"I'm not sure that my bio is even applicable to what I'm trying to achieve today” says Lenny Lee, but his background as a successful songwriter and his reputation as an ace studio player has given him the foundation from which to launch his eclectic new album, Box o’ Chocolates.
"Over the years, I would write only a handful of songs at a time. Then I would retreat into a period of self congratulation before venturing out to do overhyped public performances. To me, having a catalogue of songs used to be just another rock & roll accessory, much like a leather jacket or a bitchin' pair of shades. I'd ride the wave, but then wait for the next whirlwind to stir up some inspiration before attempting to go for that next hit. Now, I no longer wait to be inspired. I write all the time because it's who I am and I've learned to thoroughly enjoy the process."
Lenny’s musical roots go back to the early 70’s when he says, “I was sequestered in my bedroom for 10 to 12 hours a day, playing bass along with Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, and Return to Forever records. My Mom and Dad, god bless' em, would occasionally slip me some food under the door.”
Lenny spent 1978 - 81 with the Richie Scarlet Band. "During those years, I learned a lot about rock attitude, fashion and notoriety. Richie and I travelled cross country together, shouting to anyone who would listen that we were from New Yawk, the home of violence, decadence and the World Champion New York Yankees!"
We were well received in California and opened for bands like Martha Davis and the Motels. By the time we got back to New York, word had spread and we were in high demand at clubs like Gildersleeves, where bands like Cyndi Lauper and her Blue Angel would open for us. We in turn would open for the likes of Wendy O. Williams and the Plasmatics, David Johansen, Twisted Sister, etc. I remember one reviewer writing our ‘graceless gyrations made it appear as if we were being manipulated by a demented puppeteer’. I’m sure I still have that clipping somewhere.”
Once Scarlet-mania had run its course and Richie moved on to play with Ace Frehley, Mountain, et al, Lenny Lee became the pulse of the Tommy V Band. Through the early 80’s, the Tommy V Band toured the East Coast with slicked back hair and pompadours, playing black leather rockabilly music. Although fellow New Yorkers, the Stray Cats, would receive most of the national recognition for bringing back the rockabilly sounds of yesteryear, Tommy V and company were regional favorites that continued to fill every hall they played. “We played fast and lived hard”, remembers Lenny, “and at that level of intensity, it was only a matter of time before the band crashed and burned. And we did.”
In the mid 80’s, during the affordable home studio revolution, Lenny jumped on board and grabbed the first 4 track recorder out of the box at his local music store. No longer just a bass player, Lenny got a guitar and some keyboards so that he could start multi-tracking and honing his skills as a song writer. “My strong Beatles, Todd Rundgren and Peter Gabriel influences seeped into my writing, as they tended to be rich, layered productions. Before long, other players were calling on me to produce, engineer and do vocal arrangements for their bands.”
In addition to filling the role of producer, Lenny also continued to play the East Coast circuit with a variety of talented performers such as Jim Haederle, Greg DeBenedetto, and Jim Roberts. One fateful night, Lenny was asked to do a pick-up gig at an Irish pub with wily rock 'n' roll veteran Pat Joe Birney. What followed was a musical partnership that lasted more than a decade.
“With our thin ties and sunglasses at night, we had the Blues Brothers for the nineties look,” Lenny recalls, “Pat and I soon became thick as thieves and called ourselves Fast n’ Loose”. Starting out by covering bands like U2 and Hothouse Flowers, Fast n’ Loose crowded the Irish clubs of the North Bronx, all the while writing and recording the songs that would make up their CD ‘Wolves in Sheep's Clothing’.
Shortly after the release of the CD, the Fast n’ Loose juggernaut ground to a halt. The tenacious Lenny Lee decided to pursue his own musical goals, and he hasn't looked back. Lenny says, “I'm now striving for a measure of success with my music, and at the same time have learned that writing and recording is truly its own reward. Besides my new rock and pop tunes, I've also composed my first orchestral piece, written theme music for short films and a soundtrack for John S. Drew's science-fiction audio drama, ‘The Dome’. I've also done a number of song collaborations with new friends from all over the world via the internet. It’s such an exciting time to be a recording musician! Included on my new album is a little taste of everything. I really hope it will satisfy the cravings of my old fans and maybe earn me some new ones. I hope everyone finds something they like in my Box o’ Chocolates.”