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Leonard Cohen

Singer / Poet / Songwriter

Born: 21 September 1934
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Best known as: The writer of the haunting song "Hallelujah"
For years a cult figure in poetry and folk music, Leonard Cohen reemerged in the 2000s as a moody and mystical troubadour. His singing style has been called "a sort of musical Method acting," and in his trademark fedora he looks something like a cross between Tony Bennett and William S. Burroughs. Cohen was born in Montreal and went to McGill University there, releasing his first book of poetry in 1956. His 1961 collection The Spice-Box of Earth was well received, and later in the 1960s he began blending his poetry with experimental forms of folk and country music. His first album was Songs of Leonard Cohen in 1967. He explored his eternal themes of romantic strife, spirituality, and weary, hard-earned wisdom in Songs From a Room (1969, with his classic single "Bird on a Wire") and Songs of Love and Hate (1971). He became friends with Andy Warhol and his songs influenced (and were covered by) Lou Reed, Judi Collins, and other more mainstream singers. Cohen kept writing but toured and recorded with fading frequency the 1980s, and then spent five years (1994-99) in seclusion at the Mount Baldy Zen Monastery near Los Angeles. His lugubrious 1984 single "Hallelujah" became a hit again in 2008 after it was featured on the TV talent shows The X Factor and American Idol, and the next year he embarked on a triumphant world tour -- his first live performances since 1994. Cohen's other albums include Death of a Ladies' Man (1977), Various Positions (1984, including the single "Hallelujah"), Ten New Songs (2001) and Blue Alert (2006, with the singer Anjani). He was made a Companion to the Order of Canada in 2003, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.
Extra credit: Cohen has two children by the artist Suzanne Elrod: son Adam (b. 1972) and daughter Lorca (b. 1974)... Cohen filed suit in 2005 against his former manager, Kelley Lynch, saying she had taken or mismanaged more than $5 million. He was awarded $9.5 million in damages by a court the next year.

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