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Lenny Kravitz “Let Love Rule”

Nov 10, 2020

By Adam Pollock

Interview by Adam Pollock

Lenny Kravitz, the Grammy-winning rock icon with international renown as a multi-hyphenate musician, songwriter, record producer, photographer, activist, designer, actor, and philanthropist has released his new book “Let Love Rule: A Memoir”

Said Lenny Kravitz, “I am pleased to announce the release of my book ‘Let Love Rule.’ Writing this memoir has been a beautiful and interesting experience taking me through the first 25 years of my life, from birth to the release of my first album. That journey, full of adventure, was where I found myself and my voice. Through that experience, love was the force that paved the way and love became my message.” 

Read the interview between writer Adam Pollock and Lenny Kravitz:

Lenny Kravitz has led a charmed life. Thanks, of course, in no small part to his prodigious talent for all things musical, and his personal mantra of love overall, but also to his upbringing at the hands of his creative, encouraging, and connected family. Kravitz burst on to the scene in 1989 at 25 with his debut album Let Love Rule, a retro sounding rock funk soul opus that brought some welcome musical umph to the then current pop scene dominated by Backstreet Boys, Paula Abdul, and Richard Marx – grunge’s guitars we still a year or two from mainstream acceptance. It was all uphill from there. 

Lenny ruled the 90’s and early 2000’s, releasing a consistent flow of hit singles and albums, working with tout la beau monde, from Mick Jagger, to Madonna (he co-wrote the steamy “Justify My Love”), Aerosmith, David Bowie, and many others, and winning a Best Male Vocal Grammy for four years in a row. His cameo in 2001’s male model send up Zoolander had him on stage in front of an audience that included Donald Trump, flanked by models of the other gender; how we wish DT could only have stayed in that world.

Not content to just play and record music, he’s also a producer (Vanessa Paradis, among others), photographer, activist, designer, and now writer, as his memoir “Let Love Rule” hit stores in October.  Unlike a typical famous rocker biog, however, Lenny’s doesn’t focus on the just the wild and crazy bits (there are plenty of those around), rather on the artists’ formative years leading up to his debut, hence the title. Kravitz is obviously well aware that his childhood, upbringing, and early, yet decisive, steps as a musician helped shape everything that was to come in his life and career, and thus he gives us a detailed look at his first 25 years on the planet. We sat down, virtually, with the charming rocker to talk about it. 

AP: How are you doing? 

LK: I’m good, good. I’m in the Bahamas.

AP: Are you by yourself in the Bahamas or do you have people around? 

LK: We’re here with a very small group of people that I work around, working in the studio, it’s been seven and a half months of solitude. It’s been wonderful.

AP: When you think about doing an interview with a musician these days all the normal questions go out the window. ‘When are you touring next?’

LK: Yeah. That’s not happening in the near future. So right now, it’s about creativity and it’s about making new music, doing art in different mediums, and just staying busy.

AP: Cool. Obviously, the occasion for this is to talk about your book, which is awesome. Congratulations.

LK: Thank you.

AP: Unlike a typical rock and roll, all this crazy stuff happening, biography, yours is about your early days. How did that idea come to you initially? 

LK: It unfolded by itself. That’s the why I let my creativity work. It had to find itself. I had to find my voice. It took me a minute to figure out how I was going to write this, what it was going to be about, when the story was going to stop, and I just knew it as I was doing it. This wasn’t another story about fame or rock stardom or any of that. It’s about finding one’s path, one’s voice, one’s destiny. The first chapter came to me after some time of trying to put this thing together, and I just felt like it wasn’t speaking in my voice the way I wanted it to. I just got this vision of the opening of the book, which is about this dream I had as a kid, which was quite a dramatic dream for a child, and that was the place to begin, because that was where the first question was planted in me of life and death. And so, once I wrote that first chapter, it just kind of came out, and I was like, okay. This is where it begins, this is the voice, and then I just followed along, and I recalled all the adventures I’d gone through in finding myself. 

AP: I’ve always thought about it with myself wondering how hard it would be to remember all of that stuff of when you were that age. Did it just come to you? Did you have to really wrack your brain about some things? 

LK: I have an uncanny memory when it comes to stuff in my childhood. I can remember friends addresses and phone numbers from when I was in first grade. Like, really. I remember all the phone numbers of my relatives…but don’t ask me, you know, where I put the key yesterday, you know? But for some reason, I could recall all the stuff when I was a kid.

AP: That’s cool. I did get the impression that you actually were writing it. You actually were typing.

LK: I did. I had to. That was the only way it was going to work. And David Ritz (editor) is brilliant, and he guided me and taught me so much, but that was the whole thing. I had to begin writing. I had to really get in it if it was going to be me.

LK: Because some people don’t do that. Some people just do all the interviewing and putting together the materials and somebody writes it, and that’s fine too, but for me, just like my music or any art that I do, photography, whatever it may be, design, I have to be completely hands-on.

LK: I got the most amazing therapy out of writing this book, and healing from writing this book. I’ve got to tell you. And that was not something that I saw coming.

AP: And when was all this happening? I’m guessing last year sometime.

LK: Over the last three years…or so. But there were times where I’d stopped. Six months, I’d do nothing. I was on tour, I was – I had to do other things, so there was no time where it just kept going. I had to start and stop a lot.

AP: Over the years, have you been fans of other people’s biographies or autobiographies?

LK: Oh, yeah. I grew up – Miles Davis is one of my favorites when I was growing up. In high school, David Bowie. Marvin Gaye that David (Ritz) did, Divided Soul. Ray Charles.

AP: They’re great to read.

LK: It’s always interesting to read people’s stories and see where they came from and what their journey was.

AP: Yeah, sometimes more interesting than the actual art, honestly. 

LK: Yeah.

AP: You and I are kind of the same age, and I really related to a couple of points in there. As you were growing up listening first to KISS, and then having your revelation with Led Zeppelin. You’ve always been a standard bearer for rock and soul and blues, even in times when there were other types of music that were maybe more popular. How are you feeling about the state of rock and roll currently? 

LK: You know, you look on Instagram or YouTube and you see so many kids now playing, and really looking back at the greats and wanting to play instruments. Not just wanting to rely on technology and samples, which is all fine too, but I’m so glad that these kids are into this, because they’re all about the craft. I think the future looks bright when it comes to that. There were so many years where kids, they weren’t playing so much. 

AP: I’ve seen this hinted in other interviews with you, but obviously, when you refer to a book as the first 25 years, that assumes there’s going to be a follow-up at some point, right? Is there a rock star years book coming? 

LK: I haven’t planned on it yet, but you know, it’s me that’s – it could happen and probably will happen. I need a minute though. I need to live some more life, but it seems inevitable that that would happen.

AP: I went back and listened to your last record Raise Vibration, which was a couple of years ago now. I hadn’t listened to it much when it came out, but it sounded lovely. The songs were great.

LK: Oh, I love – that last record, I love. I really felt that record a lot.

AP: Just the sound of it, and you know, obviously, you have a sound, and as with some other key artists, you kind of rely on them to bring you back to that sound in many ways. I found that with you and this record. Like, oh yeah, it was familiar in a way, even though we’ve been listening to Lenny Kravitz records for 30 plus years now.

LK: The thread is me, and I’m on all through all of those albums, hands on. So, there’s always going to be a thread. But I have many different styles and colors that I play with. But…I do what I do. I don’t know. 

AP: I think I kind of agree with the Pete Townshend line that it’s the singer, not the song, in the fact that the talent, to put the music out there, is as, if not more, important than the music that’s actually coming. Like, I could sing a Lenny Kravitz song and it would sound terrible. You sing it and it sounds fantastic.

LK: I think you need a good song, yeah. You need a good song. It comes down to who’s interpreting that song, you know? And whether people write or not. There are great singers that don’t write, but they are great genius interpreters…whether that be a Diana Ross or a Frank Sinatra or a whomever. The voice, man. The voice and the interpretation.

AP: Can we just touch on your design work? 

LK: Did you see the piano that just came out? 

AP: The piano? 

LK: I just did – I designed a piano for Steinway. Check that out.

AP: I will check that out. I haven’t seen it.

LK: It just came out, yeah. You’ll see it. It’s called the Kravitz Grand. 

AP: That’s awesome. And is the business continuing as before?

LK: Oh, yeah. We’re doing several projects with businesses right now, a hotel in Detroit, products for different companies, yeah. Even during this time, we’re busy. So, thank god.

AP: That’s awesome. Well, thank you for taking the time, Lenny. I appreciate it.

Click here to buy Let Love Rule which is available on Macmillan Press for $29.99

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