Lenny Kaye

Lenny Kaye (born December 27, 1946) is an American guitarist, composer, and writer who is best known as a member of the Patti Smith Group.[1]

Lenny Kaye
Kaye playing guitar wearing aviator sunglasses
Kaye touring in Rosengarten with Patti Smith, 1978
Background information
Also known asLenny Kaye Connection
BornDecember 27, 1946 (age 72)
OriginNew York City, U.S.
GenresRock, protopunk
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, record producer, music journalist
InstrumentsGuitar, bass, vocals
Years active1964–present
LabelsGiorno Poetry Systems,
Arista, Columbia
Associated actsPatti Smith, R.E.M.

Early life

Kaye was born to Jewish parents[2] in the Washington Heights area of upper Manhattan, New York, along the Hudson River. Growing up in Queens and Brooklyn, Kaye originally began playing the accordion, but by the end of the 1950s, had dropped the instrument in favor of collecting records. His family moved to North Brunswick, New Jersey, in 1960 where Lenny attended high school, and later, college, graduating from Rutgers University in 1967, majoring in American history.[3] He became a fan of science fiction and gained experience in writing, publishing his own fanzine, Obelisk, at the age of 15.[4] Though he majored in American history, his true vocation was musical, and it was there that he first began playing in bands, on a college mixer and fraternity circuit. His first gig, with the Vandals ("Bringing down the house with your kind of music"), was at Alpha Sigma Phi on November 7, 1964.[5]


Lenny Kaye-1978
Kaye in concert with the Patti Smith Group, Germany, 1979

As musician, writer, and record producer, Kaye was intimately involved with an array of artists and bands. He was a guitarist for poet/rocker Patti Smith from her band's inception in 1974, and co-authored Waylon, The Life Story of Waylon Jennings. He worked in the studio with such artists as R.E.M., James, Suzanne Vega, Jim Carroll, Soul Asylum, Kristin Hersh, and Allen Ginsberg. His seminal anthology of sixties' garage-rock, Nuggets, is widely regarded as defining the genre.[6] You Call It Madness: The Sensuous Song of the Croon, an impressionistic study of the romantic singers of the 1930s, was published by Villard/Random House in 2004.

His uncle, songwriter Larry Kusik ("A Time For Us" from Romeo and Juliet; "Speak Softly Love" from The Godfather) took note of his lengthening hair and musical commitment, and asked him to sing on a song he'd recently penned with Ritchie Adams, once of the Fireflies ("You Were Mine"). Kaye soon found himself in Associated Recording Studios on Times Square, recording "Crazy Like A Fox", along with its flip side, "Shock Me". The resultant 45, issued under the name of Link Cromwell, was leased to Hollywood Records, a division of Starday Records located in Nashville, Tennessee, and released in March 1966. It garnered a Newcomer Pick of the Week from Cashbox ("A rhythmic bluesy folk-rocker with a pulsating beat") and was issued in England as well as Australia; but failed to move in the charts. Though hardly a smash, it gave Kaye a sense of self as a musician, and inspired him to continue performing and playing. His group at the time, The Zoo, worked a college circuit ranging from New York to Pennsylvania; this early experience has been captured on a live album issued by Norton Records, Live 1966.[5]

Moving back to the city, Kaye began writing reviews for Jazz & Pop magazine (which was edited at the time by Jim Morrison's soon-to-be wife, Patricia Kennealy Morrison); branching out to such nascent rock publications as Fusion, Crawdaddy and Rolling Stone.[7] He became the music editor of Cavalier, a men's magazine, and would write a monthly column for them until 1975; and the New York correspondent for the British weekly, Disc. As a freelance writer, he wrote for a wide range of periodicals, including Melody Maker and Creem, and edited such publications as Rock Scene and Hit Parader throughout the 1970s.

While working at the record store Village Oldies on Bleecker Street in New York, Kaye met poet-singer Patti Smith. On February 10, 1971, he backed her at a reading at St. Mark's Church on East 10th Street. When they resumed performance in November 1973, their artistic efforts bore fruit as one of the major rock bands of the 1970s. Kaye produced Patti's debut single ("Hey Joe / Piss Factory"), and performed as part of her Group throughout the decade, as reflected in four Arista albums: Horses (1975), Radio Ethiopia (1976), Easter (1978) and Wave (1979).

Following the Patti Smith Group's final performance in September 1979, Kaye joined the Jim Carroll Band, as well as fronting his own Lenny Kaye Connection. He co-produced Suzanne Vega's first two albums, including her 1987 hit single, "Luka", which was nominated for a Grammy as Record of the Year. He has been nominated three times for Grammy awards in the liner notes category for boxed sets on the sixties folk revival (Bleecker and MacDougal), white blues (Crossroads), and progressive rock (Elektrock); and in 1977, with David Dalton, co-authored "Rock 100", a comprehensive overview of leading rock stars from the 1950s til the 1970s.

In 1995, he reunited with Patti Smith and has been a part of her band since, creating five studio albums, a retrospective, and celebrating the thirtieth anniversary release of their landmark debut album, Horses.[5]

In 2010, Kaye contributed a solo recording for Daddy Rockin' Strong: A Tribute to Nolan Strong and the Diablos (The Wind/Norton Records). Kaye recorded a version of "I Wanna Know," a 1950s R&B ballad. He appears on and wrote one song for The Fleshtones 2011 album Brooklyn Sound Solution (Yep Roc). Also, he appeared on "Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter" and "Blue" on R.E.M.'s 2011 album Collapse into Now, an album that Patti Smith also contributed to, also on "Blue" and another song, "Discoverer".

In mid-February 2018, Kaye took over the night shift on Little Steven's Underground Garage, replacing Richard Manitoba who was let go mid-January 2018.


As Link Cromwell "Crazy Like A Fox" b/w "Shock Me" (Ork Records) 1977

Lenny Kaye Connection

  • I've Got a Right (1984)
  • Daddy Rockin Strong: A Tribute to Nolan Strong & The Diablos (The Wind / Norton Records, 2010, TWR002 LP)

track: "I Wanna Know"

  • "Child Bride" b/w "The Tracks of My Tears" (Mer Records 1980 Z270-B)

See also

  • List of guitarists
  • Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965–1968


  1. ^ "Lenny Kaye". Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  2. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph (June 12, 2009). "Punk, and Jewish: Rockers Explore Identity" – via NYTimes.com.
  3. ^ http://blog.acehotel.com/post/170318643418/interview-lenny-kaye
  4. ^ Wolk, Douglas. "Lenny Kaye, Silent Partner to Patti Smith, Suzanna Vega and Corin Tucker" MTV Hive July 5, 2012
  5. ^ a b c "Lenny Kaye". Archived from the original on December 3, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2008.
  6. ^ https://www.allmusic.com/album/nuggets-original-artyfacts-from-the-first-psychedelic-era-1965-1968-mw0000599845
  7. ^ Lenny Kaye (June 22, 1968), Correspondence, Love Letters & Advice, Rolling Stone

External links

Banga (album)

Banga is the eleventh studio album by American rock musician Patti Smith, released on June 1, 2012 on Columbia Records. Recorded throughout 2011 at New York's Electric Lady Studios and Hoboken's Hobo Recorders, Banga was produced by Smith, Tony Shanahan, Jay Dee Daugherty and collaborator Lenny Kaye. The album includes a number of guest musicians including Tom Verlaine of Television, Italian band Casa del Vento, Jack Petruzzelli and Smith's own children, Jackson and Jesse Paris.

Inspired by Smith's "unique dreams and observations", the material on Banga focuses on "a wide range of human experience" and features songs about history, current affairs, death and nature. The album was announced alongside the release of its lead single, "April Fool", as a digital download on April 1, 2012.

Free Money (song)

"Free Money" is a rock song written by Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye, and first released on Smith's 1975 album Horses. In 1977 Sammy Hagar covered the song on his eponymous album. Also covered by Penetration on their album Moving Targets and later by Cell as a B-side.

Gone Again

Gone Again is the sixth studio album by Patti Smith, released June 18, 1996 on Arista Records. The production of the record was preceded by the deaths of many of Smith's close friends and peers, including her husband Fred "Sonic" Smith, her brother Todd, Robert Mapplethorpe, Richard Sohl and Kurt Cobain, with whom Smith had sympathized. In addition to this, Gone Again also features the last studio performance of Jeff Buckley released before his death less than a year later.

May 13, 1999 Rolling Stone magazine placed the album on its list of "The Essential Recordings of the '90s".

Hang Time (album)

Hang Time is a 1988 album from the band Soul Asylum. Released on A&M Records, it was the band's major-label debut.

Singer/guitarist Dave Pirner wrote the majority of the album. Guitarist Dan Murphy chimed in with "Cartoon," released as one of the album's singles. The CD version features the "bone-us" (bonus) track "Put the Bone In", by Terry Jacks, better known for the ballad "Seasons in the Sun". As of 2006, the album has yet to sell 100,000 copies.

Hey Joe / Radio Ethiopia

Hey Joe / Radio Ethiopia is the first EP by Patti Smith Group, released in 1977 on Arista Records.

Hips and Makers

Hips and Makers is the debut solo album by Kristin Hersh, best known as the primary singer and songwriter of the band Throwing Muses. The album was released by 4AD in the UK on January 24, 1994, and by Sire Records in the US on February 1, 1994. In contrast to Hersh's rock-oriented work with Throwing Muses, the album is primarily acoustic, with Hersh usually playing unaccompanied. Other credited musicians include Jane Scarpantoni on cello and Michael Stipe of R.E.M., who sings backing vocals on the opening track, "Your Ghost." In addition to Hersh's own material, the album features a cover of the traditional song "The Cuckoo".

"It's personal, literally so," Hersh said, "Full of skin and coffee, shoes and sweat and babies and sex and food and stores – just stupid stuff that's really a big deal."The album peaked at #7 in the UK Album Charts, the highest placing of any of Hersh's offerings on her own or with Throwing Muses. The album peaked at #197 on the US's Billboard 200 Albums Chart. It also peaked at #10 on the US's Billboard Heatseekers Album Chart.

Larry Kusik

Larry Kusik (also known as Larry Kusic) is a lyricist. He is perhaps best known for writing the lyrics for the tune "Speak Softly Love", the love theme from the 1972 film The Godfather. He has also written lyrics to many other movie themes, including "A Time for Us" from the 1968 film version of Romeo and Juliet, Murder on the Orient Express, Mommie Dearest, Rosemary's Baby, "Love Said Goodbye" from the 1974 film The Godfather Part II and Serpico. Along with composer Paul Evans, he wrote the song "Live Young" for the spring break film Palm Springs Weekend.His nephew is musician and producer Lenny Kaye.

Redondo Beach (song)

"Redondo Beach" is a rock/reggae song written by Patti Smith, Richard Sohl and Lenny Kaye, and first released on Patti Smith's 1975 album Horses. It was also published as a poem in Smith's 1972 book kodak under the title "Radando Beach".

The lyrics relate the suicide by drowning of a young woman following an argument with the song's narrator. It has frequently been interpreted as a lesbian-themed song; Smith appeared to encourage this interpretation in her live performances, frequently introducing the song with "Redondo Beach is a beach where women love other women".She later said that she wrote the lyrics in 1971 following a fight with her sister Linda; Linda subsequently disappeared for the day, causing Patti to worry that she had come to harm. Smith has also stated that she considers herself "beyond gender" in her artistic expression. Smith's lyrics were set to a reggae arrangement.

Richard Sohl

Richard Arthur Sohl (May 26, 1953 – June 3, 1990) was an American pianist, songwriter and arranger, best known for his work with the Patti Smith Group. He also played with Iggy Pop, Nina Hagen and Elliott Murphy. He died on June 3, 1990 of a heart attack, while vacationing in Cherry Grove, Fire Island, New York.

Sohl was nicknamed "DNV", by Lenny Kaye, who thought that he resembled "Tadzio", the beautiful Polish boy from Luchino Visconti's Death in Venice, played by Björn Andresen. "DNV" is an abbreviation of the movie title.

Rock N Roll Nigger

"Rock N Roll Nigger" is a rock song written by Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye, and released on the Patti Smith Group's 1978 album Easter. The song has since been covered by several artists, including Marilyn Manson, and a remix was included on the soundtrack of the 1994 film Natural Born Killers.

Solitude Standing

Solitude Standing is the second studio album by American singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega. Released in 1987, it is the most popular and critically acclaimed of her career. Many songs were written prior to 1987.

Strings (EP)

Strings is an EP recording by Kristin Hersh, released in 1994 (see 1994 in music). It peaked at #60 on the Official UK Singles Chart.

Stutter (album)

Stutter was the debut studio album from English band James, released in July 1986. The album was produced by Lenny Kaye, although the band had originally hoped to work with Brian Eno. After a bidding war between a number of labels, the album was released on Blanco y Negro, part of Sire. Artwork was provided by John Carroll.

Summer Cannibals

"Summer Cannibals" is a rock song written by Patti Smith and Fred "Sonic" Smith, and released as a lead single from Patti Smith 1996 album Gone Again. The song derives from a song Fred "Sonic" Smith wrote and played with his pre-Sonic Rendezvous Band, Ascension in September 1973. Ascension included Michael Davis on vocals and John Hefti on bass.

Suzanne Vega (album)

Suzanne Vega is the self-titled debut album by Suzanne Vega. It was well-received by music journalists in the U.S. and reached platinum status in the United Kingdom. Produced by Lenny Kaye and Steve Addabbo, the songs feature Vega's acoustic guitar in straightforward arrangements. A video was released for the album's song "Marlene on the Wall", which went into MTV and VH1's rotations.

In 1989, Rolling Stone magazine listed Suzanne Vega at number 80 on its "100 Best Albums of the Eighties". It is also mentioned in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Yuganda Taiyō

"Yuganda Taiyō" (歪んだ太陽) is Japanese singer-songwriter Ua's third re-cut single and tenth overall, released on May 21, 1998. "Yuganda Taiyō" was produced by Johnny Fingers, while the B-side "Koibito" was produced by Lenny Kaye. The single debuted at #77, spending only one week on the Oricon singles chart.

Studio albums
Live albums
Promotional singles
Other songs
Band members
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