Lenny Kaye - Biography

Lenny Kaye is an American musician, record producer, and writer. He has also been the guitarist for Patti Smith's band since it formed in the '70s. Born in New York in 1946, Kaye moved to New Jersey in 1960 where he attended high school and later college at Rutgers University. After college, Kaye moved back to Manhattan and began writing for music publications and working at Village Oldies, a record store on Bleecker Street. It was at Village Oldies that Kaye met Patti Smith. They first performed together at St. Mark's Church on February 10, 1971, a concert which has been captured on CD and is available here. Kaye produced Patti Smith's debut single, "Hey Joe / Piss Factory," and appeared on the first four albums by the Patti Smith Group: Horses (Arista, 1975), Radio Ethiopia (Arista, 1976), Easter (Arista, 1978), and Wave (Arista, 1979).


After Patti Smith retired from the public eye in 1979, Kaye joined the Jim Carroll Band and formed his own group, the Lenny Kaye Connection. They released one album, I've Got a Right (Giorno Poetry Systems), in 1984. Kaye produced Suzanne Vega's first two releases, including the Grammy nominated single "Luka" from her second album. He has also produced albums by Soul Asylum and Kristin Hersh, among others.


Kaye's writing career began in the late '60s and early '70s, when he was writing reviews for Jazz and Pop, Fusion, Crawdaddy, Melody Maker, Creem and Rolling Stone. He also served as the editor of Cavalier until 1975, and edited Rock Scene and Hit Parader during the '70s. Kaye assembled the 1972 compilation, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965–1968, with the founder of Elektra Records, Jay Holzman. He also wrote the liner notes for Nuggets and has been credited with one of the first uses of the phrase "punk rock" in those liner notes. He has also co-authored the book, Rock 100: The Greatest Stars of Rock's Golden Age (Grosset & Dunlap, 1977) and been nominated three times for Grammy awards in the liner notes category.


Kaye reuinted with Patti Smith in 1995, when she returned to recording and performing, and has appeared on the last six Patti Smith albums, including 2012's Banga (Columbia). He has played at Amoeba Hollywood twice with Patti Smith - May 3, 2007 for the release of Twelve (Columbia) and then again on October 11, 2012.

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