Are You Gonna Go His Way?
You join us in 1989 as we barrel down the freeway from Los Angeles to Orange County in a shiny chrome bus. There’s myself, Lenny Kravitz and his wife Lisa Bonet. Baby Zoe is also on board, and she’s being tended to by Lisa’s mother Arlene. We’re on our way down to a Tom Petty concert, which Lenny will open, and the mood is upbeat.
It’s not been long since Lenny released his first album, so he’s cool about the press and allows this writer several days of quality access. We’ve already worked on an NME photo shoot at the Griffith Observatory, where James Dean posed during Rebel Without A Cause. By the end of the week, we’ll have sat in during the video edit for ‘Mr Cab Driver’, a moment that is rudely upstaged by Slash from Guns N’ Roses. But that’s another story.
Back in Orange County and we’re having small talk with Lisa, who’s clearly not fazed by the media intrusion. She looks like any other considerate mother, although the tattoo on the back of her neck keeps making the connection back to ‘Angel Heart’. The baby girl will later inspire a song called ‘Little Girl's Eyes’, but for now, she’s a helpless bundle and the family bonds accordingly.
The concert is pretty good and I remember a rather fine version of the Hendrix tune, ‘If 6 Was 9’. Backstage, I have dinner with Roger McGuinn from The Byrds, without knowing it was he. Well, he doesn’t wear the hexagonal shades these days. And during the headline act, I’m so busy following Duff McKagan and Slash through the VIP area that I miss an onstage performance by Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. D’oh!
I met Lenny again a couple of years later at a Danish festival and he had morphed into an egotistical loon, a Superfly caricature and a divorcee. I’d I’ve rarely thought of him since. But now it seems that Zoe Kravitz is being regarded as acting talent, with roles in the recent films The Brave One and No Reservations. Good luck to her, and may she avoid some of her father’s pitfalls.
Stu Bailie presents The Late show on Radio Ulster, every Friday from 10pm until midnight. See his playlist here.