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Leonard Cohen on the road to singing sensation

Poet, musician, novelist, ladies' man, monk, actor... Leonard Norman Cohen, one of Canada's most influential cultural icons was born on Sept. 21, 1934 in Montreal. Whether from a mountaintop at a Buddhist retreat in California, on the Greek island of Hydra or strolling along the streets of his beloved ville d'amour, the melancholy bard of popular music has delighted fans worldwide with his poetry, novels and music.

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Despite his success as a writer, Leonard Cohen finds it hard to pay the rent. He decides to give music a try because Cohen thought he could make more money as a musician. "The song seized me and the appetite for reaching many people seized me."

"I always thought of myself as a singer," he tells Beryl Fox in a 1966 interview on CBC's This Hour Has Seven Days, "and kind of got side-tracked to literature." He leaves the Greek island of Hydra in 1966 for Nashville and by Christmas of 1967, Cohen releases his remarkable debut album, The Songs of Leonard Cohen.
• At 17, Leonard Cohen had a country-western trio called the Buckskin Boys. He named his band Buckskin Boys because all three members of the group just happened to possess buckskin jackets.

• Cohen also dabbled in acting. One of the more memorable performances was his cameo as the head of Interpol on the popular TV show Miami Vice.
Medium: Television
Program: This Hour has Seven Days
Broadcast Date: May 8, 1966
Guest(s): Leonard Cohen
Host: Beryl Fox, Patrick Watson
Duration: 9:27

Last updated: September 26, 2014

Page consulted on September 26, 2014

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