is an American
freelancing percussionist in the studio recording industry in the Los Angeles
Castro is a percussionist of Puerto Rican descent and was born and raised in New York City
. His father, Hector Castro, played the keyboard in a Latin style and gave his son his first pair of congas when he was five years old. Along with the congas the junior Castro played the bongos, which he grew up performing on the streets. Unlike many of his “Latin brothers”, Castro listened and played percussion not to just Latin music but jazz, rock, classical, and anything else that could have percussion added in. He claims not to have planned on becoming a studio musician, only that he wanted to play music. Whether this meant live or in recordings, he didn’t care as long as he got to play.
Castro later began to make money with different gigs in New York, which he called a “playground” at the time, when he was around 14 or 15. This lasted him until he graduated from high school in 1974.
After graduation Castro went to Mannes college with a scholarship that a high school teacher had helped him to acquire. However, he quickly tired of college and dropped out. He found a job at a famous drum shop in New York where he worked for three or four months.
The Big Break
It was through this store that Castro got a big break with Melissa Manchester
who had a hit at the time, “Midnight Blue”. After Castro did a couple of tours with her, Melissa moved to Los Angeles
. Lenny, 19 at the time, did not want to give up this opportunity and left New York City to follow Melissa and his career.
Her producer later introduced Castro to fellow producer Richard Perry
. Perry then had Lenny play at a Diana Ross
session, which is where he met Jeff Porcaro
. Porcaro got Castro a gig with Boz Scaggs
, who had just released an album called “Silk Degrees”. Boz toured all around the world with Lenny as their percussionist. This huge tour is what landed Castro the Toto
gig and also kick-started his Los Angeles session legacy.
Because he is a freelancer, Castro is called on by many artists and bands to record. He claims to enjoy this freedom, saying that the members of Toto did him a favor by not asking him to join permanently; “I didn’t get handcuffed or chained down” .
The artists and bands that Castro has worked with include Al Jarreau
, Boz Scaggs
, The Mars Volta
, Dolly Parton
, Diana Ross
, Stevie Wonder
, David Sanborn
, Little Feat
, Boney James
, Peter White
, Joe Sample
, Kenny Loggins
, Ricky Lee Jones
, Dan Fogelberg
, The Crusaders
, Barbra Streisand
, Simply Red
, Quincy Jones
, Randy Newman
, Dave Koz
, Olivia Newton-John
, the Red Hot Chili Peppers
, Eric Burdon
, Wayne Shorter
, Pat Benatar
, Dwight Yoakam
, Maroon 5
, as well as many Japanese, Italian, English, German, and various other artists.
In addition to the list above Castro has recorded with the Rolling Stones, Sir Elton John and Fleetwood Mac. His percussion work on the "The Dance" tour in 1997 which kicked off a Fleetwood Mac reunion helped to breath new life into classic tunes such as "The Chain". His percussion solo with Mick Fleetwood as a part of the that tour was not only original but literally breath taking as Mick wore a Hotz vest with pickups in it. Mick and Lenny electrified the audience as they played off each other while performing one of the most original percussion solos seen to date.
Castro was also a part of the Fleetwood Mac contingent that surprised former President Bill Clinton on January 6 2001. Although Christine Mcvie could not attend, the other original members of Fleetwood Mac did. They played an eleven song set which kicked off with the president's campaign song "Don't Stop". Most recently Castro toured with Stevie Nicks in 2007. Nicks brought her usual great game and rocked the house in every city on that tour, and once again Castro energized the audiences throughout the tour with his classic percussion solos.
On his first tour with Boz Scaggs
, Castro courted singer Paulette Brown. They became husband and wife and had two children. Their son, Tyler, plays the drums and their daughter Christina sings and enjoys the culinary arts. Unfortunately Paulette passed away in 1998 of lung cancer, after a three year illness. Castro has since remarried Chie Yamamura from Osaka, Japan
. They were introduced while Castro was touring the Blue Notes in Japan with the Joe Sample Trio.