FuzzyRankins Creative Page
LENNY “FUZZY” RANKINS
Blues and Jazz Artist
Grammy Award Winner
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Lenny Rankins (known as “Fuzzy”) spent the majority of his childhood in Wilmington, Delaware, where, through his church, he was first introduced to singing and playing musical instruments. He had the opportunity to play with various gospel groups, such as the Gospel Ambassadors and the Shield Brothers. Fuzzy moved to York, Pennsylvania, where he continued playing at the church and touring with gospel groups. At the age of 16, he performed in shows with Shirley Caesar, Al Green, Five Blind Boys, Mighty Clouds of Joy, Gospel Keynotes, James Cleveland, and many others.
At the age of 19, Fuzzy formed his own gospel group called God’s Angels based in York, Pennsylvania, recording, traveling and performing on the East Coast. He eventually expanded his music and organized an R&B group called the 14 Karat Band that toured and performed with major R&B artists, such as Tone Tone, Roy Clark, Basic Black, Patty Labelle, and Gerald Levert.
Fuzzy moved to California in 1990 to further pursue his musical career. He met blues and jazz performer Fro Brigham (formerly associated with Louis Armstrong). Fuzzy began playing guitar with Fro’s group and discovered the diversity of the blues. In 1992, he formed his own blues band, Fuzzy and the Bluesmen, which became very popular in the Southern California area. In 1993, Fuzzy and the Bluesmen was presented with the Jim Croce Blues Award. That same year, the group received the “Best Blues” music award. Fuzzy and the Bluesmen made several television appearances, including the Jerry Lewis Telethon show. The group has been featured at the Orange County/Newport Beach Blues Festival (1996), and many other blues festivals, and has performed with blues legends B.B. King, Etta James, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, as well as artists Luther Ingraham, Bobby Womack, Zapp and Roger – and the list goes on.
Fuzzy recorded his first blues CD, Not Gonna Work This Time, in 1993. His second blues CD, Good Lovin’, was first released on August 17, 1996. Like his first CD, several cuts from Good Lovin’ received airplay on San Diego radio stations (KIFM - Smooth Jazz 98.1, KSDS [88.3], KUPR, and JAMMIN’ Z90” [90.3]),. Of the 17 cuts on the CD, 16 songs were written, produced and arranged by Fuzzy, who is adept at playing not only the guitar but also bass, keyboards and drums. The band provided backup on 7 cuts. By popular demand, the CD has been re-pressed for distribution multiple times. His newest blues CD, Take A Brotha Home, will be released in June 2010.
In 1996, Fuzzy was the featured artist at a special dedication to T-Bone Walker by renowned international artist John DeMarco. Special mention of Fuzzy in connection with the dedication was published in “San Diego Magazine” in its August 1996 issue. In 1999, Fuzzy was called to audition as the lead guitarist (and stand-in for three of the male leads) in what became the award-winning musical production of It Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues. The play, written and produced by actor/vocalist Ron Taylor, debuted at the Lyceum Theater where it was held over for an additional two weeks due to its popularity. The play was aired on television throughout Southern California, and the cast ultimately played to audiences on Broadway, across the U.S. and in Europe.
Fuzzy has studied and listened to all styles of music, but the style and music of jazz artists George Benson, Earl Klugh, Lee Rittenauer and Al DiMeola especially influenced him. In 2001, jazz CD Stirring Up The Mix was released under his given name, Lenny Rankins, featuring 10 original compositions written and produced by him. The music received airplay on Smooth Jazz 98.1 (KIFM radio), Jazz 88.3, KJJZ, and others. Shortly after its release, Stirring Up The Mix was nominated in the Best Jazz Album category at the Music Awards. Lenny and his band performed various songs from Stirring Up The Mix at 4th & B when he opened for saxophonist Alfonzo Blackwell at his concert appearance in San Diego. Lenny, a frequent featured performer at KIFM events, was a featured artist at the KIFM Smooth Jazz Festival along with many other artists. Lenny is now working on his second jazz album. Featured artists on the new project include saxophone players Jeanette Harris, Reggie Smith, Peter Ortega and Eric Jackson. A select number of songs of various artists have been remixed and will be included on this new project.
In addition to working on his own music projects, Fuzzy has played backup guitar and helped many artists throughout his career, such as Ike Turner, Jeanette Harris, Mindy Abair, Wayne Holmes (George Duke’s engineer), saxophonist George Howard, pop artist Jewel, and gospel artist Tonex. Fuzzy continues to do session work with various artists in the studio. Fuzzy also did session work with producer David Kershenbaum for the Color Me Badd album featuring artists Peabo Bryson, Al Greene, Montel Jordan, and others.
Because of his expertise as a musician, artists avail themselves of Fuzzy’s talent as a producer. He has played guitar, done voiceover work, provided sound effects and composed and produced music on video games, such as Ready to Rumble, Spy Hunter, Fireblade, Freaky Flyers, Hydro Thunder, Gravity Games, and many others.
Lenny has been an endorsed artist of Connolly and Co., a leading U.S. distributor and partner of Thomastik-Infeld, since April 2002. Connolly and Co. exclusively imports and distributes Thomastik-Infeld’s highly acclaimed line of strings and accessories for bowed and fretted instruments (www.connollyandco.com). The company has recently expanded its website to include professional information in support of its endorsed artists.
In 2002, Lenny expanded his production company and formed MoonCook Productions, under which 10 artists (R&B, jazz, blues, hip-hop, rap, and gospel) were under contract and worked on their individual solo projects. A compilation CD featuring all 10 artists was showcased and released in December 2003. In addition to composing and producing their albums, Fuzzy produced music videos for each of the artists that were aired nationwide on the Rhythms music video show. He is now preparing to film one of three movie scripts he has written. He plans on submitting the film to various film festivals.
In spring 2007, Fuzzy was featured on Ike Turner’s Grammy award winning Best Traditional Blues recording “Risin’ With the Blues.” He plays lead guitar on the track Ike named “Jazzy Fuzzy.”
Lenny Rankins (“Fuzzy”) has a dynamic stage presence that captures audiences of all ages. His musical talent has gained him the recognition and respect of fellow musicians as well as his fans. Audiences of all ages are mesmerized by Fuzzy’s guitar playing. He is particularly adept at “reading” the crowd and delivering just the right sound. A true performer, Lenny’s style incorporates his gospel, R&B, blues and jazz background and guarantees audiences a night of enjoyment and professional entertainment.
For Booking Information:
MoonCook Productions, Inc.
Cheryl Peters, Manager/Artist Development
619.221.2922 or 619.917.5227
An EPK is available upon request.
Audio and/or video clips are also available at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/fuzzymusic, http://www.facebook.com/people/Lenny-Rankins/1330787225, or http://www.videolatte.com/video/Lenny_Rankins_Black_Cat_Bone
Updated: September 21, 2010
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