Stars and world leaders
pay tribute to Leonard Cohen
Singers from Bob Dylan to Elton John led tributes to the musician, who died at his LA home on Thursday
Friday 11 November 2016 18.42 GMT
In a year in which so many musical greats have passed away, few have been so honoured in their own words as Leonard Cohen. News of the singer’s death, at his home in LA on Thursday, prompted an outpouring of tributes from world leaders, musicians, poets and writers who often turned to Cohen’s lyrics to express their sadness.
The 82-year-old had alluded to his own death in a recent and wide-ranging interview with the New Yorker editor, David Remnick, in which he talked about his unfinished poems and lyrics.
“I am ready to die,” he said. “I hope it’s not too uncomfortable. That’s about it for me.”
The singer-songwriter later said he had been exaggerating. “I’ve always been into self-dramatisation. I intend to live forever.”
Some of the world’s biggest artist count the Canadian-born Cohen, who was a poet and novelist as well as a musician, among their influences. He was a songwriting peer and friend of Bob Dylan, who told the New Yorker: “When people talk about Leonard, they fail to mention his melodies, which to me, along with his lyrics, are his greatest genius ... As far as I know, no one else comes close to this in modern music.”
Cohen’s son Adam released a brief statement on Friday to say his father had passed away peacefully and in the knowledge that with his latest album, You Want it Darker, Cohen had completed “one of his greatest records”.
- The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said he had “managed to reach the highest of artistic achievement. His ability to conjure the vast array of human emotion made him one of the most influential and enduring musicians ever.”
- Elton John called Cohen “unique – a giant of a man and a brilliant songwriter. Irreplaceable. Loved him and his wonderful music.”
- Nick Cave: “For many of us Leonard Cohen was the greatest songwriter of them all. Utterly unique and impossible to imitate no matter how hard we tried. He will be deeply missed by so many.”
- Robert Cory, Cohen’s producer: “Unmatched in his creativity, insight and crippling candour, Leonard Cohen was a true visionary whose voice will be sorely missed. I was blessed to call him a friend, and for me to serve that bold artistic spirit firsthand was a privilege and great gift. He leaves behind a legacy of work that will bring insight, inspiration and healing for generations to come.”
- Sylvie Simmons, Cohen’s biographer: “In this year of losses, so many losses, in this black week for the world, this tops them all … he went out in a blaze of glory. Died with his boots on – or his suit on – having delivered a masterpiece before he left. You Want it Darker is one of his richest, deepest and most beautiful albums in a lifetime of rich, deep and beautiful work. So many stories about musicians and poets have an unhappy ending but not Leonard. He was ready, and he didn’t linger once his work was done. He knew darkness, looked right into its eyes, could even see the funny side.”
- Clive Davis: “Leonard Cohen was truly a master songwriter. No one sounded like him either vocally or lyrically. He penetrated your soul with his haunting voice and his piercing words. Leonard was absolutely one-of-a-kind, a poet and an artist who put you under his spell time and time again.”
- John Cale: “Very upsetting news to learn of Leonard’s passing. The world has one less gentle soul tonight. We thank you for the multitude of gifts you left us.”
- Beck: “So long Leonard, thank you for your words, your songs, your life – a gentleman, a master, a hero – thank you for looking so deeply, for sharing your time, giving us your finely wrought diamonds, for lighting the dark corners where the soul lives, for translating the otherness we recognise but fail to express, tonight we celebrate you and send you our gratitude.”
- Simon Le Bon: “Spent a good deal of my early teens, just me & #LeonardCohenalone together in my suburban bedroom. It was a gentle & fulfilling love affair.”
- Cat Stevens: “The fragileness of life has been once again exposed with the passing on of Leonard Cohen. May God grant him peace … forever.”
- Russell Crowe: “Dear Leonard Cohen, thanks for the quiet nights, the reflection, the perspective, the wry smiles and the truth.”
- Bianca Jagger: “In this dark moment after the US election let’s remember Leonard Cohen ‘There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.’”
- Boy George: “We have lost a great artist, poet and poignant force of energy. R.I.P Leonard Cohen.”