Happy Birthday, Lenny Kravitz!
After Jimi Hendrix's passing, the African-American community was left with a drought when it came to true rock stars. Lenny Kravitz, born Leonard Albert "Lenny" Kravitz, was one of the few who rose up to fill that void. The multi-instrumentalist turns 51 years old today (May 26).
You can easily trace Kravitz's eclectic material back to his upbringing. He grew up exposed to everything from the likes of James Brown and Stevie Wonder to Black Sabbath and the Who. His desire to incorporate those influences into his music became a disadvantage at first. In their perpetual desire to easily categorize and sell art, labels dismissed Kravitz as being not "black" or "white" enough. Kravitz clicked with A Different World's music supervisor Stephen Elvis Smith to manage his career, and soon he had a contract with Virgin Records. However, his 1989 debut LP, Let Love Rule, wasn't cohesive but rather a hodgepodge of his influences -- ambitious but unfocused.
Better things were ahead, though. Kravitz produced Madonna's 1990 hit "Justify My Love," which became another No. 1 hit for the icon. Mama Said, released in 1991, catapulted Kravitz to mainstream success, selling three million copies. The success streamed in throughout the '90s: the adrenaline-pumping "Are You Gonna Go My Way," the gold-certified Circus and the double-platinum 5. Kravitz has used his eclecticism to become a star.
The singer has taken a backseat these days. Although he released the slept-on Strut last year, his daughter Zoe Kravitz (her mother is Lisa Bonet, who he divorced in 1993) is taking the spotlight by starring in blockbuster franchises like X-Men and The Divergent Series. Lenny Kravitz is holding it down with an acting role in the high-grossing The Hunger Games series, but people still realize his legacy lies in music.
Watch Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way" Video
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