Lenny Kravitz on His New Memoir, That Scarf Meme and How to Get His Abs

Culture

For the past seven months, Lenny Kravitz ditched his home in Paris for a sun-soaked life in The Bahamas, where he has long maintained an estate. “I’ve basically been around about five people,” Kravitz tells GQ. You can almost feel his Zen attitude vibrating over the phone.

But despite his relaxed surroundings, Kravitz, 56, has remained busy this month. On October 6th, the rock musician released his new memoir Let Love Rule, named after his 1989 debut studio album, which details the first 25 years of his life. In the first of two parts, Kravitz recalls his vibrant childhood between New York and Los Angeles, his fraught relationship with his father, his unstoppable passion for music and his relationship with Lisa Bonet. Along the way, Kravitz meets his heroes, learns to embrace his identity as a Black Jew, and falls in love.

Throughout his 30-year career, Kravitz has been a sex symbol, a pop culture fixture, a meme, an ultimate guitar shredder and a walking Pinterest board of abs. His daughter with Bonet is actress and singer Zoe Kravitz, and Bonet’s new husband is actor Jason Momoa. “We’re one family, and that’s how we live our lives,” he says.

In early October, Kravtiz discussed his new memoir, workout routine, the recent memes that have made him a viral sensation and more.

GQ: You had such an incredible upbringing around so many artistic people. But one of the main cruxes of the story is your relationship with your mom and your dad. What did you learn from your own parents that you applied as a father?

Lenny Kravitz: Obviously with my father, as you read, we had a very challenging relationship. Although he loved me and I loved him, it was a very challenging relationship. He wasn’t that warm father that I would have wanted. I’m sure that I became extremely warm as a parent, as a father to my child, because I knew that’s the way it should be, and that’s what I wanted. And my mother was so loving, so warm, so hands-on, emotionally available and was always doing her best to teach me. But my father, he did expose me to so many wonderful things growing up in New York City. I needed that fire under my ass, because that pushed me to really start my journey early, to leave the house and find my way. Putting myself out there in the world was the most incredible education that I could have had. That was my university: Leaving home at 15 or 16.

Something you mentioned in the book is your dad’s style. What did you learn from him in terms of style?

He was a well-dressed man. He loved his suits. It was the 1970s, so the clothes had more flair, color and patterns. But he was a sharp man. He was charismatic. He was intelligent. He was funny. I could see how he used that warmth on other people, I just think he didn’t quite know how to apply that to me, perhaps based on his relationship with his father, and also him becoming a military person. He kind of raised me as though he was a sergeant, and I was a private.

One of the things that I really love from the memoir is how your mom set up this presence of five godmothers. You say in the book, “Black feminine energy kept me sane.” What did you learn from having those five different women in your life?

I recognized their strength: how much love they could give, how supportive they could be, how talented they were and how they were the rock of the family, and their families. I always felt seen by them, even as a child. I marveled at their God-given talents. These women were just juggling everything. Not only were they trailblazers in their fields, they were also taking care of their families, their men and their lives. Having those kinds of women around me was really nurturing.

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