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.
Kaye was born to Jewish parents in the Washington Heights area of upper Manhattan, New York, along the Hudson River. Growing up in Queens and Brooklyn, Kaye originally began playing 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 in 1967. He became a fan of science fiction and gained experience in writing, publishing his own fanzine, Obelisk, at the age of 15. Though he majored in American History, his true avocation 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
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. 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. (by wikipedia)
Lenny Kaye is a legend! From his early days as a rock writer/tastemaker to his landmark NUGGETS compilations of sixties garage band recordings to his current status as founding member/guitar god with the Patti Smith Group to his work as producer for the likes of Suzanne Vega and Soul Asylum, Lenny Kaye rolls on as the coolest rock n’ roll cat on the planet! Now, Lenny has unearthed a treasure trove of 1966 live recordings of his own garage band, the Zoo, for which Lenny, a/k/a the energetic LINK CROMWELL, made noise and snarled as the quintessential sixties punk frontman! This set features his 1966 Hollywood label single Crazy Like A Fox / Shock Me plus a cool dozen never issued live tracks! The ultimate sixties garage band live set from the ultimate sixties garage band chronicler/ historian/ enthusiast/ perpetrator!
Long before Lenny Kaye became one of America’s best writers or Patti Smith’s lead guitarist, his mid-’60s days were spent as front man Link Cromwell for a local college frat band the Zoo. This collection rounds up his lone Broadway single of the title cut along with surviving homemade tapes of the band bashing it out at a frat mixer circa 1966. The set list is loaded with garage band staples like “I’m Crying,” “Just Like Me,” “She’s Not There,” and “Little Latin Lupe Lu,” and the entire package gives not only insight into Lenny’s roots but also to the whole teen/frat band scene back in the day. A marvelous little document. (by by Cub Koda)
Lenny Kaye (vocals, guitar)
01. Crazy Like A Fox (live) (Kusik/Adams) 2.35
02. Zoo Theme (unknown) 1.43
03. Out Of Sight (Wright) 3.38
04. I’m Crying (Burdon/Price) 4.27
05. Tell Me (Jagger/Richards) 4.28
06. Just Like Me (Dey/Hart) 3.53
07. Mojo Workout (Morganfield) 5.11
08. She’s Not There (Argent) 3.58
09. I’m Mad Again (Hooker) 4.14
10. Gross Man (Link Cromwell And The Zoo) 4.17
11. Green Onions (Cropper/Jackson/Jones/Steinberg) 3.59
12. Crazy Like A Fox (Single) (Kusik/Adams) 2.19
13. Carol (Berry) 3.12
14. Little Latin Lupe Lu (Medley) 4.25
15 Shock Me (Kusik/Adams) 3.45
Lenny Kaye in 2017: