Oct. 16, 2009 -- Four-time Grammy winner Lenny Kravitz sat down recently with "Nightline" at the nightclub RdV on 13th Street in New York City to talk about the recordings that changed his life.
The rock legend was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1964.
"From the time I was a small child, music was the thing," said Kravitz. "I was always trying to play whatever was around, if there was no instruments, I'd play on pots and pans, I'd play on this toy xylophone that I had, and my dad had a guitar around the house so I'd play that, there was a piano, later on drums and bass but…music is just the one thing that really touches me in that way. And I feel I was put here to make music for whomever, myself…and I've never stopped since."
Jackson 5, "The Love You Save"
"That was the first song that really blew my mind… first of all, the songwriting was amazing, the production was amazing, the players were amazing, and on top of that you have Michael's incredible voice, which will never be matched again."
Duke Ellington, "Take the A Train" or "It Don't Mean a Thing"
"So my parents had a lot of friends in the jazz world, we used to go to see a lot of shows and Duke Ellington was playing the Rainbow Room, and I was probably turning 5, and sat me on his lap behind the piano while he was playing, and during the show he played 'Happy Birthday' to me. And I remember he was wearing a white suit, and he had silver hair, sort of salt-and-pepper but a lot of silver and it was combed back, slicked back, and he had this goatee, and he was just a nice man. Obviously, I didn't know the significance of …here's Duke Ellington, you know, this is like…major."
Led Zeppelin, "Good Times Bad Times"
As a 15-year-old rebel, Kravitz left home, determined to make it in music.
"Led Zeppellin. I'd have to say 'Good Times Bad Times,' he said, naming one of his musical influences. "When I moved out, I was 15, but you're not thinking about your life and your career. I just knew that this is what to do, I just want to be studying music…but obviously, I had to go to school and do that whole thing. But I've always known."
Marvin Gaye, "Let's Get It On"
In 1985, Kravitz met actress Lisa Bonet backstage at a concert, and they fell in love.
"It's hard to beat that one. How sexy it is, how raw it is, how straight to the point it is, and the whole execution of the song, the way it's played and the way it's sung, it's just, it's a pure moment of raw desire."
Stevie Wonder, "Jesus Children of America"
In 1988, Kravitz and Bonet's daughter, Zoe, was born. The couple divorced five years later.
"Stevie Wonder from 'Inner Visions,' 'Jesus Children of America.' That album was the first album that I heard, where I really started to dissect the parts and the production. I guess I was about 10 and it was just a time when my ear really opened up, and Stevie was the reason. And it's just a beautiful song – the message."
Nina Simone, "Here Comes the Sun"
Ten years later, in 1998, Kravitz won his first Grammy, for "Fly Away." Three more would come.
"Nina Simone's version of 'Here Comes the Sun' by the Beatles, which is a beautiful track. It just feels so hopeful, so spiritual, it's very melancholy, it's just…she almost turns it into a hymn. It's beautiful. I think about settling down, but it doesn't ever seem to happen, I think it's more of a fantasy. I love to create and I love to use different mediums; who knows what will happen one day, but I think that I'll always have the desire to create. For some reason, I feel that's the best way I express myself."