|Title:||Let Love Rule|
|Author/s:||Lenny Kravitz and David Ritz|
|Publisher/s:||Sphere/Jonathan Ball Publishers|
|Date of publication:||2020|
|Disclaimer:||Jonathan Ball Publishers kindly sent me a copy in exchange for an honest review|
“I am deeply two-sided: Black and white, Jewish and Christian, Manhattanite and Brooklynite. My young life was all about opposites and extremes. As a kid, you take everything in stride. So, I accepted my Gemini soul. I owned it. In fact, I adored it. Yin and yangs mingled in various parts of my heart and mind, giving my life balance and fuelling my curiosity, giving me comfort”
Lenny Kravitz was born Lennie Kravitz in 1964 to parents Roxie Roker and Sy Kravitz. The family lived in an apartment in Manhattan, and Lenny spent half of his childhood visiting museums and soaking up New York culture, and the other half with his loving grandparents in Brooklyn attending school. With Roxie being of Afro-Caribbean descent and Sy being white and Jewish, their son grew up being seen as ‘different’. However despite this, Lenny’s childhood is described as joyous and filled with love. Instead of only focusing on the politics of being black or of mixed race, Kravitz chooses to also focus on the duality of his life in all aspects, including the importance he placed on his cultural upbringing and his spiritual growth.
In reading Kravitz’s memoir, it becomes clear that this story is as much Lenny’s as it is Roxie Roker’s and Sy Kravitz’s story. His mother’s acting career, deep ambition and work ethic are as much a part of her son’s life, as Sy’s own job in television production and news and his determination to succeed. Their story dominates a significant part of Let Love Rule and this makes absolute sense. Both his parents, in their own way, encouraged their son’s musical aspirations and early interest in singing. When Roxie began working on The Jeffersons and the family moved to Los Angeles, Lenny’s life would change dramatically and in turn his rebellious spirit would embrace the sunshine and celebrity of his new home. He would also begin to develop a very serious interest in music, and mentions the Jackson 5, KISS, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Prince and The Rolling Stones as some of his inspirations, and all of whom played some part in his own developing rock n’ roll spirit.
In the eighties Kravitz had embraced the skating culture, developed a penchant for smoking marijuana and was living away from home after an incident with his father. He continued to have a strained relationship with Sy for years, whilst his relationship with Roxie, his grandparents Bessie and Albert Roker, and the numerous godmothers bestowed upon him continued to have a lasting impression on Lenny, kept him grounded and constantly aware of his roots.
Kravitz makes no attempt to hide the fact that he grew up surrounded by musicians, actors and famous writers, and was therefore privileged to a large extent. He spent his teenage years on the set of The Jeffersons and it was here that he was introduced to the woman who would eventually become his wife, and the mother of his daughter Zoe – Lisa Bonet. Theirs was a love story of kindred bohemian spirits, and during those blissful years Lennie (who had renamed himself Romeo Blue for a spell) became Lenny Kravitz and was finally offered a record contract with Virgin Records. For years Kravitz had refused to compromise his ‘sound’ in order to appease music executives, fellow band members and the masses, and it was finally paying off. This was the beginning of a career that would make Lenny Kravitz the superstar he is today.
Written with David Ritz, Let Love Rule, inhabits the spirit of a man and of a musician and of a rebel who refused to take the short-cut or the easy route. If the reader is expecting a memoir of struggle and the snippets from a controversial rock-star’s life, than you will be disappointed. Kravitz is upbeat and gracious, and the clear product of a hard-working mother and a disciplinarian father who both helped instill a sense of pride in their son whose standards were such that he refused to compromise.
It is worth noting that Let Love Rule is simply the beginning of Kravitz’s story. It is his childhood, and his first love, and the beginning of his life with Lisa. It is the tumultuous relationship with his father, and the admiration for his mother. Through a series of personal photographs the reader is given a glimpse into the beginnings of a man who loved his family, loved his homes (Brooklyn, Manhattan and LA), developed a love for unique fashion, was deeply spiritual and found his passion in music. Not only is this memoir a fantastic piece of music history and culture, it embodies the poetry and the spirit of rock n’ roll without the sex and drugs, still managing to keep you up reading through the night, and dreaming of a bohemian life with Lenny Kravitz as your best friend.