Leonard Albert Kravitz, né à New York le 26 mai 1964, est un auteur compositeur américain. Il a passé son enfance entre Manhattan et Brooklyn. Ses principales influences sont Jimi Hendrix , John Lennon et Prince.
Leonard Albert « Lenny » Kravitz (born May 26, 1964) is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and arranger whose « retro » style incorporates elements of rock, soul, funk, reggae, hard rock, psychedelic, folk, and ballads.
In addition to singing lead and backing vocals, he often plays all the guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, and percussion himself when recording. He won the Grammy Award for « Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance » four years in a row from 1998 to 2002. He was ranked number ninety-three on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. Lenny Kravitz has sold an estimated twenty million albums worldwide.
Fils du producteur télé d’origine juive Sy Kravitz et de l’actrice d’origine bahaméenne Roxie Roker, connue notamment pour le rôle de Helen Willis dans la série télé The Jeffersons entre 1975 et 1985, il baigne dans le jazz et le R&B dès son plus jeune âge. Il part à Los Angeles où il chante dans le California Boys Choir et collabore avec Zubin Mehta. Sur les bancs du lycée, le Beverly Hills High School, il croise notamment Slash, le futur guitariste de Guns N’ Roses (qui joue sur 2 morceaux de l’album Mama Said) ainsi que l’actrice Angelina Jolie. Il est fils unique.
En 1986, Lenny s’installe à New York, avec sa petite amie, Lisa Bonet, une des héroïnes du Cosby Show. Ils se marient l’année d’après, à Las Vegas. Un an plus tard, en décembre 1988, ils donnent naissance à une fille, Zoë. Ce mariage se soldera toutefois par un divorce, en 1993, Lisa étant excédée des écarts de Lenny, notamment avec Madonna, pour laquelle il a co-écrit avec Ingrid Chavez et produit un titre, Justify My Love, en 1991.
Il a été un temps le compagnon, au cours des années 1990, de la chanteuse et actrice française Vanessa Paradis, pour laquelle il écrira et produira entièrement un album, sobrement intitulé Vanessa Paradis. Et l’on peut ajouter à ses conquêtes amoureuses la chanteuse Natalie Imbruglia, l’actrice Nicole Kidman ainsi que la top model Adriana Lima.
* Baptism (2004) classé 14 US, 74 UK
* Greatest Hits (2001) classé 2 US, 12 UK
* Lenny (2001) classé 12 US, 55 UK
* 5 (1998) classé 28 US, 18 UK
* Circus (1995) classé 10 US, 5 UK
* Are You Gonna Go My Way (1993) classé 12 US, 1 UK
* Mama Said (1991) classé 39 US, 8 UK
* Let Love Rule (1989) classé 61 US
* Kiss My Ass ( album de reprises du groupe Kiss sur lequel Lenny a joué 1 titre)
Kravitz was born in New York City, New York to Ukrainian-Jewish American NBC television news producer Sy Kravitz and Bahamian-American actress Roxie Roker, best known for her character Helen Willis in the 1970s hit television sitcom The Jeffersons. Kravitz was named after his uncle, Pfc. Leonard Kravitz, who was killed in action on March 6, 1951 near Yangpyeong, Korea at the age of 20. Pfc. Kravitz fearlessly defended against a surprise Chinese Army attack, saving most of his platoon; he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest military decoration of the United States Army.
Kravitz grew up spending weekdays on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with his parents, and weekends at his grandmother Bessie Roker’s house in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Kravitz began banging on pots and pans in the kitchen, playing them as drums at the age of three.
At the age of five, he wanted to be a musician. He began playing the drums and soon added guitar. Kravitz grew up listening to the music his parents listened to: R&B, jazz, classical, opera, gospel, and blues. « My parents were very supportive of the fact that I loved music early on, and they took me to a lot of shows, » Kravitz said.
Around the age of 7, he saw The Jackson 5 perform at Madison Square Garden, which became his favorite group.
His father, who was also a jazz promoter, was friends with Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Short, Miles Davis and other jazz greats. Ellington even played « Happy Birthday » for him one year when he was about 5. He was exposed to the soul music of Motown, Stax, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Gladys Knight, The Isley Brothers and Gamble and Huff growing up, key influences on his musical style. Kravitz often went to see New York theater, where his mother worked. His mother encouraged his dreams of pursuing music.
In 1974, the Kravitz family relocated to Los Angeles when Kravitz’s mother landed her role on The Jeffersons. At his mother’s urging, Kravitz joined the California Boys Choir for three years, where he performed a classical repertoire, and sang with the Metropolitan Opera. He performed in Mahler’s Third Symphony at the Hollywood Bowl. It was in Los Angeles that Kravitz was first introduced to rock music, listening to Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Aerosmith, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Cream, and The Who. Kravitz wanted to be a session musician. He also appeared as an actor in television commercials during this time.
Kravitz went to school enough to pass, but was spending more and more time jamming with friends. His parents became concerned, wanting him to have something to fall back on. At the age of 15, determined to have a music career, Kravitz moved out of his house. He stayed with friends, slept in friends’ cars, and at one point was even sleeping in his Ford Pinto. Inspired by David Bowie, Kravitz adopted the nom de guerre, « Romeo Blue, » a new persona complete with straightened hair and blue contact lenses, and began performing. Kravitz’s music at this time was heavily influenced by the synth-laden funk pop of Prince. In 1982, Kravitz graduated from high school and convinced his father to give him money to record instead of spending money on college. With his first demo, Kravitz received offers from several record labels, including I.R.S. Records, but Kravitz was told he needed to change his music to make it « black enough » to fit in with current radio-friendly styles. « I refused, » Kravitz told the Los Angeles Times in 1989.
In 1985, Kravitz’s parents divorced which had a profound impact on him. His relationship with his father became extremely strained. Kravitz focused on his music to help him get through this period. That year, Kravitz met actress Lisa Bonet backstage at a New Edition concert. Bonet worked on The Cosby Show, the number one rated show on television. They were close friends for two years before falling in love. Kravitz moved back to New York City where The Cosby Show was produced in 1987, moving in with now girlfriend Bonet. Kravitz and Bonet eloped on November 16, 1987, her 20th birthday, in a Las Vegas ceremony. Kravitz, still known as Romeo Blue at the time, suddenly found himself in the headlines of tabloid newspapers. They had a daughter, Zoë Isabella Kravitz, born on December 1, 1988.
With record labels still telling him his music wasn’t « black enough » or « white enough, » Kravitz decided to record an album on his own. Kravitz had met recording engineer/keyboardist/bassist Henry Hirsch in 1985 when recording a demo at his Hoboken, New Jersey recording studio. The two shared an interest in using real instruments and vintage recording equipment, as well as a love of R&B, jazz, and rock. Kravitz would go on to collaborate with Hirsch on most of his albums. Kravitz began working on his debut album with Hirsch over the next year and a half, with Kravitz’s father paying for the studio time. Kravitz met saxophonist Karl Denson and invited him to play on the song, « Let Love Rule« . Kravitz was so impressed with his playing that Denson played on much of the album. Denson toured with Kravitz for the next 5 years. After completing the album, Kravitz met with Virgin Records. The label was excited about the music he was making, music inspired by his relationship with wife Bonet and their new daughter. Kravitz dropped the name Romeo Blue. About his time as Romeo Blue, Kravitz said, « Ultimately, it got me back to myself. And when I finally did accept myself for myself, music started flowing out of me. » Kravitz signed with the Virgin Records in 1989.
Kravitz released his debut album Let Love Rule in the fall of 1989, a combination of rock and funk with a general 1960s vibe. Music critics were mixed: some felt Kravitz was a gifted new artist, others felt he was overpowered by his musical influences. The album was a moderate success in the United States, but became huge outside of the US, especially in Europe. Lisa Bonet directed and appeared in his debut music video for the title track, « Let Love Rule ». Kravitz set out on the road, first on a club tour, and then an opening slot for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.
In 1990, Kravitz co-wrote and produced the song « Justify My Love » for Madonna. The song, which appeared on her greatest hits album The Immaculate Collection and created controversy because of its explicit video, went to #1. Kravitz separated from Lisa Bonet in 1991, amid rumors of an affair between him and Madonna. Kravitz has denied any infidelity. Kravitz and Bonet divorced in 1993.
In 1991, Kravitz produced the self-titled album Vanessa Paradis for French singer and actress Vanessa Paradis. He played most of the instruments and co-wrote most of the songs on the album. He also released his second album, Mama Said, which was his first album to reach the Top 40. The songs on the album were about Bonet and dedicated to her, documenting his depression over their breakup.
Kravitz biggest single yet, « It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over« , went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single « Mama Said« , a tribute to his mother, and « Always on the Run« , featured Slash on guitar. « Stand By My Woman » and « What Goes Around Comes Around » followed. Sean Lennon co-wrote and played piano on the song, « All I Ever Wanted« .
In 1993, Kravitz wrote « Line Up » for Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, and appeared on Mick Jagger’s solo album, Wandering Spirit, in a cover of the Bill Withers’ soul classic, « Use Me« . That year Kravitz also got to work with idols Al Green and Curtis Mayfield.
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. During the presentation of the MTV Video Music Awards, he performed the song with John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin on bass. Several singles from the album would follow including, « Believe« , « Is There Any Love In Your Heart« , and « Heaven Help/Spinning Around Over You« .
This album was the first to feature guitarist Craig Ross, who has also played on all his subsequent albums. One song, « Eleutheria« , was influenced by the island Eleuthera in The Bahamas where Kravitz built a house and recording studio at that time. In 1993, he also released the EP, Spinning Around Over You, which included four live tracks from his « Universal Love Tour« .
Kravitz (along with Stevie Wonder) covered the Kiss song « Deuce » for a tribute album. He released the album Circus in 1995, which went to number 10 on the Billboard chart on the back of his past achievement. However, the album only had two hit singles: « Rock and Roll Is Dead » and « Can’t Get You Off My Mind« .
With 5 (1998), Kravitz embraced digital technology such as Pro Tools and samplers for the first time. 5 introduced his music to an even wider audience 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 #1 on multiple 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« , that was also remixed by dance producer Brian Transeau, and « I Belong to You« . In 1999 he produced and sang with Cree Summer on her solo album Street Faerie.
His cover version of The Guess Who’s hit « American Woman » won him another Grammy at the Grammy Awards of 2000 and helped The Guess Who’s song reach a new audience. Kravitz’s version of the song originally came from the soundtrack of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and was added to 5 as a bonus track in 1999.
Kravitz released a Greatest Hits album in 2000. It proved to be his most successful album, reaching #2 on the Billboard 200 and selling over 8 million copies worldwide. The single « Again » earned him his third consecutive Grammy for the Best Male Rock Vocal in the Grammy Awards of 2001. Kravitz also co-wrote the song « God Gave Me Everything » with Mick Jagger in this period, appearing on Jagger’s 2001 solo album Goddess in the Doorway.
Kravitz released his sixth album Lenny in October 2001. The album was recorded in Miami. Kravitz wrote the song « Bank Robber Man » after the Miami Police Department detained and cuffed him while walking to the gym with his trainer because police stated that he matched the description of a bank robber. Lenny did not have any identification with him at the time and the police on the scene did not believe that he was indeed Lenny Kravitz. The bank teller who was robbed was then brought to the scene and said Lenny was not the bank robber. Miami Police later sent officers to Lenny’s home to apologise for the detainment. When asked if he thought the incident was a case of racial profiling, Kravitz said he wasn’t sure. The first single from the album, « Dig In« , went to number 1 in Argentina and the top 10 in Italy and Portugal. The video for Dig In was originally supposed to be shot at the top of the Empire State Building on September 12th, 2001 but the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 caused the location to be moved. The video was later shot off the coast Miami. He won his fourth Grammy in 2002. « Stillness of Heart« , « Believe in Me« , and « If I Could Fall In Love » were subsequent singles from the album.
Jay-Z invited Kravitz to appear on the track « Guns and Roses » on his 2002 The Blueprint²: The Gift & the Curse. Kravitz would also join P. Diddy, Pharrell Williams and Loon on the track « Show Me Your Soul » from the Bad Boys II Soundtrack.
In September 2002, Kravitz appeared on an all-rock-star episode of The Simpsons.
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.
Kravitz’s seventh album Baptism was released in May 2004. The first single was « Where Are We Runnin’?« . The single « California » failed to be commercially successful, but « Storm« , featuring Jay-Z, reached the charts. « Calling All Angels » was successful in various countries and a huge hit in Brazil, however it was « Lady » that became the album’s surprise hit, making the US Top 30 and propelling « Baptism » to gold status.
Also in 2004, he appeared on N.E.R.D’s album Fly or Die. From March 2005, Kravitz toured all over the world with the tour Electric Church, which ended at the Brixton Academy, London in July 2005. Kravitz served as the opening act for Aerosmith who are long term friends of Kravitz on their fall 2005 tour. The tour began on October 30th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The night before that tour started, October 29, 2005, Lenny’s father TV Producer Sy Kravitz passed away. During that first show, Lenny broke the news to the stunned crowd and stated it was not a time to be sad but rather a time to celebrate because he is now in Heaven. Lenny then dedicated Let Love Rule to his father. That tour was so successful that it was extended through February 25, 2006 and ended in Anaheim, California.
In January 2006, Kravitz participated in absoluttracks, a project of Absolut Vodka. He was given total 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 another ten musical producers from the eight most important markets of the vodka brand, the tracks were only available via the internet on the sites www.absolutkravitz.com and www.absoluttracks.com, where there were also wallpapers and videos relating to the subject.
Kravitz appeared in the audience of Madonna’s Confessions Tour (2006) during numerous shows. He would later join Madonna live on stage to play guitar on the song, « I Love New York, » at the last of four Paris shows.
Lately, Kravitz has founded a design firm named Kravitz Design, stating if he hadn’t been a musician he would have been a designer. Kravitz Design, focused on interior and furniture design, has designed residential spaces, as well as a chandelier for the crystal company Swarovsky, named « Casino Royale. »
On July 7, 2007, Kravitz performed at the Brazilian leg of Live Earth in Rio de Janeiro. That gave him the distinction of being the only major international rockstar to perform two huge free concerts at the world-famous Copacabana Beach. Kravitz had already played there on March 21, 2005, drawing 300,000 people on a concert of his own. The Live Earth concert, with eight other acts on the bill, including Pharrell Williams and Macy Gray, took 400,000 to the beach.
Also in 2007, Kravitz released a version of « Cold Turkey » by John Lennon on Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, a charity CD. Kravitz has also been spending time recording his forthcoming album, It Is Time for a Love Revolution, to be released February 5, 2008.
Another album, Funk, will also be released in 2008. This is believed to be a project that Kravitz has been working on since 1997. Some of the original tracks for Funk were recorded while he was in New Orleans at Allen Toussaint’s studio while taking a break for several months from recording in New York City.
On September 25, 2007, the Fats Domino tribute album « Goin’ Home ; A Tribute To Fats Domino » was released. Lenny was on the song « Whole Lotta Lovin‘ » along with Rebirth Brass Band, Troy « Trombone Shorty » Andrews, Fred Wesley, Pee Wee Ellis and Maceo Parker.
Lenny will be playing at the Grey Cup Halftime show in Toronto on November 25, 2007.
The video for I’ll Be Waiting was shot in Central Park in New York City and will be released in the next month.
1989 Let Love Rule
1991 Mama Said
1993 Are You Gonna Go My Way
2000 Greatest Hits
2008 It Is Time for a Love Revolution (upcoming studio album)
2008 Funk (upcoming studio album)
1989 « Spirit of the Forest »
1989 « Let Love Rule »
1990 « I Built this Garden for Us »
1990 « Mr. Cab Driver »
1991 « Always on the Run »
1991 « It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over »
1991 « Fields of Joy »
1991 « Stand by My Woman »
1991 « What The Fuck Are We Saying? »
1991 « Stop Draggin’ Around »
1991 « What Goes Around Comes Around »
1993 « Are You Gonna Go My Way »
1993 « Believe »
1993 « Heaven Help »
1993 « Is There Any Love in Your Heart »
1993 « Heaven Help » / « Spinning Around Over You »
1995 « Rock and Roll Is Dead »
1995 « Circus »
1996 « Can’t Get You Off My Mind »
1996 « The Resurrection »
1998 « I Belong to You »
1998 « If You Can’t Say No »
1998 « Thinking of You »
1999 « Fly Away »
1999 « Black Velveteen »
1999 « American Woman »
2000 « Again »
2001 « Dig In »
2002 « Stillness of Heart »
2002 « Believe In Me »
2002 « If I Could Fall in Love »
2004 « Show Me Your Soul »
2004 « Where Are We Runnin’? »
2004 « California »
2004 « Storm » (featuring Jay-Z)
2005 « Calling All Angels »
2005 « Lady »
2005 « Breathe »
2007 « Bring It On »
2007 « I’ll Be Waiting »
MTV Video Music Awards
* 1993 – Best Male Video (« Are You Gonna Go My Way? »)
* 1994 – Best Male Artist
VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards
* 1998 – Most Fashionable Artist, Male Award
* 1998 – Best Male Rock Vocal Performance (« Fly Away »)
* 1999 – Best Male Rock Vocal Performance (« American Woman »)
* 2000 – Best Male Rock Vocal Performance (« Again »)
* 2001 – Best Male Rock Vocal Performance (« Dig In »)
Radio Music Awards
* 2001 – Artist of the Year/Pop Alternative Radio
My VH1 Awards
* 2001 – Favorite Male Artist
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards
* 2001 – Favorite Male Artist – Rock
American Music Awards
* 2002 – Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist
Microsoft Windows Media Innovation Awards
* 2002 – Microsoft Windows Media Innovation Award