The Untold Truth Of Lenny Kravitz

Musician Lenny Kravitz is known for producing several hit albums such as Are You Gonna Go My Way, and Mama Said. According to Biography, his first album, Let Love Rule, was released in 1989. In a few short years, he managed to make a name for himself and won his first Grammy for Five in 1998.  

In 2018, he told The Guardian that he had trouble selecting the best tracks when looking for his most defining songs. "I'm not good at favorites," he said. "They all have an origin. And sometimes you look back and think: 'Ugh, I was pretty goofy there.'" 

The musician has had a long, rewarding career and is a non-conformist in many ways. Here is an example: when he was referring to the negative reviews he received, he simply asked, "What's wrong with people?" before adding that they often say bad things and that's alright. 

Kravitz's life is interesting, and there are stories that still remain relatively unknown. Let's take a look at some of the most fascinating aspects of his life.

Lenny Kravitz was the only child of actress Roxie Roker

Lenny Kravitz was born as Leonard Albert Kravitz on May 26, 1964, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to an interracial couple, according to Biography. While his father was Jewish, his mom, Roxie Roker, was an African-American actress. Kravitz had to endure racial remarks in the 1960s on account of his background. He was definitely from a privileged background. His dad worked as a television producer, and his mom was well-known for being a part of the show, The Jeffersons. 

Their family ended up in Hollywood because of Roker's acting commitments. There, Kravitz discovered his passion for music. "I am deeply two-sided: black and white, Jewish and Christian, Manhattan and Brooklynite," Kravitz wrote, commenting on his roots, in his memoir, Let Love Rule, which was released in 2020 (via the Associated Press). 

His childhood was essentially made up of extremes. The Associated Press describes, the singer would spend time in a relatively rough Brooklyn neighborhood and also at a fancy apartment building in Manhattan. He tried everything: from fancy meals to staple food like fried fish with cornmeal. 

"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," Kravitz commented. He said he could even be more middle ground but is most comfortable juggling extreme scenarios.

Lenny Kravitz's aptitude for music was visible in high school

Even as a child, Lenny Kravitz was intrigued by music and was a part of the California Boys Choir (via Biography). He could play many musical instruments well and had a natural aptitude for music. The Guardian explains, Kravitz was exploring his love for music even when he was a toddler, playing with utensils in the kitchen. He eventually took to playing the guitar, drums, and the piano.

Kravitz's high school in the 90210 zip code was the school that later led to the show, Beverly Hills 90210. Kravitz had famous classmates, including Slash from Guns 'N Roses and actor Nicholas Cage (via 96FM). His aptitude for music even earned him a spot in the music program at Beverly Hills High School, according to Biography. Kravitz was, undeniably, destined to be a musician.

Lenny Kravitz wanted to succeed on his own

Despite his parents' connections in the entertainment industry, Lenny Kravitz was determined to succeed on his own. According to Biography, Kravitz moved out of his parent's home after graduating from high school in 1982. He was comfortable with the idea of hustling to make it big in the music industry and roughed it out after leaving home. He stayed in a rented car in the beginning, paying a rental fee $5 every day.

When deciding to leave his parents' home, Kravitz said, "It wasn't that they didn't want me there. It was that I just decided that I needed to go out and do my thing. I didn't want to live under the rules that took place under that roof. Basically I lived in friends' houses, recording studios, cars" (via Rolling Stone).

Kravitz also revealed that he'd often sleep in front of his girlfriend's home. One day, the couple had a fight, and Kravitz slammed his car shut, which led to a broken window. "So then I was sleeping outside in the car with no window, and that wasn't so good because it was too hard to fall into a deep sleep because you were right there, exposed," Kravitz said.

At the same time, Kravitz was holding odd jobs, such as working in a fish market and a shoe shop, to make money.

Lenny Kravitz's parents separated in 1985

Lenny Kravitz's parents decided to get a divorce after the singer left home. During that time, he was still struggling to get a break in the music industry. News of his parents' separation left him feeling gutted, Biography explains. 

Kravitz grew up with parents who were very different from each other, according to Amo Mama. He once said that he shared a different relationship with his mom and dad. For Kravitz, his mom was loving and kind. "She wasn't someone who would gossip about people," the singer said. "And she was a very good gauge of character."

As for his father, Kravitz believed that he was someone who believed in tough love and tried to discipline his son. That said, his father did love him, but Kravitz couldn't help but be scared of him when he was little. 

When it came to Kravitz's parents' relationship, things had been sour for a long time. For example, his dad had been cheating on his mom from the time Kravitz was a kid. He was frustrated about the fact that his wife and son were able to achieve things he didn't. "I could understand what it was with other women because he felt he needed to be the man," Kravitz explained. "Although he already was the man, and my mother treated him as the man. But in a superficial world, she was the star, and he was not."

Lenny Kravitz struggled while following his heart

In 1987, Lenny Kravitz decided to elope with actor Lisa Bonet whom he loved and wanted to be with. The duo had their daughter, Zoë Kravitz, a year after they moved. They were roughing it out in a loft in New York. "It was still grungy there," Kravitz told The Guardian. "Artists were squatting; people were held up [at] knifepoint." Their bohemian life inspired Kravitz's debut album that featured hippy music.  

Things were hard. Without a label, Kravitz had to innovate and work with what he had. For example, he turned to a cheap studio to record his music. As for how he was inspired to come up with Let Love Rule, Kravitz said that it came to him out of the blue. "It was just something I thought," he said. He wrote the words, "Let Love Rule" on a wall and decided to work on it with a guitar after passing the wall every day.

Despite finishing his album, Kravitz found himself fighting to lock down a deal. Labels couldn't quite understand him, he explained. Luckily, he ended up meeting with someone at Virgin Records who loved his music and gave him an offer. At the same time, other labels offered to sign him once they realized Virgin was trying to get him, but he stayed with the record label. Kravitz said he knew he'd get a chance to evolve and develop with Virgin, something that was very important to him.

Lenny Kravitz got noticed after he worked with popular musicians

While his first album didn't get bad reviews, Lenny Kravitz still needed something bigger that would help him make a mark on the industry. The one thing that really helped him was a collaboration with pop singer Madonna. Plus, he also worked as a supporting act for other notable artists like Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and David Bowie. The Guardian illustrates, the singer was thrilled to open for David Bowie at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. It was his birthday. "I was green," Kravitz said in the interview, smiling. 

He also confessed that when Dylan invited him to play a song, he was scared. "I didn't know the words," Kravitz said. In 1990, he worked with Madonna on the song, "Justify My Love." While Madonna was believed to be taking a risk by releasing the track as the first single from her album, The Immaculate Collection, the gamble ended up paying off and the song was a big hit (via Cheatsheet). The song is now considered to be one of Kravitz's greatest.

Lenny Kravitz's divorce shattered him

When Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet separated, the singer was left feeling distraught. He revealed that he struggled to even sleep and ended up pouring his heart into making his second album, which was inspired by the break up. He told Rolling Stone that he wrote "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over," on the album Mama Said, for his ex-wife. "We were going through our break-off, which led to a divorce. We had our child and a great life together. We were sort of mirror images of each other; she was the female version of me and I was the male version of her and we blended together. So it was a very difficult time," Kravitz explained. The musician had such a hard time after the divorce that he barely slept more than two hours every night, but the album really helped him come to terms with how he was feeling and move past the painful experience. 

Eventually, after their break-up, Kravitz and Bonet managed to become friends again and put their past behind them. According to People, the couple "put in the work" they needed to become friends eventually. In fact, Kravitz even befriended his ex-wife's husband, popular actor Jason Momoa. Kravitz revealed that they've learned to love each other's families. As it turns out, Momoa and Kravitz get along really well.

Lenny Kravitz's musical success relied on his lack of fear

Lenny Kravitz is fearless as a musician. From choosing to use digital technology to produce his album, Five, released in 1998, to speaking out against the presence of American soldiers in Iraq through his song, "We Want Peace," Kravitz has been original and unapologetic as a musician — something that helped cement his success as an artist. According to Biography, Kravitz's experiment with Five was such a hit that he ended up winning his first Grammy award for the album. 

Rolling Stone explains, Kravitz is basically a versatile musician."I write music on anything," he said. "I write in my head, I write on the guitar, I write on the drums." The musician is someone who turns to life when he's seeking inspiration. In fact, he's written songs about some of the most important people in his life, such as his ex-wife, his daughter, and his parents. "A good song has to come from something that's inspired," he said. "Some people are great at formulating art, but that's not my thing. For me, it's life and inspiration, and it paints the picture for you.

Lenny Kravitz is close to his daughter

For Lenny Kravitz, being a dad to Zoe Kravitz is something he values deeply. He has turned to music in the past to express how he feels about his daughter. According to Yahoo, the father-daughter duo have always been close to each other. While speaking about Zoe, Kravitz said that she's like a friend to him "She's amazing, and she's all the things that I would have hoped for," he once told People. "I'm a dad, you know, but we're friends. We've very close. We talk about everything. We don't hide things from each other."

The singer has also lamented about the fact that his mom is not around anymore to see Zoe blossom into the woman she has become. He's certain that she would have a sense of pride for the woman her granddaughter has turned out to be with values like hard work, respect, honor, and discipline. Perhaps the song that is most apt when it comes to how Kravitz feels about his daughter is "Flowers for Zoe" from Mama Said. He told Rolling Stone that the song was a lullaby for his child. He said that the song is special to him and is like a "little fantasy."

Lenny Kravitz is also an actor

Lenny Kravitz, besides being a musician, is also an actor and a natural performer. He made his debut with the highly acclaimed film, Precious in 2009 (via Biography). He's also been a part of 2012's The Hunger Games and Butler, released in 2013. Kravitz spoke about acting once and said that he was offered many parts but was not tempted to take them up for years. "I just didn't find the roles very interesting –- a lot of clichéd type of stuff and really obvious things," he explained (via CNN). "'I didn't want to make films because I can. There's no point in that." 

Kravitz added that as a child, he was attracted to acting and enjoyed getting back to it later in life. He told Esquire that for him, the major difference between music and acting is the fact that music lets him indulge and focus on himself and his work, while acting requires him to be a part of a much larger project. He called it a "director's medium" and said that acting lets him go beyond himself. "With acting, I find it to be a relief. It lets me get out of myself and be somebody else," he said.

Lenny Kravitz often turns to religion

As a Christian, Lenny Kravitz has explored his faith and belief through music and also been open about his take on religion. According to Rolling Stone, the musician has been drawn to religion since he was just 5-years-old. "I had these really weird recurring dreams then," he said. He explained that his dreams were often disturbing and helped him understand that he couldn't wrap his mind around the idea of death. This led him to the path of religion and in embracing the idea that souls are meant to last.

"Then when I was 13, somebody talked to me — this kid that I knew whose father was a minister," Kravitz added. "He started telling me about God and Christ, and then I got this feeling over me that was just like I knew what I was hearing was correct." He further added that while he's religious, he doesn't follow any church in particular and thinks his relationship with God is personal. For him, it doesn't feel necessary to go to a church or an altar to worship and pray.

Lenny Kravitz beat depression

Lenny Kravitz is not a stranger to mental health troubles. According to Today, his music helped Kravitz overcome depression and deal with what he was going through. In the interview, he emphasized that it doesn't matter whether someone is privileged or not and that problems plague everyone. "I'm a perfectionist and very hard on myself — constantly standing outside of myself and looking and critiquing and judging, and sometimes you've gotta just ease up," he confessed, before adding that self-love is a part of that and is a journey.

One of his albums, Baptism, particularly dealt with heavy topics like depression and frustration — things that the musician once went through while touring. He said that the album was about making it through those feelings and evolving in many ways, including in terms of music, spirituality, and mental health. For Kravitz, depression is something that has been a part of his life and he acknowledges that, adding that he learned to work through it.