The Last Living Rock Star Remembers The King of Reggae—And Reveals Why He Cut His Locks

Kids nowadays probably know Lenny Kravitz as that dude in The Hunger Games flicks, but the fact is that he’s one of the last great rock stars walking the planet. When he first came out, shredding his Les Paul and flashing his dreadlocks, haters used to call him a Bob Marley wannabe. But the fact is Lenny had more in common with the Tuff Gong than a hairstyle. The offspring of a black mom and a Jewish dad, he grew up between a Caribbean island (Bahamas, not Jamaica) and the U.S. Although Bob spent less time in Delaware than Lenny did in NYC, the island vibe is a party of his musical identity. Kravitz will rock Webster Hall tonight as part of his Strut tour, so this seemed as good time a time as any to hold a likkle reasoning. Interview After The Jump…
(Via Mass Appeal)

People forget about your island life. Obviously you came out with the dreadlocks, but your music was very rock & roll. How much time did you spend in the Bahamas growing up and how did that shape your music?
I spent Christmases and summers in the Bahamas since I was probably like five years old. And I don’t know how it shaped my music directly other than I grew up listening to calypso music and straight reggae and other stuff from the Bahamas. So I have that vocabulary. I have that groove in me. It’s there, you know. I mean I have to have a couple of reggae tunes. And my right hand rhythm in my guitar is also calypso.

Really? I don’t think I’ve ever heard that observation made about your music.
No. It’s not obvious at all.

Who’s your favorite reggae artist?
Oh, Bob Marley.

Is that a dumb question?
Of course. Nobody did it like that.

Do you have a favorite Bob tune?
Umm—they’re all good. That’s the problem. I can’t say I have a favorite one. That guy, everything that he did felt good. Great feeling and melody and subjects.

Do you prefer the love songs or the rebel songs?
Both, both. But the rebel songs are really strong. Those songs mean a lot to me, but the love songs are beautiful too. He was hardcore with his love.

He had to write some sweet songs for certain situations.
Yeah.

Your daughter is involved in music. Do you follow the music of Bob’s kids?
Of course. I know Ziggy really well. We were on the same label—we were on Virgin. So when I lived in Miami I used to go over to his grandmother’s house.

Oh, Cedella Booker?
Oh yeah I used to go over there and eat and talk, smoke, chill, listen to music. She was really sweet to me. So I actually got to know her better than any of the kids. I spent more one on one time with her.

That’s amazing.
It was just like being with my grandmother: the love and the nurturing that she gave. I felt very much at home with her.

Was it a big deal for you to decide to cut your locks?
Yes it was. It was. It wasn’t something that I really wanted to do. But I was with Zoe’s mom, when the Five album came out. And she said you should cut your locks.

vintagelenny

Oh it was Lisa’s idea?
Yeah, and I’d had them I guess ten years at that time. And, you know, they were down to my ass. I don’t know—it felt like the right moment. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t. A lot of cases I’m glad I did. But it was very interesting to do.

Well your new look is cool, but there’s also a spiritual side to it.
Oh yeah, absolutely. It was an energy shift. But like I said, it happened. There’s no going back.

Did you cut them right there on the spot?
Yeah she grabbed a razor blade and she did it.

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If that final anecdote conjures up images of Samson & Delilah, apparently there are no hard feelings. Just last night Lenny and Lisa attended the Met gala with their daughter Zoe.

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