The news was announced on his official Facebook page, but no details about the cause of death were given. “It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away,” the statement said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau led tributes to the singer, who was known for hits including Hallelujah and Dance Me to the End of Love. “It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of the legendary Leonard Cohen,” Mr Trudeau said in a statement. “He will be fondly remembered for his gruff vocals, his self-deprecating humour and the haunting lyrics that made his songs the perennial favourite of so many generations.”
Fans have gathered outside Cohen’s Montreal home to light candles and lay flowers. Tributes are also being paid on the Greek island of Hydra, where Cohen had a house in the 1960s.
Cohen’s son Adam told Rolling Stone: “My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records. “He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humour.”
A memorial for Cohen will take place in Los Angeles at a later date, the Facebook announcement added.
The Montreal-born singer’s hits included Suzanne, Bird on the Wire and I’m Your Man. He released his 14th album, You Want It Darker, just last month.
John Lissauer, the producer who worked with Cohen on Hallelujah as well as a series of albums in the 1970s and 1980s, described the singer as “almost mythical”. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “He was just an iconic figure, because his duration was so great and he was so consistent in his devotion to the craft, and his devotion to recording and performing.”
You Want It Darker received great critical acclaim, with Rolling Stone calling it a “late career triumph”. The Telegraph described it as a “bleak masterpiece”, awarding it five stars. The Guardian also gave it full marks, praising the album as “wise and honest”, while Pitchfork said the album “feels like a pristine, piously crafted last testament, the informed conclusion of a lifetime of inquiry”.
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 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, Cohen wrote a letter to Ihlen after learning that she was terminally ill and close to death. He said: “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 son. “Goodbye old friend, see you down the road.”
Death ‘an analgesic’
The singer spoke last month about the prospect of death in what is thought to be one of his final interviews. “I am ready to die,” he told The New Yorker. “I hope it’s not too uncomfortable. That’s about it for me.”
Speaking about making arrangements for his death, he added: “At a certain point, if you still have your marbles and are not faced with serious financial challenges, you have a chance to put your house in order. “It’s a cliche, but it’s underestimated as an analgesic on all levels.”
Carole King, Peter Gabriel, Bette Midler and Margaret Atwood are among others to have paid tribute.
BBC News 11th November 2016