Leonard Cohen’s Walther PPK1 was mentioned in a recent post, Quiet And Devastating, Like Leonard Cohen In Cowboy Boot:
He also bought a Walther PPK, which, I suspect, was then the handgun of choice among your Tennessee transplants who were Canadian singer-songwriters-poets-novelist-soon to be icons
Ira Nadel, writing in Various Positions (Random House of Canada, 1996), notes that Cohen’s Walther was “the largest weapon he [Leonard Cohen] had at the time [when Cohen lived in Franklin, Tennessee, where he moved in 1968],” implying that Cohen owned other, albeit smaller caliber, guns.
Winchester Centennial ’66 Rifle
The Winchester rifle is discussed in this excerpt from Leonard Cohen, The Lord Byron of Rock-and-Roll by Karen Schoemer (New York Times, November 29, 1992) found at Speaking Cohen:
After New York, Mr. Cohen lived for a year on a 1,500-acre homestead in Franklin, Tenn., rented for $75 a month. “Ah, that was a very pleasant period of my life,” he says wistfully. “There was a shack — a well-equipped shack, but not much more than that — beside a stream. There were peacocks and peahen. They used to come to my cabin every morning. I’d feed them. I had one of those centennial rifles that Remington put out, I think, in ’67.” He pauses. “When was this country founded? ’76?” He seems somewhat dismayed that mathematics could interfere with a colorful detail of his story. “Anyway, I had some kind of centennial rifle. I would amuse myself by shooting icicles on the far side of the creek.” [emphasis mine]
While the Bicentennial of the United States, the date of which Mr Cohen was attempting to plug into his formula to calculate when he purchased the rifle, was, one supposes, a nice enough event, it was not the occasion the Winchester Repeating Arms Company chose to celebrate with the manufacture of their Centennial Rifle. Chuck Hawks explains:
1966 was the Winchester Repeating Arms Company’s 100th year of operation. To commemorate this occasion, Winchester produced a run of fancy Model 94 rifles. These were based on post 1964 Model 94′s actions with a gold plated receiver and forend cap, brass “rifle” (curved) buttplate, saddle ring, and a heavy octagon barrel with a full length magazine that was nicely polished and deeply blued. The straight hand stock was select walnut. All were in caliber .30-30 Winchester. There were rifle (26″) and carbine (20″) barrel lengths, and sets of rifle and carbine with consecutive serial numbers were also offered. The point to all of the gold and brass was to make the 1966 Centennial reminiscent of the brass framed Winchester 1866 “Yellow Boy” rifle that was Winchester’s first product.2
.45 Caliber Pistol
In 1973, Cohen flew to Jerusalem to sign up on the Israeli side in the Yom Kippur War but was instead assigned to a USO-style entertainer tour of front-line tank emplacements in the Sinai Desert, coming under fire. Cohen, according to Nadel (Various Positions), armed himself by stealing a .45 pistol from a deserted shed at a desert airport.3
It was also a .45 pistol that, according to anecdote often told by Cohen, Phil Spector held to Cohen’s head.
His album Death of a Ladies’ Man was produced by Phil Spector, the reclusive genius of girl-group pop. “I was flipped out at the time,” Cohen said later, “and he certainly was flipped out. For me, the expression was withdrawal and melancholy, and for him, megalomania and insanity and a devotion to armaments that was really intolerable. In the state that he found himself, which was post-Wagnerian, I would say Hitlerian, the atmosphere was one of guns – the music was a subsidiary enterprise … At a certain point Phil approached me with a bottle of kosher red wine in one hand and a .45 in the other, put his arm around my shoulder and shoved the revolver into my neck and said, ‘Leonard, I love you.’ I said, ‘I hope you do, Phil.’”4
.38 Caliber Pistol
Leonard Cohen’s father, Nathan Cohen, served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during World War I and consequently possessed what Nadel (Various Positions) called “a military souvenir,” which Leonard Cohen describes in “The Favourite Game” as “a huge .38.” The problem is that the only handguns Canadian forces were issued or allowed to purchase during World War I were .45 caliber pistols.5 Of course, “a military souvenir” could include any handgun Nathan Cohen came to own as a result of the war. The .38 pistol in the image is the Smith & Wesson Military & Police Model initially developed in 1899 and subsequently used by the military and police forces in many countries.
Update: See also Bang Bang – A 2nd Shot At Leonard Cohen & Guns_____________________
- The handgun pictured is a Walther PPK but is not necessarily the same model as that owned by Cohen. [↩]
- For firearms aficionados, much more information about this model is available at the link. [↩]
- The .45 pistol pictured is a Colt M1911 pistol, first adopted by the US military in 1911 and which, despite its age, is still used alongside modern pistols throughout the world today. It may not be the model of .45 Cohen purloined. [↩]
- Who held a gun to Leonard Cohen’s head? by Tim de Lisle. The Guardian, 16 September 2004. [↩]
- Wikipedia [↩]