Lenny Kravitz

  • Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist born in 1964 in New York City.
  • Kravitz showed interest in music as early as 3 years old, and said that he wanted to be a musician when he was 5. His parents exposed him to R&B, soul, jazz, classical and gospel music. When his family moved to Los Angeles in 1974, his mother encouraged him to join the California Boys Choir. In California, he was introduced to rock music. At Beverly Hills High School, he was accepted into the school’s music program. He taught himself to play the bass guitar and piano, and aspired to be a session musician.
  • Record labels told him that his music either “wasn’t black enough” or “wasn’t white enough,” so he recorded an album on his own in 1987 and 1988, going by the name Romeo Blue. By late 1988, Kravitz approached a friend who was a music supervisor on TV shows, asking him to help him find a record deal. After a month of shopping the album, several labels showed interest, and he was signed to a record deal in 1989. He decided to drop the Romeo Blue moniker, and Lenny Kravitz was ready to make his mark in the music biz.
  • His debut album, Let Love Rule, was released in 1989. A rock and funk album with a 60s sound, it was moderately successful in the U.S., and a bigger success in Europe. The title track peaked at #5 on the Alternative Songs chart. Kravitz played essentially all of the instruments on the album, so he had to quickly assemble a band to support the album on tour.
  • In 1990, he co-wrote the song Justify My Love, which Madonna took to #1 on the Hot 100 chart. The following year, he released his second album – Mama Said. The album was certified double platinum, on the strength of the single It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over, which peaked at #2 on the Hot 100. In 1993, he wrote a song for Aerosmith, and worked with Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Al Green and Curtis Mayfield on various projects. That same year, he released Are You Gonna Go My Way. The title track won a MTV Music Video Award for Best Male Video, and it reached #2 on the Alternative Songs chart and #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart. The rock ballad Believe also was a top 10 song on the Alternative chart.
  • Two more albums were released in the 90s – Circus in 1995 and in 1998. Circus had a top 10 alternative hit with Rock and Roll is Dead. became his most successful album, certified 3x platinum. It included his signature song, Fly Away, which reached #12 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Alternative chart. It won a Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Performance in 1999. Later in 1999, he contributed a cover version of The Guess Who’s American Woman to the soundtrack for the film Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me – he won his second Grammy award in 2000 with the song.
  • His Greatest Hits compilation album in 2000 included one new song, Again, that peaked at #4 on the Hot 100. He won his third Grammy award with the song, for Best Rock Song.
  • Kravitz released 3 albums in the 00s, with modest success. Two songs managed to break into the Hot 100 Top 40 – Dig In (winning another Grammy) and Lady. His 3 albums in the 10s have not been commercial successes, but his legacy is such that his tours are popular (he has toured with U2 and he performed at the 2015 Super Bowl halftime show). His most recent album, Raise Vibration, was released in October 2018 – it includes a funk-rock song called Low that includes vocals by Michael Jackson and it reached #1 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.
  • He has other interests – he has performed in over 10 films and TV projects, including the role of Cinna in the first 2 Hunger Games films, and a role in the Oscar-awarded film Precious. He also designs furniture, and he owns a company that designs interiors of luxury homes, hotels and apartments.
  • I found a cool video clip of Lenny Kravitz and The Guess Who performing American Woman in concert. That would have been something to see live!

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