Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Lenny Kaye (1946 - )

@gatsbystyle " @splrefdept NEPA has almost everything,
including Patti Smith's guitarist! LOL!"

One of my favorite Tweeters Barb (aka gatsbystyle) sent me the link for a recent article from the Pocono Record titled "Snowmageddon" Part II: Speeders Beware, published on their website on February 8th, 2010. The last part of the article references Lenny Kaye, longtime collaborator of the legendary singer/poet/artist Patti Smith and that he lives in East Stoudsburg, PA. Wow! Even though it's not technically a WB/Scranton reference, it's still NEPA...and I LOVE Patti Smith, and Lenny Kaye is an excellent guitarist and a modern legend, so I'm including an entry on Lenny Kaye, damnit.

Lenny Kaye was born in New York City on December 27th, 1946. He moved to New Jersey when he was a teenager and later formed the bands The Vandals and The Zoo. He graduated from Rutgers University in 1968.

In 1971, Kaye met poet Patti Smith and began accompanying her at poetry readings. Kaye became Smith's most frequent collaborator, playing guitar on her quadrilogy of 1970s albums--the legendary Horses, Radio Ethiopia, Easter, and Wave. Kaye is the infamous "LENNY!" who sings the second verse on Smith's unapologetic rebel anthem "Rock and Roll N*****." Kaye and Smith ended their musical collaboration for a time in 1979 when Smith left the music industry to marry Fred "Sonic" Smith from the band MC5 and to start a family in Detroit.

In the 1980s, Kaye formed his own band, Lenny Kaye Connection, which released the album I've Got A Right in 1984. He also became a successful producer of other artists, including Soul Asylum, poet Allen Ginsberg, and two bestselling albums by Suzanne Vega (his first with Vega, 1987's Solitude Standing, spawned the top 3 hit single Luka). He was also a guitarist in The Jim Carroll Band in the 1980s.

Lenny Kaye resumed his artistic collaboration with Patti Smith in 1994; he co-produced her album Gone Again and has played guitar (and co-written songs with Smith) on all of her subsequent albums. They continue to tour the world together to this day.

Kaye is also a published author, co-authoring Waylon Jennings' 1996 autobiography and penning the 2004 Russ Columbo biography You Call It Madness. He has been nominated three times for Best Album Note Grammy Awards for CD boxed sets on the Bleecker & MacDougal, Crossroads, and Elektrorock.

According to the Pocono Record, Kaye presently makes his home in East Stroudsburg, PA, and he often plays gigs in area pubs such as Gallo's Bar and the awesome record store Main Street Jukebox.

Kaye also continues to tour the world as lead guitarist of The Patti Smith Band. Smith usually closes her shows with "Rock and Roll N*****" with Kaye sharing vocals, and he often does a solo cover of The Seeds' 1966 hit Pushin' Too Hard during the shows as well.

Lenny Kaye was also interviewed in yesterday's (February 8th) issue of the Pocono Record; to read it, click here. In the interview, Kaye states that he and Smith are presently writing songs for a new album :)

Now if only Mr. Kaye stumbles across this blog entry via Google and can score me some impossible-to-get tickets for Patti Smith's annual end-of-year three-night gig at NYC's Bowery Ballroom...I can wish, can't I?

Several of Patti Smith's CDs featuring Lenny Kaye on guitar--including Horses, Radio Ethiopia, Easter, Wave, Gone Again, Peace & Noise, Trampin', Twelve and the career-spanning compilation Land--are available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System. Lenny Kaye is also featured in the superb documentary Patti Smith: Dream of Life, available to borrow from Albright Memorial Library.

Much thanks again to the ever awesome Barb (aka Twitter's gatsbystyle) for this groovy NEPA reference. And indeed, "NEPA has almost everything, including Patti Smith's guitarist!"


Andrea said...

I love Patti and Lenny, too! Seen them play live several times. Just went to a signing for Patti's new book and got one signed by her. Awesome to know that Lenny is so close.

Reference Department, Albright Memorial Library said...

I must ask you, Andrea. What was she like in person? Was the signing in NYC?