Leonard Cohen was born in 1934 in Montreal, Quebec. He was part of a middle-class orthodox Jewish family.
He was very active in school clubs as a teenager. He was even Student Council president one year.
Cohen taught himself guitar and could be found in the delis and bars of old Montreal, soaking in the culture.
After graduating from McGill University he devoted himself to writing poetry.
For a number of years in the late 50s and early 60s he lived in semi-reclusion on a Greek island.
By the mid 1960s he’d had enough of the life of a poverty-striken writer, proclaiming “I decided I’m going to be a songwriter. I want to write songs.”
He signed with Columbia Records in 1967 and recorded “Songs of Leonard Cohen”. Other artists such as Joan Baez, Judy Collins and James Taylor started covering his songs.
The 1980s were the most productive of Cohen’s career. In 1984 he released the album “Various Positions” which included the song “Hallelujah”.
His own rendition of “Hallelujah” got a lacklustre reception, but when it was reinterpreted by John Cale and, later, Jeff Buckley it gained wide recognition. Since then it has been recorded more than 200 times.
In the 1990’s Cohen retreated to a Buddhist monestary near Los Angeles, and became an ordained Buddhist monk.
Cohen returned to the music scene in the early 2000s, and spent the next few years recording and touring. His live concerts often drew record crowds.
Leonard Cohen died in 2016, hailed as one of the most respected songwriters of the era.