Entertainment & Arts

Leonard Cohen: Stars pay tribute to influential singer

Leonard Cohen performing at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 Image copyright Redferns
Image caption Cohen's fans stretch back many decades

Musicians, authors and politicians have paid tribute to singer Leonard Cohen following his death at the age of 82.

Sir Elton John said he was "a giant of a man and a brilliant songwriter", while Boy George called him a "poignant force of energy".

Russell Crowe thanked the Hallelujah songwriter for "the perspective, the wry smiles and the truth".

JK Rowling tweeted the singer's lyrics: "There is a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in."

Actress Mia Farrow and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda were among others to quote the songwriter's lyrics on Twitter, while Carole King tweeted her respects with "RIP".

Peter Gabriel said Cohen's "unique voice painted unforgettable pictures" and that "there is a big hole where he stood".

"Anyone looking at an empty page trying to write a song lyric sits in the shadow of the mountain that was Leonard Cohen," he wrote.

"Another magical voice stilled," wrote Bette Midler, while Justin Timberlake said Cohen had "a spirit and soul beyond compare".

In a lengthy tribute, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Cohen 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."

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also paid tribute, describing him as "a great creator" and "a talented artist".

An impromptu vigil has been held outside the singer's Montreal home, with fans lighting candles and leaving messages and flowers.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Tributes have been left at Cohen's home in Montreal

Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler thanked Cohen "for so many years of music", while Canadian singer Alanis Morissette marked his passing with a crying face emoji.

British singers Lily Allen and Paloma Faith also paid tribute, with the latter describing his death as "a tragic loss".

"As if the week could get any worse," tweeted Allen, one of a number of celebrities to allude to this week's election results in America.

US comedian Sarah Silverman said his death would make people "remember songs like Come Healing which is a good one for these days".

Duran Duran singer Simon Le Bon wrote: "Spent a good deal of my early teens, just me & #LeonardCohen alone together in my suburban bedroom. It was a gentle & fulfilling love affair."

Alexandra Burke, whose cover version of Cohen's Hallelujah was the Christmas number one after she won The X Factor in 2008, said: "Leonard Cohen, a lyrical legend, a man who will continue to inspire. A voice that will always live on. Thank you for the memories."

Nick Cave, who covered Cohen's Avalanche on his 1984 album From Her to Eternity, said he was "the greatest songwriter of them all - utterly unique and impossible to imitate, no matter how hard we tried".

'Musical touchstone'

Neil Portnow, chief executive of the Recording Academy, which celebrates music through the Grammy Awards, described Cohen as "one of the most revered pop poets and a musical touchstone for many songwriters".

"His extraordinary talent had a profound impact on countless singers and songwriters, as well as the wider culture," he added.

"Unmatched in his creativity, insight and crippling candour, Leonard Cohen was a true visionary whose voice will be sorely missed," Cohen's manager Robert Kory told Rolling Stone.

"He leaves behind a legacy of work that will bring insight, inspiration and healing for generations to come."

BBC DJ Mark Radcliffe said Cohen had been "incredible to watch" when he performed at the Glastonbury Festival in 2008.

"There were 70,000 people in front of that stage but he made it feel like a tiny club," he recalled.

Like the late David Bowie, he went on, Cohen had "made great music right to the end with the enigma intact."

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionHallelujah producer John Lissauer tells Radio 4's Today programme how the album was almost never released

Producer John Lissauer, who worked with Cohen on such albums as New Skin for the Old Ceremony and Various Positions, said he had been "an iconic figure."

"He was so consistent in his devotion to the craft and his devotion to recording and performing," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Appearing on the same programme, former chancellor Lord Darling said seeing Cohen play a gig in London had proved uplifting as he coped with the financial crisis.

"I went along prepared to be even more gloom-filled than I was feeling in the summer of 2008 and actually I came out of it very cheered up," he told the BBC earlier.

"It's no surprise he inspired so many people."

Image copyright @IAMJHUD

Singer Jennifer Hudson thanked Cohen for his "dedication to music", accompanying her Twitter post with footage of a performance of Hallelujah she gave in 2014.

Yusuf, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, said Cohen's death had "once again exposed... the fragileness of life".

Canadian author Margaret Atwood said his death had made her "very sad", sentiments echoed by Hobbit actor Luke Evans.

'Cohen set the standard'

Other actors to have paid their respects include Annette Bening, who described Cohen as "the most inspiring performer" and "a genius".

Antonio Banderas called him "a great poet", while Kiefer Sutherland described his countryman as "a brilliant Canadian artist".

Appearing on the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire show, music critic Neil McCormick described Cohen as "an Old Testament poet combined with a hard-boiled comedian".

"I've never met someone who took much care with his phrasing and words," he said. "He could say the darkest things about the human condition, but lace it with a humour that made it palatable."

Singer Frank Turner, appearing on the same programme, likened Cohen's songs to psalms - "perfect creations that felt like he had discovered them rather than wrote them."

"He sets a standard for all songwriters everywhere," Turner continued. "He wrote words that will stand the test of time and give the rest of us something to aspire to."

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