The singer opens up to PEOPLE about a formative experience he had when he first listened to the English rock band
In this week's cover story, the longtime rocker, 59, tells PEOPLE about a formative experience he had when he first listened to the English rock band lead by vocalist Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page.
“I was cutting class with my friend, another Black Jewish kid, and she rolled this really nice joint, and I had never been high before. This guy had a boom box playing Zeppelin IV, and I was reborn,” Kravitz recalls of his childhood moment in Santa Monica, California, listening to the 1971 album — the band's fourth untitled record at the time, which became commonly known as Led Zeppelin IV following the first three similarly titled releases.
While the album is largely known for introducing the now-influential song, "Stairway to Heaven," it was the lead track, "Black Dog," that hooked Kravitz at the time "with this great riff," he says.
Listening to the record — and the band — proved to be monumental for Kravitz, who up until that time only cited groups like the Jackson 5 for giving him his first taste of rock and roll. (“Those were rock stars — young, Black rock stars doing it to the fullest,” he says of the family quintet.)
For Kravitz, it expanded what the rock and roll genre could be — particularly when it comes to race and sound. When it comes to Led Zeppelin, for instance, he says that what spoke to him “was the power of Black music like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, electrified by these British musicians who understood the origin and made it louder and more intense.”
The singer — who is known for fusing rock, funk, reggae, soul and R&B into his own music — says, “When I heard it, this vortex opened up.”
And from there, his influences continued to expand as he embraced Santa Monica's 1970s Dogtown and Z-Boys culture as well as listened to comedy records by Cheech & Chong. "It was this whole culture that was happening in Los Angeles at that time," Kravitz recalls, "and I just moved from New York having no idea of any of this, and there I was."
But it's Led Zeppelin's influence that can be heard in Kravitz's extended discography, from his 1993 breakthrough album Are You Gonna Go My Way — which features the Grammy Award-nominated title track — to his 12th studio album Blue Electric Light, which drops on March 15.
In fact, Kravitz even got to pay tribute to the band, when they were recognized by President Barack Obama and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2012. Kravitz was part of an all-star lineup (including the Foo Fighters and Kid Rock) who performed a medley of "Rock and Roll," "Baby I'm Gonna Leave You," "Ramble On" and "A Whole Lotta Love."
For more on Lenny Kravitz's life and loves, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere now.
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Read the original article on People.