Lenny Kaye is a rarity: both a scholar of and participant in rock and roll history. While working at a New York record store in the early ’70s, he put together the compilation Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965–1968. The album chronicled the American garage rock explosion, helping spread the word on bands like the Electric Prunes, the Seeds, and Austin’s 13th Floor Elevators. Kaye’s liner notes included one of the first uses of the term “punk rock,” and a few years later, the compilation was instrumental in kick starting punk’s revved-up engine.
Living in New York, Kaye saw the punk revolution firsthand. After meeting a young poet named Patti Smith, he started playing guitar with her at CBGB, sharing bills with the Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, and Television. You can hear Kaye’s undying rock and roll faith in his guitar playing. He’s leading the charge on the Patti Smith Group’s “Gloria”–a cover of a garage rock classic–and goading Smith to greater heights on her hit “Because The Night.”
On May 7, Kaye takes the ACL Live stage with Patti Smith. He’s at the Continental Club Gallery the next night for a special solo show that doubles as a release party for Kaye’s new book, Lightning Striking: Ten Transformative Moments In Rock & Roll. The book chronicles one of the enduring truths about rock and roll (and any transformative creative energy): the biggest change comes from the strongest scenes. From Memphis, New Orleans, and New York to Liverpool, London, and Seattle, Kaye tells the story of how rock’s regional roots led to a worldwide movement.
This week on My KUTX, Kaye recounts all this history and more, playing an hour of songs that inspired his book. Along the way, he offers up his view on where the term “rock and roll” was invented, what made Elvis special, how punk got started in New York, and more. Hear Lenny Kaye’s My KUTX on Saturday, April 23 at 6 p.m. or listen anytime in the player above.
- The Boswell Sisters – “Rock And Roll”
- Billy Ward & The Dominoes – “Sixty Minute Man”
- Elvis Presley – “That’s All Right”
- Fats Domino – “Walking To New Orleans”
- The Big Three – “Cavern Stomp”
- Grateful Dead – “Cream Puff War”
- Link Cromwell – “Crazy Like A Fox”
- The Stooges – “1969”
- Startoon – “Rockin’ On The Bowery”
- Generation X – “Your Generation”
- Babymetal – “Gimme Chocolate!!”
- Mudhoney – “Touch Me I’m Sick”
- Nirvana – “All Apologies”
- Patti Smith Group – “So You Want To Be (A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star)”