This month Martin Cooper checks out the bluesy-rock and funky groove of multi-plat­inum­selling, Grammy-win­ning star, Lenny Kravitz.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Martin Cooper gets funky this month with blues-rock su­per­star Lenny Kravitz.

Born in New York in 1964 Lenny Kravitz’ ca­reer spans nearly 30 years. His mu­sic fea­tures a blend of rock, blues, rhythm and blues, funk and psy­che­delic traits, and his ap­peal strad­dles many dif­fer­ent gen­res and age ranges. Per­haps best known for the clas­sic track Are You Gonna Go My Way and the Num­ber 1 hit Fly Away, Lenny Kravitz has also writ­ten for artists such as Aero­smith and pro­duced mu­sic for the likes of Madonna.

Lenny be­gan play­ing drums and gui­tar as a boy and be­came a fan of mu­sic when he saw The Jack­son 5 per­form at Madi­son Square Gar­den at the age of 7. As a child he was also ex­posed to high-level jazz since his fa­ther was a pro­moter of jazz artists in­clud­ing Ella Fitzger­ald. While at school his lis­ten­ing be­gan to in­clude The Rolling Stones, Led Zep­pelin, Kiss and Pink Floyd; one of his class­mates was Slash, who went on to per­form on Lenny’s Mama Said al­bum.

One of the draw­backs to such a wide lis­ten­ing base was that Kravitz was told his mu­sic was nei­ther black enough nor white enough, so he de­cided to be­gin record­ing him­self; one of his early record­ings in­cluded Let Love Rule, now one of his sig­na­ture songs. Af­ter the al­bum of the same name was re­leased he toured as opener for Tom Petty & The Heart­break­ers and Bob Dy­lan.

Suc­cess re­ally be­gan to ar­rive af­ter the re­lease of Mama Said, and a suc­ces­sion of global hits and sold-out tours fol­lowed. He writes, pro­duces and per­forms the ma­jor­ity of his al­bums by him­self. He has play­ing huge gigs, in­clud­ing join­ing Katy Perry for the 2015 Su­per Bowl show in Ari­zona. He has also carved out a suc­cess­ful act­ing ca­reer, in­clud­ing a role in The Hunger Games films.

The track this month is writ­ten in the key of E mi­nor (E-F#-G-A-B-C-D) but also

(Bb) in­cludes a bluesy flat 5 and an E Do­rian mode note (C#) in the rhythm gui­tar parts. These notes are typ­i­cal of this type of clas­sic rock that also fea­tures a funk edge. The lead part uses the E Mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic scale (E-G-A-B-D), and both the back­ing and solo parts fea­ture a lot of syn­co­pated, off-beat phrases and a lot of space. You’ll need to watch your tim­ing this month more than most, as Lenny is a mas­ter of groove, so check out the play­ing tips for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion. NEXT MONTH Martin ex­am­ines the Latin-based blues-rock style of the great Car­los San­tana


Lenny Kravitz: multi-tal­ented mu­si­cian and song­writer

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