Born: May 26, 1964
Place of Birth: New York, NY
Zodiac Sign: Gemini
Career and Life
Leonard Albert Kravitz, professionally known as, Lenny Kravitz, is a singer, songwriter, actor, and record producer.
Kravitz was born in Manhattan, New York, the only child of actress Roxie Roker and NBC television news producer Sy Kravitz. His father was of Ukrainian Jewish descent (Lenny's great-grandfather was from Kiev, Ukraine; see the Kravits surname). His mother was of Bahamian and African-American descent, and was from a Christian family. Through his mother, Kravitz is second cousins with television weather presenter Al Roker as their grandfathers were brothers. During his early years, Kravitz did not grow up in a religious environment. After a spiritual experience when he was 13, he started attending church, becoming a non-denominational Christian.
Sy Kravitz was a Green Beret. His brother, Leonard M. Kravitz, followed in his footsteps to the military, becoming a Private First Class. Lenny Kravitz would be named after this uncle, who was killed in action in the Korean War at the age of 19, while defending against a Chinese attack and saving most of his platoon; he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross but was denied the Medal of Honor. In 2014, he posthumously received the Medal of Honor in a ceremony that awarded it to 23 other servicemen who were passed over because of their ethnicity. Kravitz grew up spending weekdays on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, with his parents, attending P.S. 6 for elementary school, and weekends at his grandmother Bessie Roker's house in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Kravitz began banging on pots and pans in the kitchen, playing them as drums at the age of three. At the age of five, he wanted to be a musician. He began playing the drums and soon added guitar. Kravitz grew up listening to the music his parents listened to: R&B, jazz, classical, opera, gospel, and blues. "My parents were very supportive of the fact that I loved music early on, and they took me to a lot of shows," Kravitz said. Around the age of seven, he saw The Jacksons perform at Madison Square Garden, which became his favorite group. His father, who was also a jazz promoter, was friends with Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Short, Miles Davis and other jazz greats. Ellington even played "Happy Birthday" for him one year when he was about 5. He was exposed to the soul music of Motown, Stax, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Gladys Knight, The Isley Brothers, and Gamble and Huff growing up who were key influences on his musical style. Kravitz often went to see New York theater, where his mother worked. His mother encouraged his dreams of pursuing music.
In 1974, the Kravitz family relocated to Los Angeles when Kravitz's mother landed her role on The Jeffersons. At his mother's urging, Kravitz joined the California Boys Choir for three years, where he performed a classical repertoire, and sang with the Metropolitan Opera. He took part in Mahler's Third Symphony at the Hollywood Bowl. It was in Los Angeles that Kravitz was first introduced to rock music, listening to The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Grateful Dead, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Creedence Clearwater Revival, KISS, Pink Floyd, and The Who. "I was attracted to the cool style, the girls, the rock 'n' roll lifestyle," Kravitz said. Kravitz's other musical influences at the time included Fela Kuti, Bill Withers, Marvin Gaye, Pharoah Sanders and Miles Davis; John Lennon and Bob Marley proved later to be influential as well. Kravitz attended Beverly Hills High School. Maria McKee, actor Nicolas Cage and musician Slash were his classmates. In 1978, Kravitz was accepted into the school's well-respected music program. He taught himself to play piano and bass, and made friends with Zoro who would later become his long-time collaborator. Kravitz wanted to be a session musician. He also appeared as an actor in television commercials during this time.
In 1985, Kravitz's parents divorced, which had a profound impact on him. His relationship with his father became extremely strained. Kravitz focused on his music to help him get through this period. That year, Kravitz met actress Lisa Bonet backstage at a New Edition concert. Bonet worked on The Cosby Show, the number one rated show on television. They were close friends for two years before falling in love. Like Kravitz, Bonet is half Black and half Russian Jewish. Kravitz moved back to New York City where The Cosby Show was produced in 1987, moving in with Bonet.
Kravitz and Bonet eloped to be married on November 16, 1987, her 20th birthday, in a Las Vegas ceremony. Kravitz, still known as Romeo Blue at the time, suddenly found himself in the headlines of tabloid newspapers. They had a daughter, Zoë Isabella Kravitz, born on December 1, 1988, who became an actress, singer, and model. Kravitz and Bonet divorced amicably in 1993. He then dated French singer Vanessa Paradis until 1997. In 2001, he began dating Brazilian model Adriana Lima. In 2002, the couple were engaged, but less than a year later, the engagement was called off. He briefly dated and was engaged to Australian actress Nicole Kidman in 2003–2004.
His "retro" style incorporates elements of rock, blues, soul, R&B, funk, jazz, reggae, hard rock, psychedelic, pop, folk, and ballads. In addition to singing lead and backing vocals, Kravitz often plays all of the instruments himself when recording.
He won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance four years in a row from 1999 to 2002, breaking the record for most wins in that category as well as setting the record for most consecutive wins in one category by a male. He has been nominated for and won other awards, including American Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, Radio Music Awards, Brit Awards, and Blockbuster Entertainment Awards. He was also ranked number 93 on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. On December 1, 2011, Kravitz was made an Officer of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He played Cinna in the Hunger Games film series.
Kravitz Design Inc. is a New York City-based company founded by Kravitz in 2003. Kravitz Design focuses on commercial, residential and product creative direction and design. Among its clients are the Morgans Hotel Group, Swarovski Crystal, and The Setai Group. In 2010, Kravitz Design Inc. collaborated with Flavor Paper wallpaper on the Tropicalismo Collection, a line inspired by Brazil's Tropicalia art movement of the late 1960s.
Swarovski selected Kravitz Design Inc. in 2005 and 2006 to participate in their Crystal Palace Collection. Kravitz Design Inc. has also envisioned a luxury recording studio for The Setai Resort and Residences in Miami Beach, New York, Paris and New Orleans.