LENNY "FUZZY" RANKINS

BIO

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Lenny "Fuzzy" Rankins spent the majority of his childhood in Wilmington, Delaware, where, through his church, he was first introduced to singing and playing musical instruments.  He has the opportunity to play with gospel groups, such as the Gospel Ambassadors and the Shield Brothers.  Fuzzy moved to York, Pennsylvania, and continued playing at the church and touring with gospel groups.  At the age of 16, he performed in shows with Shirley CaesarAl GreenFive Blind BoysMighty Clouds of JoyGospel KeynotesJames Cleveland and 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 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 ToneRoy ClarkBasic BlackPatty 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, they 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 performed with blues legends B.B. KingEtta JamesBobby "Blue" Bland and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown as well as artists Luther IngrahamBobby WomackZapp and Roger - and the list goes on.

Fuzzy's first blues CD, Not Gonna Work This Time, was released in 1993.  Good Lovin' followed and, like his first CD, several tracks received airplay on San Diego radio stations (KIFM "Smooth Jazz" 98.1KSDS 88.3KUPR and "Jammin' Z90".  16 of the 17 songs on the CD 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 tracks.

Fuzzy was the featured artist at a special dedication to T-Bone Walker by renowned international artist John DeMarco.  In 1999, Fuzzy was lead guitarist and a stand-in for three of the male lead roles in the award-winning musical production It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues written and produced by the late actor/vocalist Ron Taylor.  The play debuted at the Lyceum Theatre (San Diego Repertory Theatre) and was broadcast on television stations throughout Southern California.  Ultimately, the cast played to audiences in playhouses across the U.S., including on Broadway and in Europe.

Fuzzy has studied and listened to all styles of music, but the style and music of jazz artists George BensonEarl KlughLee Rittenauer and Al DiMeola were especially influential.  Jazz CD Stirring Up TheMix was released under his given name, Lenny Rankins, and featured 10 original compositions written and produced by him.  The music was in airplay rotation on KIFM "Smooth Jazz" 98.1Jazz 88.3KJJZ and others.  Shortly after release, Stirring Up The Mix was nominated in the Best Jazz Album category at the San Diego Music Awards.  Lenny and his band performed various songs from Stirring Up The Mix at 4th & B when he opened for saxophonist Alfonso Blackwell at his concert appearance in San Diego.  Lenny, a frequent featured performer at KIFM events, was a featured artist at many of the KIFM Smooth Jazz Festivals.

Fuzzy has played backup guitar and helped many artists throughout his career, such as Ike TurnerJeanette HarrisMindy AbairWayne 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 Peabo BrysonAl GreenMontel Jordan and others.

In Spring 2007, Fuzzy was featured and received Grammy recognition on Ike Turner's Grammy award winning Best Traditional Blues recording Risin' With The Blues. Fuzzy plays lead guitar on the track Ike named JazzyFuzzy.

Fuzzy is also a talented producer.  He has played guitar, done voiceover work, provided sound effects and composed and produced music on video games, such as Ready to RumbleSpy HunterFirebladeFreaky FlyersHydro Thunder and Gravity Games.

Lenny has been an endorsed artist of Connolly and Co., a leading U.S. distributor and partner of Thomastik-Infeld, since April 2002.  Connolly 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 expanded its website to include professional information in support of its endorsed artists.

In 2002, Lenny expanded his production company and formed MoonCook Productions with his business manager, Cheryl Peters.  10 artists (R&B, jazz, blues, hip-hop, rap and gospel) were under contract and worked on their individual solo projects, all produced by Fuzzy.  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 Rhythms music video show.

Lenny "Fuzzy" Rankins is a dynamic stage presence who captures audiences of all ages.  His musical talent has gained him the recognition and respect of fellow musicians and his fans.

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UPCOMING GIGS

  • Feb 19
    Humphreys Backstage Lounge,  San Diego
     
  • Feb 23
    Prohibition Lounge,  San Diego
     
  • Feb 25
    San Diego Kuumba Fest (Trust & Respect) at San Diego Repertory Theatre,  San Diego
     
  • Mar 6
    Humphrey's Backstage Lounge,  San Diego
     
  • Mar 7
    2018 Spring Harp Fest Benefit at Tio Leo's,  San Diego