Lenny Kravitz's Pot-Powered Led Zeppelin Epiphany: 'A Rebirth'

Kravitz Reflects on Life-Altering Musical Epiphany

by Zain ul Abedin
Lenny Kravitz's Pot-Powered Led Zeppelin Epiphany: 'A Rebirth'
© Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

In the world of music, there are moments when an artist or band's work profoundly touches a listener's soul. For rock icon Lenny Kravitz, that pivotal moment came courtesy of the legendary English rock band Led Zeppelin. In an exclusive interview for this week's cover story, the 59-year-old rocker opened up about a formative experience from his youth that forever changed the course of his musical journey.

It was a sunny day in Santa Monica, California, when Kravitz decided to skip class with a close friend, another Black Jewish teenager. Together, they embarked on a rebellious adventure that involved sharing a carefully rolled joint.

As the sweet smoke filled the air, a portable boombox started playing Led Zeppelin IV, the iconic 1971 album that would come to define an era. Kravitz vividly remembers the moment when the opening track, "Black Dog," with its electrifying riff, captured his attention.

It was a sound unlike anything he had heard before and left an indelible mark on his musical sensibilities.

Musical Revelation and Expansion

Before this encounter, Kravitz's musical influences were primarily drawn from the Jackson 5, a group of young Black rock stars who had already left an indomitable mark on the world of music.

However, Led Zeppelin introduced him to an entirely new dimension of rock and roll. Kravitz described the band's fusion of Black music, embodied by artists like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, electrified and intensified by British musicians who revered its origins.

This blending of cultures and sounds opened up a new world for him. Kravitz, known for his genre-defying style, explained, "When I heard it, this vortex opened up." From that point on, his musical influences expanded even further as he immersed himself in the vibrant 1970s Dogtown and Z-Boys culture of Santa Monica.

The influence of Led Zeppelin can be clearly heard in Kravitz's extensive discography, from his breakthrough 1993 album, "Are You Gonna Go My Way," to his forthcoming 12th studio album, "Blue Electric Light," scheduled for release on March 15.

In a touching tribute to Led Zeppelin's enduring legacy, Kravitz had the honor of performing as part of an all-star lineup that celebrated the band's recognition by President Barack Obama at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2012.

Alongside the Foo Fighters and Kid Rock, Kravitz delivered a memorable medley of Led Zeppelin classics, including "Rock and Roll," "Baby I'm Gonna Leave You," "Ramble On," and "A Whole Lotta Love."