Lenny Kravitz looks back to when he found his voice
NEW YORK (AP) — Lenny Kravitz is a man of extremes — as he readily admits.
“I am deeply two-sided: black and white, Jewish and Christian, Manhattan and Brooklynite,” he writes about his first 25 years alive in his new memoir “Let Love Rule,” released last week and named after his 1989 debut album.
“The book is about me finding my voice and finding my path and walking into my destiny, whatever that is,” he tells The Associated Press.
The 270-page book written along with David Ritz explores his very special childhood and ends with Kravitz on the verge of stardom and deeply in love with actress Lisa Bonet.
“I had such a childhood and experience growing up. That’s what I want to spend my time on,” he says. “So let’s stop there. And then we’ll see if they’ll be a second book in the future.”
He’s not exaggerating about that childhood. He alternated between the then-tough Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant and in a swanky building with carved cherubs on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He ate chopped liver on matzo as well as fried fish coated with cornmeal.
The extremes continued during his life. For his sixth birthday, he was serenaded by Duke Ellington and his band at the famed Rainbow Room. Years later, his home was a Ford Pinto, which he rented for $4.99 a day.
“The extremes really work for me. I felt them. I’m comfortable living in a car or a box or a tent or a trailer, and I’m comfortable living in a mansion,” he says. “The middle — obviously, that’s fine, too. But what I’m saying is I don’t feel it the same way. It doesn’t feed me the same way. I like balancing extremes.”
Kravitz, 56, dedicated the book to his mother, actress Roxie Roker, who was best known for her role in “The Jeffersons” as Helen Willis, half of one of TV’s first interracial couples. TV producer Sy Kravitz, his father and a former military man, was strict with the younger Kravitz.
Dad and son would frequently clash, culminating in a blowout that would change both their lives. The younger Kravitz says writing about his father was healing.
“Any judgment that I had began to dissolve as I was looking at him with these fresh eyes and open heart,” he says. “Any of those harsh feelings that I had went away and I began to actually love my father in a different way that I didn’t get to love him when he was alive.”
Kravitz has the look and sound of a rock god, with a stripped-down style of straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll that earned him Grammy Awards four years in a row, from 1999 to 2002.
But he’s not afraid to show a sillier side in the book, like the first — and last — time he got drunk, which was with a bottle of Manischewitz, or getting busted once for shoplifting five KISS cassettes. There’s even an insane sequence in which a young Kravitz saves a teenage prostitute from a pimp and stashes her in his bedroom.
Ritz, the co-writer, complimented Kravitz for being so hands-on throughout the years it took to finish the book. He says his co-writer was open and ready to explore anything.
“He’s got a lot of courage. The thing about Lenny, artistically and personally, he’s just a man of great courage,” Ritz says. Writing it together was “like being in a studio where you’re jamming.”
Kravitz’s musical influences emerge as Prince, Michael Jackson, Earth Wind & Fire and David Bowie, who inspired Kravitz to get color-changing contact lenses. The book also explores Kravitz’s spirituality and his experience of being born again.