Here are some important dates in the life of Canadian poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen, author of many cult songs including Suzanne, Hallelujah, So Long Marianne, I’m Your Man and Bird on the Wire.
1) 21 September 1934: Cohen is born in Montreal to a Jewish family of Polish origin. His father dies when he is nine years old.
2) 1956-1961: After studying history at McGill University, Montreal, and spending a year at Columbia University in New York, he publishes his first poetry volumes -- Let Us Compare Mythologies then The Spice-Box of Earth -- before heading to Europe on a scholarship.
3) 1963: During a seven-year spell living on the Greek island of Hydra, he writes Flowers for Hitler, one of his most controversial poetry collections, his first novel The Favorite Game and Beautiful Losers, a book about religion and sexuality that prompts the Boston Globe to compare him to fellow novelist James Joyce.
4) Early 1968: His musical career begins with his first album Songs of Leonard Cohen, a year after the success of Suzanne performed by American singer Judy Collins.
5) 1970: He begins his first tour of the United States, Canada and Europe, participating in the Isle of Wight music festival.
6) 1988: The huge success of I’m Your Man, an album in a new style using synthesisers and more sombre lyrics, is recorded in Los Angeles where Cohen is now living.
7) 1994: Cohen retires to a Buddhist monastery on Mount Baldy, California, and in August 1996 is ordained as a Zen monk with the name Jikan, meaning The Silent One.
8) 1999: Defrauded and almost bankrupted by his impresario, he begins performing again and releases a new album, Ten New Songs.
9) 2010: Already firmly established in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in New York, Cohen receives a Grammy lifetime achievement award. He is also made a Companion to the Order of Canada (2003) and given the Prince of Asturias Award for Letters (2011).
10) 2016: For his 82nd birthday, he makes his 14th album together with his son Adam and the choir of Montreal synagogue, adding to the intensity of his voice that is now darker than ever as he sings Hineni, hineni, my Lord, meaning I’m ready, my Lord in Hebrew.