song had limited initial success but found greater popularity through a 1991 cover by John Cale, which formed the basis for a later cover by Jeff Buckley.