Leonard Cohen

Singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen has earned respect from his peers,

music critics and a cult audience since the late '60s.

Leonard Norman Cohen was born 65 years ago today in Montreal. In

college he formed a country-western trio called the Buckskin Boys.

He also began writing poems, publishing his first collection, "Let Us

Compare Mythologies," in 1956.

His second collection, 1961's "The Spice Box of Earth," brought him

global acclaim in the poetry world. Cohen recited his poetry to

jazz-piano backing; he also began singing his works and playing

guitar in cafes.

After failing to sell his songs in the '50s, Cohen published two

novels, 1963's "The Favorite Game" and 1966's "Beautiful Losers."

Judy Collins recorded "Suzanne"

(RealAudio excerpt of Cohen version),

from Cohen's 1966 collection "Parasites of Heaven," on her LP

In My Life. She also introduced him at her concerts, increasing

his recognition as a singer/songwriter.

Cohen performed at the 1967 Newport Folk Festival and issued his debut

LP, Songs of Leonard Cohen, a year later. His music got further

notice when it was featured in director Robert Altman's 1971 film

"McCabe and Mrs. Miller," which starred Warren Beatty.

Cohen toured the United States and Europe and appeared at the Isle of

Wight Festival in 1970. In the mid-'70s, Cohen lived on a Greek island

and continued to release albums featuring his melancholy songs

accompanied by his monotone vocals and spare production.

Throughout his career, Cohen has produced folk standards such as

"Bird on a Wire," "The Story of Isaac" and "Famous Blue Raincoat."

In 1973 Cohen's music became the basis for a theatrical production

called "Sisters of Mercy." The Best of Leonard Cohen (1975) is

one of his most popular albums.

Cohen's Death of a Ladies' Man (1977) was helmed by legendary

producer Phil Spector, but the two men ended up disagreeing over the

final product.

In the 1980s his records became less frequent.

Various Positions (1984) was a religious-themed LP featuring

tracks such as "Hallelujah," "The Law," Heart With No Companion" and

"If It Be Your Will."

In 1987 singer Jennifer Warnes reignited interest in Cohen when she

recorded Famous Blue Raincoat, an LP of his songs. The next

year's I'm Your Man was one of Cohen's best-selling albums.

Cohen's most recent LP of new material is 1992's The Future.

Live followed two years later. In 1997 Sony Music issued

More Best of Leonard Cohen, featuring "Everybody Knows"

(which Don Henley recorded) and "I'm Your Man."

Over the years, Cohen's songs have been recorded by a varied array of

artists, including Joe Cocker, Rita Coolidge, Joan Baez, Neil Diamond,

Diana Ross and Nick Cave.

In 1984 Cohen wrote, directed and scored "I Am a Hotel," a half-hour

short feature that won first prize at the Festival International de

Television de Montreux in Switzerland and was submitted for Academy

Award consideration.

His rock opera "Night Magic," a collaboration with singer/songwriter

Lewis Furey, won the Canadian Juno award for Best Movie Score in 1985.

Cohen also appeared on the TV show "Miami Vice."

Last year, director Armelle Brusq released a film on Cohen's daily

life titled "Leonard Cohen Portrait."

In her autobiography "Trust Your Heart," Judy Collins wrote:

"[Cohen's] songs carried me through dark years like mantras or stones

that you hold in your hand while the sun rises or the fire burns. They

kept me centered as I stood in front of thousands of people .... my

voice singing his ethereal lyrics. The audience responded to his

writing, the songs were like water to a person dying of thirst. They

were songs for the spirit when our spirits were strained to the

breaking point."

Other birthdays: Don Preston (Mothers of Invention), 67; Kevin Murphy

(American Breed, Rufus), 56; Don Felder (Eagles), 52; Dave Gregory

(XTC), 47; Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor (Motörhead), 45; Corinne

Drewery (Swing Out Sister), 40; Faith Hill, 32; Tyler Stewart

(Barenaked Ladies), 32; and David Jude Jolicoeur, a.k.a. Trugoy the

Dove (De La Soul), 31.