American singer, songwriter, record producer and guitarist, whose retro-style blend of rock, pop, funk and techno is inspired by such music icons as John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix, Lenny Kravitz has established a reputation for himself as a rock star with four Grammy Awards in his pocket. First taking home a Grammy Award in 1999 for the mega hit “Fly Away” (spawned from his double platinum album 5), African-American and Russian descendant Kravitz nabbed a second Grammy Award in the same year with his remake of the Guess Who's “American Woman” (which was used in the hit 1999 comedy movie Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me). Launching his 15-track Greatest Hits in 2000, Kravitz again attracted public attention for his bravura track titled “Again.” Not only becoming the chart-topping single on the world adult composite charts, the song also handed him a 2001 Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. In 2002, Kravitz added a fourth Grammy Award to his impressive resume with “Dig In,” a lead single produced from 2001’s Lenny.
In the early 1990s, Kravitz received recognition for his outstanding work in Are You Gonna Go My Way (1993), in which he was garnered a MTV Video Award as well as a Brit Award.
Off screen, Kravitz, together with a number of high profile artists like pop superstar Mariah Carey, rappers Snoop Dogg and Jay Z, James Brown, rappers Wyclef Jean, Laryn Hill and Missy Elliott; and R&B crooner Ciara, among others, joined Michael Jackson to perform a charity single titled “From the Bottom of My Heart” for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. In 2005, he also gave a $5,000 electric guitar to Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to help him raise funds for his struggling campaign to fight hunger in the South American country. As for his private life, Touch magazine’s “Hollywood's Biggest Heartbreaker” (2004), Kravitz has been linked to several high-profile women in his life. He was once married to actress Lisa Bonet, but they divorced in 1993. In the 1990s, Kravitz dated French actress, singer and model Vanessa Paradis and later became engaged to Brazil-born model Adriana Lima in May 2002. A year later, he was involved with Nicole Kidman after the two made their first public appearance at magician David Copperfield's 47th birthday party in New York. Kravitz also romanced Australian actress/singer Natalie Imbruglia and Kylie Minogue. Recently, Kravitz, who is a vegetarian, is rumored to be having a relationship with equally talented musician and fellow Grammy winner Alicia Keys. They were seen together laughing, talking and feeding each other at New York's Mr. Chow. A member of the Keys family strongly denies the rumor, stating Kravitz is merely a friend.
Childhood and Family:
Named after his uncle, Leonard Kravitz, who was killed in action in Korea, Leonard Albert Kravitz was born on May 26, 1964, in New York, New York. He is the only son of TV producer Sy Kravitz and Bahamian Hollywood actress Roxie Roker. His mother was best-known for portraying series’ regular Helen Willis in the hit show The Jeffersons. Kravitz’s parents divorced in 1985 and his mom passed away ten years later after suffering from breast cancer.
As a child, Kravitz showed an interest in music by hitting his mother’s pots and pans as if they were drums. By the age 10, he had seen performances by jazz greats Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, Bobby Short and Miles Davis. In the same year, he relocated with his family to Los Angeles. Having trained himself in to play such instruments as piano, guitar, drums and bass, Kravitz began his singing career in the prestigious California Boys Choir and the Metropolitan Opera. While a music student at the Beverly Hills High School, Kravitz decided to pursue rock & roll and was heavy influenced by Prince. He used the stage name “Romeo Blue” and began displaying somewhat eccentric behavior. In the late 1980s, he headed to New York to work on his musical career.
In Las Vegas, Lenny Kravitz tied the knot with The Cosby Show star Lisa Bonet (born on November 16, 1967) on November 16, 1987, after living together for one year. On December 1, 1988, the couple welcomed their first child, a baby daughter named Zoe Isabella Kravitz. In 1991, however, they became estranged after Kravitz was rumored to have had affair with Madonna. Their divorce was finalized on April 13, 1993.
Showcasing musical talent from an early age, Lenny Kravitz developed his singing voice with the California Boys Choir and the Metropolitan Opera and was trained in music in high school. Initially choosing the rock & roll genre, Kravitz’s music was strongly inspired by funk rocker Prince and he performed under the artist name “Romeo Blue.” After failing to land a recording contract, Kravitz decided to move to New York to pursue his career. It was there that he began to broaden his influences beyond Prince, and paid attention to classic rock and soul artists like Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, Curtis Mayfield, the Beatles and Bob Marley. After shopping around for a record deal, Kravitz eventually inked a contract with Virginia Record.
In 1989, working with recording engineer Henry Hirsch, Kravitz launched his debut album titled Let Love Rule. Even though critics were not impressed, music listeners welcomed the new release. The title song of the album became a hit track, reaching No. 5 on the modern rock charts and No. 89 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album itself was a moderate success and peaked at No. 61 on the Billboard album charts. Kravitz gained more noticed in 1990 when he penned a song for Madonna titled “Justify My Love” for her Immaculate Collection album. The track topped the rating charts and became a major hit.
A split with his wife in the early 1990s greatly influenced Kravitzs’ music. That was seen in his sophomore effort, Mama Said, which was released in 1991. Spawning such hit tracks as “Always on the Run” (collaboration with Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash) and the Curtis Mayfield-esque soul ballad “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over,” the album quickly became a platinum-selling hit.
However, it was his third studio album, Are You Gonna Go My Way, which delivered Kravitz’s first breakthrough. Hitting the music shelves in 1993, the album received rave reviews from critics and received huge success. The title track even handed him a MTV Video Award for Best Male Video. In the following year, he took home a Brit for Best International Male Artist. As a result, Kravitz became the subject of countless interviewers and numerous magazine covers. Two years later, Kravitz released his fourth album, Circus. Unfortunately, the album did not receive the same success as its predecessor.
Learning from the failure, Kravitz began experimenting with electronics and trip-hop loops for his next album, 1998's 5. The result was amazing and his music was well-received in even wider music circles, especially in Europe. Its first track, “Fly Away,” was featured in both car manufacturer and airline commercials. While the album peaked at No. 28 on the Billboard 200, the song scorched through the charts, landing at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 10. In 1999, “Fly Away” topped the modern and mainstream charts. Also in 1999, Kravitz nabbed a first Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for his brilliant work on the song. The same year, he received another Grammy for his cover version of 70s rockers The Guess Who's hit “American Woman.” The single 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. Other hits include “If You Can’t Say No” and “I Belong To You.” 5 finally received triple platinum certification.
Entering the new millennium, the rock star launched his Greatest Hits compilation which contained 15 tracks. Considered his most victorious album, it skyrocketed to No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and Canadian album charts. The lead song, ”Again,” burned up the charts, landing on number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on a world adult composite chart (based on the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France and Australia) and US adult chart. Moreover, the track garnered him a 2001 Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.
Kravitz scored his next triumph in 2001 with the release of his sixth album titled Lenny. He again picked up a fourth Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal due to his brilliant work on the lead single, “Dig In.” As the album peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard 200 and No. 9 on the Canadian charts, “Dig In” reached No. 31 on the Billboard 100 and began climbing the top ten in the world adult and US adult charts. Lenny also had such singles as “Stillness of Heart,” ”Believe in Me” and “If I Could Fall In Love.”
The following years saw Kravitz team up with several artist including Jay-Z, who invited him to appear on the track “Guns and Roses” on his 2002 Blueprint 2: the Gift and the Curse. He also worked with P. Diddy, Pharrell Williams and Loon for “Show Me Your Soul” from the Bad Boys 2 soundtrack. In 2003, he joined superstar Michael Jackson on a single titled “Another Day.” The song was supposed to appear on Jackson’s long-awaited new album. Unfortunately, the album, set for release in late 2003, was cancelled.
“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.” Lenny Kravitz
“I’ve made my first record all over again. That’s how it feels, as pure as the beginning.” Lenny Kravitz on Baptism
Kravitz was back in his recording studio in 2004 and launched his seventh album, Baptism, in May. It premiered at No. 14 on the US album charts, in the top 75 of the UK album charts and in the top 50 of the Australian album charts. It produced tracks like “Where Are We Running,” “California,” “Storm” and “Lady.” The latter became the album’s surprise hit, reaching the US Top 30 and boosting Baptism to earn gold certification. From March-July, Kravitz embarked on his world tour with the Electric Church.
- Grammy: Best Male Rock Vocal, "Dig In," 2002
- Grammy: Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, “Again,” 2001
- Grammy: Male Rock Vocal Performance, "American Woman," 1999
- Grammy: Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, “Fly Away,” 1999
- Brit Award: Best International Male Artist, 1994
- MTV Video: Best Male Video, “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” 1993