Music has always been a family act for Lenny Goldsmith, a local singer-turned-real estate agent who spent years playing in notable bands like Tower of Power.
“It was a family thing. My dad played the violin and the guitar,” Goldsmith said, noting Hank Williams among his family’s country music influences while growing up in San Jose, Calif.
With music in his blood, Goldsmith built up his chops in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s while singing for groups like Five Americans, Sweathog and Tower of Power, even opening for The Who and Joe Crawford along the way.
“It was very exciting and it was instant recognition. You walk into the room as the lead singer of Tower of Power and you draw attention,” Goldsmith said.
He began his music career in the 1960s with Five Americans. The band became best known for its hit “Western Union,” which reached No. 5 on the Billboard chart.
Next, Goldsmith formed Sweathog with a childhood friend, which would also garner him commercial success.
“I grew up with [Sweathog drummer Barry Smith]. We went all the way back to the 4th grade,” Goldsmith said.
Clive Davis signed Sweathog to a deal for 10 records in September of 1969. Touring behind acts such as Black Sabbath, Sweathog produced the single “Hallelujah.” The song charted at No. 33 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972.
Sweathog broke up in 1973, leading Goldsmith to do work on solo projects, spend a brief stint with the group Stoneground, and later perform with Tower of Power, which needed a new lead singer.
And even though he took a 25-year break from music after leaving Tower of Power in the ‘80s, Goldsmith’s musical roots were not lost on his sons. Two of them are now part of the American folk rock group Dawes, which has found great commercial success in recent years.
Goldsmith has been a fulltime Malibu resident for about 20 years. He said he chose Malibu because of the weather, the ocean view and the people.
“The people who live here full time…they’re real and they’re colorful. I think it’s a creative place,” he said.
After arriving in Malibu, Goldsmith took on a new career: real estate. He received his real estate license at age 54. Now at age 72, he works for Pritchett-Rapf and has a new franchise in the works called Pinnacle Estate Property.
“[Real estate] is a lot like showbiz,” Goldsmith said. “You have to have a personality. And, I love architecture. It’s a perfect retirement job.”
Despite his real estate endeavors, Goldsmith’s musical talents became the foundation for his family, as he passed on his musical legacy to his kids Taylor, Blake and Griffin. With the band Dawes, Taylor and Griffin released their first album in 2009.
“I’m beyond proud. It’s especially special to have two sons that are doing not only what they love, but that they’re really good at it because they work hard at it. Their work ethic is incredible,” Goldsmith said.
Inspired by his sons’ success, the senior Goldsmith got the urge to jump back into music with a solo record after a 25-year hiatus. Together with his sons, he recorded new material last year on “The New Old – EP.”
“I wanted to get back to what I love to do most, and that’s make music and share it,” Goldsmith said.
With a solo record coming to fruition, his sons have continued making him proud. Taylor Goldsmith was recently asked to join Marcus Mumford, Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens and Jim James to help complete the music for “Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes,” a compilation of recently discovered lyrics written by Bob Dylan.
Goldsmith didn’t stop at the EP, though. He’s back in the performance world, too.
He has a string of summer performances booked including: June 14 at Casa Escobar from 8:30- 11:30 p.m., June 21 at the Malibu Bank of Books at 7:00 p.m. and July 19 at the Jewish Center for the “Malibu Rocks” event.