This month Martin Cooper checks out the bluesy-rock and funky groove of multi-platinumselling, Grammy-winning star, Lenny Kravitz.
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
A MULTI-PLATINUM, GRAMMY-WINNING ARTIST LENNY KRAVTIZ WRITES, PRODUCES AND PERFORMS THE MAJORITY OF HIS ALBUMS BY HIMSELF
Lenny Kravitz: multi-talented musician and songwriter