Leonard Cohen (b. 21st September 1934 in Montréal, Quebec) is a Canadian poet, novelist and musician. His musical career has largely overshadowed his prior work as a poet and novelist, although he continued to publish poetry sporadically after his breakthrough in the music industry.
In 1967, disappointed with his lack of financial success as a writer, Cohen moved to the United States to pursue a career as a folk music singer-songwriter. During the 1960s, he was a fringe figure in Andy Warhol’s “Factory” crowd. Warhol speculated that Cohen had spent time listening to Nico in clubs and that this had influenced his musical style. His song “Suzanne” became a hit for Judy Collins and was for many years his most covered song. After performing at a few folk festivals, he came to the attention of Columbia Records representative John H. Hammond who signed Cohen to a record deal.
Musically, Cohen’s early songs are based in folk music, in terms of both melody and instrumentation; from the 1970s, though, his work begins to show the influence of various types of popular and cabaret music. Since the 1980s he has typically sung in a deep bass register, accompanied by synthesisers and female backing vocals.
Despite not embarking on a tour since 1993, Cohen was forced to go on the road in 2008, following the alleged misappropriation of over five million U.S. dollars from his retirement by his longtime former manager, Kelley Lynch. This left him close to bankruptcy, and Cohen’s mammoth world tour lasted two and a half years and included 246 shows.