Rock Star and a Man of a Thousand Looks
If ever a man looked the part of a rock star, it is Lenny Kravitz, the singer, musician, songwriter, producer (and more) who has been a major attraction since 1989 when his introductory album, “Let Love Rule,” served notice that an important new star had arrived.
Kravitz, who, believe it or not, is now 50 years old, loves clothes nearly as much as he loves music, or so it seems. He has been labeled a fashion guru, a clothing connoisseur, even a “fashionisto” (male equivalent of “fasionista”). And to say the least, he is not afraid to take chances. Looking “just like everybody else” has no appeal for him.
“People see my photos and think I labor over my image and I’m this cool, brooding artist,” he said, “but I’m just having fun with it.”
Lenny Kravitz is the son of the late actress Roxie Roker, best remembered for the many years she played Helen Willis on “The Jeffersons,” and the late Sy Kravitz, an NBC television news producer and a jazz promoter.
ALTHOUGH he is categorized as a rock act, the truth is that Kravitz’s music routinely incorporates many elements of R&B, retro-soul, reggae, etc. He plays guitar, bass, keyboards, drums and percussion. He also does his own backup vocals, a skill relatively few are able to master.
Kravitz, who would be pleased if more Black people were into what he has to offer, has the distinction of having won a Grammy Award four consecutive years, 1999-2002, in the Best Male Rock Vocal Performance category.
It is no accident that he often sends out positive messages in his music.
“People accuse me of being motivational, like it is a bad thing, but that’s just how I was raised,” he said. “My mom raised me in a positive environment, with lots of love in my heart, and that reflects in my music. Love is becoming a lost concept.”
He further elaborated, “We weren’t put here to be miserable. I am just offering the gift that God gave me, and if somebody is moved by it, that’s beautiful.”
KRAVITZ IS also an accomplished actor with several film credits, including “The Butler,” “The Hunger Games” and “Precious.”
When he was only 3 years old, Lenny was using kitchen utensils, like pots and pans, to make the music he was hearing in his head. At age 5 he began playing drums, later adding guitar.
“My parents were very supportive of the fact that I loved music early on,” he recalled, “and they took me to a lot of shows.”
Being exposed to an array of artists, such as Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, the Isley Brothers and many others, had a major influence on Kravitz.
That was when he living in the city of his birth, New York. When he was 10, the family moved to Los Angeles because his mother had won the part on “The Jeffersons.”
IT WAS in LA that young Lenny got exposed to rock music, which he felt a kinship with. Among the artists who made a lasting impression and influenced him were Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, the Who and Aerosmith.
When “Let Love Rule” became a major success, Lenny Kravitz never missed a beat. Among his nine subsequent albums were “Mama Said,” “Black and White America,” “It is Time for a Love Revolution,” “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” and his latest, “Strut.”
In 1985, Kravitz met actress Lisa Bonet, who had become famous as a “Cosby kid” on the long-running “The Cosby Show,” backstage at a New Edition concert. They eloped in 1987. Their daughter, Zoe Isabella, was born in 1988. Today she is a successful actress, singer and model. Kravitz and Bonet were divorced in 1993.
Looking over his life and his career, Kravitz stated, “My career has been a gradual climb. I think that’s part of the reason why I’ve had longevity.”