kids encyclopedia robot

Leonard Cohen facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen 2187-edited.jpg
Cohen in 2008
Background information
Birth name Leonard Norman Cohen
Born (1934-09-21)21 September 1934
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died 7 November 2016 (aged 82)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres Folk, folk rock, rock, world
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, musician, poet, novelist
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano
Years active 1956 - 2016
Labels Columbia

Leonard Norman Cohen (September 21, 1934 – November 7, 2016) was a Canadian singer, songwriter, musician, poet, novelist, and painter. His work was mostly about religion, politics, and personal relationships most notably seen in his best known work "Hallelujah".

Cohen was added into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honor. In 2011, Cohen received one of the Prince of Asturias Awards for literature and the ninth Glenn Gould Prize.

Early life

Cohen was born on September 21, 1934 in Westmount, Quebec into a middle-class Canadian Jewish family. His mother was Marsha (Masha) Klonitsky and his father was Nathan Cohen. Cohen's father died when he was nine years old.

During his high school years in Westmount, Cohen learned and played the guitar many times and wrote poems. He studied at McGill University.


Cohen started a career as a poet and novelist during the 1950s and early 1960s. Cohen did not start his music career until 1967, at the age of 33. His first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967), was followed by three more albums of folk music: Songs from a Room (1969), Songs of Love and Hate (1971) and New Skin for the Old Ceremony (1974).

His 1977 record Death of a Ladies' Man was co-written and produced by Phil Spector. 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. Cohen wrote around 80 draft verses for "Hallelujah", with one writing session at the Royalton Hotel in New York where he was reduced to sitting on the floor in his underwear, banging his head on the floor. This became Cohen's best known work. I'm Your Man in 1988 marked Cohen's most popular album with the song "Everybody Knows". 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. His eleventh album, Dear Heather, followed in 2004. After a successful string of tours between 2008 and 2010, Cohen released three albums in the final four years of his life: Old Ideas (2012), Popular Problems (2014) and You Want It Darker (2016), the last of which was released three weeks before his death.

Personal life

Though never married, Cohen had two children: Adam and Lorca with his girlfriend Suzanne Elrod. He was also romantically linked with Marianne Ihlen, Janis Joplin and Rebecca De Mornay.


Cohen died in 7 November 2016 of leukemia and from complications of a fall in his sleep at his home in Los Angeles, aged 82.

His funeral was held on November 10, 2016 in Montreal, at a cemetery on Mount Royal, his congregation Shaar Hashomayim confirmed. As was his wish, Cohen was laid to rest with a Jewish rite, in a simple pine casket, in a family plot.

Titles and honors

  • In 1968, Cohen refused a Governor General's Award (in category for English language poetry or drama) for Selected Poems 1956–1968.
  • In 1991, Cohen was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
  • In 1993, Cohen won the Juno Award for Male Vocalist of the Year.
  • In 1994, Cohen won another Juno Award this time for Songwriter of the Year.
  • In 1996, he was ordained a Rinzai Buddhist monk.
  • In 2001, Cohen was awarded a SNEP Award for more than 100,000 copies sold of Ten New Songs in France.
  • In 2003, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian honour.
  • In 2004, Beautiful Losers was chosen for inclusion in Canada Reads 2005. It was selected and originally to be championed by singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright; however, tour commitments meant that Wainwright had to be replaced by singer Molly Johnson.
  • In 2006, Cohen was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
  • In 2007, Cohen received a Grammy for Album of the Year as a featured artist on Herbie Hancock's River: The Joni Letters.
  • In 2008, Cohen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • In June 2008 he was made a Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec

Images for kids

kids search engine
Leonard Cohen Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.