Talented rock singer/songwriter Lenny Kravitz (1964-) is the son of a Jewish TV news producer (Sy Kravitz) and black actress (Roxie Roker, Helen on The Jeffersons).
Born on this day in Brooklyn, he was raised with music (jazz legend Duke Ellington was a family friend) and learned the guitar by age eight. Inspired by the Jackson Five, Kravitz said, "Michael Jackson is a genius... He had the intensity of James Brown and Aretha Franklin at that early age."
Kravitz released his first album, Let Love Rule, in 1989, writing all the music and playing nearly every instrument. "I really enjoy playing those instruments," he explained. "They give me a lot of pleasure, so I do it. At some point that might change and I might want to invite more people in. Up until this point, I really enjoy doing the majority of it myself."
The retro-rocker and Grammy-winner credits God for keeping him drug-free and continues to experiment with music styles. He has collaborated with Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Mick Jagger, Madonna, and others.
"When I stopped trying to write songs, that's when I'm able to begin writing songs. You have to just use your life, and the things around you for your inspiration," he said and wrote the lyrics for Are You Gonna Go My Way on a brown paper bag during a studio jam.
After a two-year hiatus, his seventh album, Baptism (2004), with cover art bleeding red paint over guitar and Kravitz, passionately celebrated rock and roll with boldness, originality, and funk.
"I'm a simple writer," Kravitz said. "People either love my lyrics, they hate them, whatever they want. The best writers were simple. Bob Marley was one of the most prophetic people around; he was very simple."
Keep your love alive.