Ilya S. Savenok, Getty Images The sad news came across late Wednesday afternoon…
- Posted on Dec 16th 2009 2:00PM by Steve Baltin
"As you read in the Michael Jackson thing, I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you now if it wasn't for Michael Jackson, the Jackson 5, Berry Gordy and the whole Motown music machine that woke me up," Kravitz tells Spinner. "Stevie Wonder, 'Innervisions,' hearing that album took me to another level; Curtis Mayfield and that whole sound that he had, first hearing 'Superfly' when I was a kid, the sweet soul of Curtis; Al Green and the whole Memphis Stax sound; Isaac Hayes, Sam and Dave."
One huge influence came later, when he was already working on his debut album, 'Let Love Rule.' "The 'Plastic Ono Band' was a major album for me and you can hear it on 'Let Love Rule,'" he says. "It's funny because I hadn't really heard 'Plastic Ono Band' until I'd already made two or three songs for 'Let Love Rule' and I remember I was meeting with a manager. He heard a couple of tracks and he said, 'Are you a big fan of 'Plastic Ono Band?' I went and got it. I heard the similarities that he was talking about it, but it also then taught me a lot. It just took me to another level. It's like a combination of 'Plastic Ono Band' and 'Talking Book,' Stevie Wonder. That was kind of a major makeup of 'Let Love Rule.'"
Kravitz also had the chance to meet with a lot of musical icons over the years, some he met as a kid. "There are people that I grew up with you'd say have nothing to do with my sound, like Bobby Short, who was a cabaret singer in New York City, sang at the Café Carlisle," he says. "Miles Davis, who I grew up hearing my whole life and who was present even more than his music, I felt his music but I didn't understand it the way I understand it now. Duke Ellington, who I used to sit with while he played piano, I'd sit on his lap and watch him play -- major moments in my life where people whose influence has touched me."
Now, 20 years into his own career, he's had the chance to be peers with some of his heroes, even if that still overwhelms him. "When the record first came out, Curtis was one of my first fans. To even say that sounds ridiculous," Kravitz admits. "He followed me and he listened to that first record. I'd see him at shows and he'd be like, 'Man, keep doing what you're doing.' He'd tell me how much he loved what I was doing. Mick Jagger coming to my shows and coming up onstage and singing with me -- moments like that are so surreal and mind blowing to me and still are. "