Lenny Kravitz

Biography

Members: Leonard Albert Kravitz

Active: 1989-present

HISTORY

Leonard Albert Kravitz (born May 26, 1964) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and guitarist whose retro-style amalgam of rock, pop, funk, and even techno is inspired by such music icons as Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon. Like Prince and Sly Stone before him, Kravitz uses a multi-ethnic, mixed-sex group back-up band.

Kravitz plays guitar, bass, drums, piano, saxophone, trumpet and sitar. He usually plays all the instruments on each recorded track.

EARLY LIFE

Kravitz was born in New York City, and is the son of Russian-Jewish American film producer Sy Kravitz and Bahamian American actress Roxie Roker, best known as Helen Willis, a regular character on The Jeffersons. Kravitz was named after his uncle, Pfc. Leonard Kravitz, who was killed in action in Korea while suppressing a Chinese attack and saving most of his platoon; he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Many within the Jewish community believe the Medal of Honor has been denied to Pfc. Kravitz because he was Jewish, citing similar circumstances in which others have been posthumously awarded the honor.

His parents moved to California. Having taught himself bass, piano, guitar, and drums at an early age and developed his singing voice in the California Boys Choir and the Metropolitan Opera, he attended Beverly Hills High School and performed under the artist name, Romeo Blue. At that stage, he was heavily influenced by Prince. His parents were friends with jazz greats Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Short, and Miles Davis so he grew up in a musical household although he would pursue a career in rock rather than jazz.

In the late 1980s, Kravitz returned to New York to pursue a musical career. He ended up sharing a house with Lisa Bonet of The Cosby Show. The two would fall in love and marry on November 16, 1987, Lisa's 20th birthday; they are divorced and have a daughter called Zoe. Kravitz would broaden his influences beyond Prince to classic rock and soul artists such as Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield and Bob Marley. He signed a contract with Virgin Records.

His 1989 debut album Let Love Rule was a moderate success, reaching #61 on the US Billboard album charts. The title track would reach #89 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #5 on the modern rock charts. The second single, "I Build This Garden For Us" reached #25 on the modern rock charts.

Kravitz gained greater recognition when Madonna reached number one with a cover version of his song, "Justify My Love" on her 1990 Immaculate Collection album. Kravitz's marriage to Lisa Bonet ended in the same year. He also briefly dated Madonna at this time.

The following year, his second album, Mama Said reached the top 40 of the Billboard album charts and songs on the album were influenced by his divorce from Bonet. It contained the hit single "It Ain't Over Til It's Over", which reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #10 on the Billboard R&B charts. "Always On The Run" featured Slash of Guns N' Roses and reached #8 on the modern rock charts and #40 on the mainstream rock charts. "Stand By My Woman" would scrape the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #76, while "What Goes Around Comes Around" reached the top 40 of the Billboard R&B chart. The album would also feature a contribution by Sean Lennon which was his first appearance on record.

In 1993, Are You Gonna Go My Way was released, reaching #12 on the Billboard 200 and Kravitz earned a Brit Award for best international male artist in 1994. The title track won a MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video for the video produced by Mark Romanek, in which Kravitz slung his dreadlocks and wore high-heeled platform boots. The single would reach #1 on the Australian and Billboard mainstream rock charts and #2 on the modern rock charts. Several singles from the album would follow including:

"Believe" #60 on the Billboard Hot 100, #15 on the mainstream rock charts and #10 on the modern rock charts;
"Is There Any Love In Your Heart" would reach #19 on the mainstream rock charts; and
"Heaven Help/Spinning Around Over You" reached #80 on the Billboard Hot 100 and "Heaven Help" reached #92 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles charts.
Kravitz covered the Kiss song "Deuce" for a tribute album, with the track reaching #15 on the Billboard rock chart. He released the Circus album in 1995, which reached number 10 on the Billboard chart on the back of his past achievement. However, it only had two singles: "Rock And Roll Is Dead" peaked at #75 on the Billboard Hot 100, #4 on the mainstream rock chart and #10 on the modern rock charts. "Can't Get You Off My Mind" reached #62 on the Billboard chart and #36 on the US adult chart.

LATER CAREER

With 5 (1999), Kravitz embraced digital technology such as synthesizers and tape loops for the first time. 5 introduced his music to an even wider audience, particularly in Europe, thanks to the hit single "Fly Away" being featured prominently in both car manufacturer and airline commercials. 5 would reach #28 on the Billboard 200, with "Fly Away" reaching #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1998 and #1 on the modern and mainstream charts. He would win the first of his four consecutive Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards of 1999. Other hits from the album included:

"If You Can't Say No" reached the top 40 on the Billboard mainstream rock chart in 1999 - dance producer Brian Transeau would remix the track; and
"I Belong To You" would reach #71 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #15 on the Billboard adult chart in 2000.
His cover version of The Guess Who's hit "American Woman" won him another Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards of 2000 and helped The Guess Who find a new audience. The song originally came from the soundtrack of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and was added to the 5 album as a bonus track in 1999. The song would reach #49 on the Billboard 100, #3 on the Billboard modern rock chart and #7 on the Billboard mainstream rock chart.

Kravitz released a Greatest Hits compilation in 2000. It proved to be his most successful album, reaching #2 on the Billboard 200 and Canadian album charts and achieve triple platinum status. The single "Again" reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on a world adult composite chart (based on the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France and Australia) and US adult chart. The track would also earn him his third consecutive Grammy for the Best Male Rock Vocal in the Grammy Awards of 2001.

Kravitz released his sixth album Lenny in October 2001. It reached #12 on the Billboard 200 and #9 on the Canadian charts. The first single from the album "Dig In" reached #31 on the Billboard 100 and went top ten in the world adult and US adult charts. It also reached #1 in Argentina, went top 5 in Portugal and top 10 in Italy. He won his fourth consecutive Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal at the Grammy Awards of 2002. Subsequent singles included:

"Stillness of Heart" went top 10 in Italy, top 20 in the US and world adult charts and Argentina and top 40 in Canada and the UK;
"Believe in Me" reached #1 in Portugal, went top 10 in the Netherlands, top 20 in Italy and Germany and reached the top 100 world sales and airplay charts; and
"If I Could Fall In Love" reached the US adult top 40.
Jay-Z invited Kravitz to appear on the track "Guns and Roses" on his 2002 Blueprint 2: the Gift and the Curse. Kravitz would also join P. Diddy, Pharrell Williams and Loon on the track "Show Me Your Soul" from the Bad Boys 2 soundtrack. In 2004, he would appear on a track on N.E.R.D's album Fly or Die. Jay-Z would appear on the track "Storm" on Kravitz's 2004 Baptism album.

In early 2003, Kravitz released the track "We Want Peace" as a download-only track as a protest against the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The track reached #1 on the world internet download charts and MP3.com download chart. Kravitz also appeared on Unity, the official album of the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Also in 2003, Kravitz worked with Michael Jackson on a song titled "Another Day". Kravitz said of the experience, working with Michael Jackson was probably the best recording experience of my life. He was totally cool, absolutely professional and a beautiful, beautiful guy. And let's not forget, Michael is a musical genius.

Kravitz's seventh album Baptism was released in May 2004. On his website, Kravitz says that he chose the title because "I've made my first record all over again. That's how it feels, as pure as the beginning." Baptism would debut at number 14 on the US album charts, in the top 50 of the Australian album charts and in the top 75 of the UK album charts. The first single, "Where Are We Running," reached #69 on the Billboard Hot 100, top 25 on a composite European chart and top 20 on Internet charts, Argentina, Italy and the world and US top 20 as of the end of May 2004. "Storm," featuring Jay-Z, reached the top 100 of the Billboard Hot 100 and the top 50 of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts. However, "Lady" became the album's surprise hit, making the US Top 30 and propelling "Baptism" to gold status. From March 2005, Lenny toured all over the world with the tour Electric Church, which ended at the Brixton Academy, London in July 2005. Kravitz is currently serving as the opening act for Aerosmith on their fall 2005 tour.

Kravitz's latest project is a charity single for Hurricane Katrina victims. The single titled "From The Bottom Of My Heart" is a song written and composed by Michael Jackson. Kravitz traveled to London, along with other recording artists, to record the song. The single was anticipated to be released towards the end of 2005 but has been delayed to 2006.

On January 2006 Kravitz participated in absoluttracks a project of the vodka brand Absolut. He was given totally freedom to realize a track that reflected his vision of the product, the result was the track "Breathe". Later on this song was re-mixed by other ten musical producers from the eight most important markets of the vodka brand, the traks were only available via internet, in the sites www.absolutkravitz.com and www.absoluttracks.com, where also were wallpapers and videos relating to the subject.

Lately Kravitz has co-founded an interior design firm named Kravitz Design. He designed a chandelier for the Swarovsky Christal Palace Collection named "Casino Royale".

STUDIO ALBUMS

1989 - Let Love Rule
1991 - Mama Said
1993 - Are You Gonna Go My Way
1995 - Circus
1999 - 5
2000 - Greatest Hits
2001 - Lenny
2004 - Baptism

SINGLES

From Let Love Rule:

1989 - "Let Love Rule"
1989 - "Be"
1989 - "I Build This Garden For Us"
1989 - "Mr. Cab Driver"

From Mama Said:

1991 - "Always On The Run"
1991 - "Stop Draggin' Around"
1991 - "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over"
1991 - "Stand By My Woman"

From Are You Gonna Go My Way:

1993 - "Are You Gonna Go My Way?"
1993 - "Believe"

From Are You Gonna Go My Way/non-album track:

1993 - "Heaven Help"/"Spinning Around Over You"

From Are You Gonna Go My Way:

1993 - "Heaven Help"
1993 - "Is There Any Love In Your Heart"

From Circus:

1995 - "Rock And Roll Is Dead"
1995 - "Circus"
1996 - "Can't Get You Off My Mind"

From 5:

1998 - "If You Can't Say No"
1998 - "I Belong To You"
1998 - "Fly Away"
1998 - "Thinking of You"
1999 - "Black Velveteen"

From Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Soundtrack/some editions of 5:

1999 - "American Woman"

From Greatest Hits:

2000 - "Again"

From Lenny:

2001 - "Dig In"
2002 - "Stillness Of Heart"
2002 - "Believe In Me"
2002 - "If I Could Fall In Love"

From Bad Boys II Soundtrack:

2004 - "Show Me Your Soul" (with P. Diddy, Loon and Pharrell Williams)

From Baptism:

2004 - "Where Are We Runnin'?"
2004 - "California"
2004 - "Storm" (featuring Jay-Z)
2004 - "Calling All Angels"
2004 - "Lady"

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