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Et tu, Lenny

Like every other rocker, Lenny Kravitz is headlining his own festival

As an artist, Kravitz has certainly matured since his debut in '89 and his psychedelia-awash Let Love Rule and its follow-up, '91's funkier Mama Said, an open letter about his crumbling marriage to Cosby-kind Lisa Bonet, which resembles another divorce disc, Marvin Gaye's Here, My Dear. The resemblance is more than coincidental given the fact that Gaye -- along with other '60s and '70s artists such as the Beatles, the Stones (both Rolling and Sly) and George Clinton -- is one of Kravitz's main influences. Gaye and others are also the performers that Kravitz has been accused (not always falsely) of appropriating a little too closely on his records. His commercial breakthrough, '93's Are You Gonna Go My Way?, should have at least muffled some critics and helped fight the stigma, but it didn't.

"'70s ripoff" is a barb that Kravitz shares with a group that debuted the same year as Let Love Rule, tourmates The Black Crowes. Still, the pairing is something both bands have thought about for years, and when Kravitz had the opportunity to handpick his support acts, he thought of the Crowes first.

"The Crowes rock," he says. "They play, and they play for real. No bullshit, and they're really powerful. With Everlast, I just liked what I've heard from him and thought he would be a really interesting add. And with Cree, I just produced her debut record, and she's got a lot of really great material."

Summer's decadelong intermingling with the former Mr. and Mrs. Kravitz has been soap operatic. After playing Bonet's best friend on the Cosby spinoff, A Different World, Summer befriended Bonet off camera. During the course of the '90s, Summer found a few acting jobs, a lot of voice-over work and limited success in the music business. That was until Bonet passed along a tape of Summer's to Kravitz (who shares custody of his and Bonet's daughter, Zoe). A short time later, Kravitz was behind the boards and Summer in front of the mike to record Street Faerie.

Kravitz, who has honed his producing skills on Madonna's Justify My Love as well as on records for French star (and former girlfriend) Vanessa Paradis and world-beat performer John Product (on his upcoming new Roxie Records label), injects his style into all the tunes.

For Live '99, Kravitz will be backed by longtime road band Craig Ross on guitar, Jack Daley on bass and the hugely afroed Cindy Blackman on drums (even though Kravitz usually plays all the instruments on a record). Austin Powers will be providing security.

Live '99 with Lenny Kravitz, The Black Crowes, Everlast and Cree Summer takes place Sunday, May 2, at 6:30 p.m., at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Tickets are $26 and $46. Call (713)629-3700 or (281)363-3300.

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