Rock music’s man of letters, Leonard Cohen, whose songs fused religious imagery with themes of redemption and sexual desire, is dead at the age of 82.
“It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away,” a statement on the Facebook page said. “We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries.”
Cohen was born September 21, 1934, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He explored his artistic leanings from an early age, writing poetry and fiction as a teenager.
Here are 10 facts that you may not know about the music legend:
1. One of Cohen’s grandfathers was a rabbi who authored a 700-page volume on the Talmud while the other was the founding president of the Canadian Jewish Congress. His father was a successful garment purveyor who died when Leonard was only nine years old.
2. Cohen tried his hand at law school and spent a year in the School of General Studies at Columbia University in New York City, but he soon returned to Montreal to pursue his writing.
3. His brilliant album, Various Positions, which includes the classic “Hallelujah,” was deemed not good enough for U.S. release by Columbia Records.
4. For almost two years, he lived in a cabin in Tennessee that had been the home of Boudleaux Bryant, author of “Bye Bye Love.”
5. He also lived on the Greek island of Hydra for the better part of eight years on less than a thousand dollars a year. He only returned to Canada once a year to apply for government grants or sell off a few poems to make the $1,000 he needed to cover his expenses in Hydra.
6. Phil Spector once showed up at his door at 4 a.m. with a bottle of wine and a .45, which he cocked and shoved into Cohen’s neck.
7. Cohen’s favorite song was “Blueberry Hill” by Fats Domino.
8. In 1986, he appeared in the “French Twist” episode of ‘Miami Vice,’ playing the laid back French Secret Service agent Francois Zolan.
9. In the mid 1990s Leonard Cohen took a hiatus from his career and retreated to the Mt. Baldy Zen Center in the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles. He spent the next five years practicing Rinzai Zen meditation, and became personal assistant to the center’s founder and leader Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi.
10. Leonard Cohen never married saying in several interviews that he was “too frightened” to do so. However, he did father two children in the 1970s with Los Angeles artist Suzanna Elrod.