Peter Gene Hernandez (born October 8, 1985), known by his stage name Bruno Mars, is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, musician, voice actor, and choreographer. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, by a family of musicians, Mars began making music at a young age and performed in various musical venues in his hometown throughout his childhood. He graduated from high school and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a musical career. Mars produced songs for other artists, co-founding production team The Smeezingtons.
Mars had an unsuccessful stint with Motown Records, but then signed with Atlantic in 2009. He became recognized as a solo artist after lending his vocals to the songs "Nothin' on You" by B.o.B, and "Billionaire" by Travie McCoy, which were worldwide successes, and for which he co-wrote the hooks. Mars' production formula allowed him, and his production team, to work with an assortment of artists from various genres.
His debut studio album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, released in 2010, peaked at number three on the Billboard 200, anchored by the worldwide number-one singles "Just the Way You Are" and "Grenade", as well as by the single "The Lazy Song". The album was nominated for seven Grammy Awards, winning Best Pop Vocal Performance for "Just The Way You Are". His second album, Unorthodox Jukebox, released in 2012, peaked at number one in the United States, UK and other international markets. It won Best Pop Vocal Album at the Grammy Awards. The album spawned the international singles "Locked Out of Heaven", "When I Was Your Man" and "Treasure".
Throughout a singing career spanning 4 years, he has won 2 Grammy Awards and sold over 10 million albums worldwide and 68 milion singles sold. Four of his singles are counted amongst the best-selling singles of all time. Mars is now regarded as one of the most successful solo artists in all over the world, landing 5 number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 ever since his career launched in 2010, faster than any male singer since Elvis Presley. In 2011, Mars was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world. In 2014, he was ranked number one on the Forbes 30 under 30 list.
Mars is known for his stage performances and retro showmanship, that usually include playing a variety of instruments such as electric guitar, piano, keyboards and drums, dancing and performing a wild range of musical styles, including reggae, soul and funk music.
Life and career
1985–2003: Early life and musical beginnings
Bruno Mars was born Peter Gene Hernandez on October 8, 1985, in Honolulu, Hawaii, and was raised in the Waikiki neighborhood of Honolulu. He is the son of Peter Hernandez and Bernadette "Bernie" San Pedro Bayot (b. August 14, 1957, Manila, d. June 1, 2013, Honolulu). His father is of half Puerto Rican and half Ashkenazi Jewish descent, and is originally from Brooklyn, New York. Mars' mother immigrated to Hawaii from the Philippines as a child, and was of Filipino descent. His parents met while performing in a show, where his mother was a hula dancer and his father played percussion. At the age of two, he was nicknamed "Bruno" by his father, because of his resemblance to legendary professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino.
Mars is one of six children and came from a musical family who exposed him to a diverse mix of reggae, rock, hip hop, and R&B. In addition to being a dancer, his mother was a singer and his father used his musical ability to perform Little Richard rock and roll music. Mars' uncle was an Elvis impersonator, and encouraged three-year-old Mars to perform on stage as well. Mars also performed songs by artists such as Michael Jackson, The Isley Brothers, and The Temptations. At age four, Mars began performing five days a week with his family's band, The Love Notes, in which he became known on the island for his impersonation of Presley. In 1990, Mars was featured in MidWeek as "Little Elvis", going on to have a cameo in the film Honeymoon in Vegas in 1992.
His time spent impersonating Presley had a major impact on Mars' musical evolution and performing techniques. He later began playing guitar after drawing inspiration from Jimi Hendrix. In 2010, he also acknowledged his Hawaiian roots and musical family as an influence, explaining, "Growing up in Hawaii made me the man I am. I used to do a lot of shows in Hawaii with my father's band. Everybody in my family sings, everyone plays instruments...I've just been surrounded by it." When he attended at President Theodore Roosevelt High School he performed in a group called The School Boys. In 2003, shortly after graduating from President Theodore Roosevelt High School at the age of 17, Mars moved to Los Angeles, California, to pursue a musical career. He adopted his stage name from the nickname his father gave him, adding "Mars" at the end because "I felt like I didn't have [any] pizzazz, and a lot of girls say I’m out of this world, so I was like I guess I'm from Mars."
2004–10: Production work and It's Better If You Don't Understand
Shortly after moving to Los Angeles, Mars signed to Motown Records in 2004, in a deal that "went nowhere". However, Mars' experience with Motown proved to be beneficial to his career when he met songwriter and producer Philip Lawrence, who was also signed to the label. After Mars was dropped by Universal Motown, less than a year of being signed, he stayed in Los Angeles and landed a music publishing deal in 2005 with Steve Lindsey and Cameron Strang at Westside Independent.
During Mars' career beginnings, Lindsey, who showed Jeff Bhasker and Mars the ins and outs of writing pop music, acted as a mentor to Mars and helped him to hone his craft. Bhasker, who had met Mars through Mike Lynn (the A&R at Dr Dre's Aftermath Entertainment who first heard Mars' demo tape through his sister and flew him to LA), explained: "He’d mentor us, and kind of give us lectures as to what a hit pop song is, because you can have talent and music ability, but understanding what makes a hit pop song is a whole other discipline." Steve Lindsey was responsible for "[holding] Bruno Mars back for five years while they learned an extensive catalog of hit music."
When Lawrence was first told he should meet Mars he was reluctant to do so, since he didn't even have money for bus fare. Keith Harris, drummer for The Black Eyed Peas, told him, "Whatever it costs you to get out here, I’ll reimburse you." Lawrence responded, "Just give me five dollars back for the bus." The pair began collaborating, writing songs for Mars, but they received many rejections from labels. On the verge of giving up, they received a call from Brandon Creed, then seeking songs for a reunited Menudo. He liked their song "Lost", which was written for Mars. The duo didn't want to give the song away, but when they were offered $20,000 for the song they agreed. The sale of this song allowed them to continue working, and Mars and Lawrence decided that they would write and produce songs together for other artists.
In 2006, Lawrence introduced Mars to his future A&R manager at Atlantic Records, Aaron Bay-Schuck. After hearing him play a couple of songs on the guitar, Bay-Schuck wanted to sign him immediately, but it took about three years for Atlantic records to finally sign Mars to the label, because Atlantic felt that it was too early and that Mars still needed development as an artist.
Before becoming a successful solo artist, Mars was an acknowledged music producer, writing songs for Alexandra Burke, Travie McCoy, Adam Levine, Brandy, Sean Kingston, and Flo Rida. He also co-wrote the Sugababes' hit song "Get Sexy" and provided backing vocals on their album Sweet 7. His first musical appearance as a singer was in Far East Movement's second studio album Animal, featured on the track "3D". He was also featured on pastor and hip hop artist Jaeson Ma's debut single "Love" in August 2009. He reached prominence as a solo artist after being featured on and co-writing B.o.B's "Nothin' on You" and Travie McCoy's "Billionaire"; both songs peaked within the top ten of many charts worldwide. He said of them, "I think those songs weren't meant to be full-sung songs. If I'd sung all of "Nothin' on You", it might've sounded like some '90s R&B." Following this success, Mars released his debut extended play (EP), titled It's Better If You Don't Understand, on May 11, 2010. The EP peaked at the 99th position on the Billboard 200 and produced one single, "The Other Side", featuring singers Cee Lo Green and B.o.B. Mars collaborated with Green once more in August 2010 by co-writing his single "Fuck You". He performed a medley of "Nothin' on You" and "Airplanes" with B.o.B and Hayley Williams at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards on September 12, 2010.
2010–12: Doo-Wops & Hooligans
Mars' debut album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, was released digitally on October 4, and saw its physical release on October 5, 2010. The lead single, "Just the Way You Are", was released on July 19, 2010, and has reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 as well as several other charts worldwide. The music video was released on September 8, 2010. The second single, "Grenade", was released September 28, 2010, and has also seen successful international chart performance. In the United States, Doo-Wops & Hooligans debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 for the week of October 13, 2010, selling 55,000 copies. The album also received generally positive reviews from critics. Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt praised Mars for his "instant-access melodies" and "sly snatches of dance-floor swagger", but noted weaknesses in songs deviant from his conventional pop and soul genres. He opened for Maroon 5 on the fall leg of the Hands All Over Tour starting October 6, 2010 and co-headlined with McCoy on a European tour starting October 18, 2010.
On September 19, 2010, Mars was arrested in Las Vegas for possession of cocaine. When talking to a police officer, Mars reportedly stated that what he did was "foolish" and that "he has never used drugs before". Mars pled guilty to felony drug possession, and in return for his plea, he was told that the charges would be erased from his criminal record as long as he stayed out of trouble for a year, paid a $2,000 fine, did 200 hours of community service and completed a drug counseling course.
On February 13, 2011, Mars won his first Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, having received six nominations; Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Nothin' on You", Record of the Year for "Nothin' on You" and "Fuck You", Song of the Year for "Fuck You", and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical at the 53rd Grammy Awards. In the same year, Mars turned down multiple offers to open for famous pop artists on arena tours, deciding to tour alongside Janelle Monáe. The "move" limited his earnings in the short term, but the goal was to build a fan base by “underplaying”—deliberately performing gigs at smaller, more intimate venues.
On September 16, 2011, Bad Meets Evil released their single, "Lighters", which featured Mars in the song. The song was met with mixed reviews from critics and many criticized Mars for doing this type of song. On September 22, 2011, it was announced on Mars' website that his new song "It Will Rain" will appear on The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack which was released on November 8. On October 30, 2011, Mars gave an exclusive performance of "Runaway Baby" on the results show of The X Factor UK, the same day that Mars received six nominations for a Grammy Award; Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album for Doo-Wops & Hooligans, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance for "Grenade", and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical at the 54th Grammy Awards. During the ceremony, Mars performed "Runaway Baby" but he did not win any awards as Adele won in all the categories he was nominated in and also lost to Paul Epworth for Producer of the Year.
2012–present: Unorthodox Jukebox and Super Bowl XLVIII Halftime Show
On March 22, 2012, it was announced that Mars had signed a worldwide publishing deal with BMG Chrysalis US. Mars announced that the lead single from his upcoming album would be called "Locked Out of Heaven", which was released on October 1, 2012. On December 11, 2012, Mars released his second studio album, Unorthodox Jukebox. Along with announcing the album title and lead single, Mars announced the other 9 songs of the album. He noted that the album would be more musically varied and refuses to "pick a lane", explaining that "I listen to a lot of music, and I want to have the freedom and luxury to walk into a studio and say, 'Today I want to do a hip-hop, R&B, soul or rock record.'"
In the United States, the album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 with sales of 187,000. The album also charted number one album in Switzerland and in United Kingdom. It was the fastest selling album by a solo artist in 2012. The lead single from the album, "Locked Out of Heaven", has reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 and Canada and the top ten in several countries worldwide. The album's second single, "When I Was Your Man", has reached the top ten of fifteen countries, including number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
In February 2013, Mars was nominated for Best Rap Song at the 55th Grammy Awards, as producer and writer of "Young, Wild & Free", however he lost to "Niggas in Paris". During the ceremony, he performed with Sting, Rihanna, Ziggy Marley and Damian Marley in a tribute to Bob Marley.
The third single "Treasure" reached the top five spot in US and had less commercial success worldwide than the previous two. On May 24, 2013, Major Lazer released "Bubble Butt" as the fourth single from their album Free the Universe which featured Tyga, Mystic and Mars on the vocals, becoming Major Lazer's most successful single to date. Mars unveiled the next single, "Gorilla", which was only able to peak at No.22 on Hot 100 and was unsuccessful worldwide, from Unorthodox Jukebox on August 25, 2013 at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. On September 25, Mars was announced to perform eight shows at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas between December 2013 and August 2014.
On January 26, 2014, Mars won the award of Best Pop Vocal Album for Unorthodox Jukebox at the 56th Grammy Awards, a week later, he headlined the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show and was joined by The Red Hot Chili Peppers as a musical guest on the platform. Making him the first Super Bowl halftime lead performer under 30 and of Puerto Rican descent. The show ended up being the most watched Super Bowl halftime show in the history of the Super Bowl, drawing record ratings of 115.3 million viewers, passing the record 114 million, previously held by Madonna, who performed two years earlier.
Mars' time spent impersonating Elvis Presley as a child had a major impact on his musical evolution; he later reflected: "I watch the best. I'm a big fan of Elvis. I'm a big fan of 1950s Elvis when he would go on stage and scare people because he was a force and girls would go nuts! You can say the same thing for Prince or The Police. It's just guys who know that people are here to see a show, so I watch those guys and I love studying them because I'm a fan."
He also impersonated Michael Jackson and Little Richard who played a lead role as his influences. Mars was initially influenced by R&B artists such as Keith Sweat, Jodeci and R. Kelly, as well as 1950s rock 'n' roll and Motown. In high school, he began listening to classic rock groups such as The Police, Led Zeppelin, and the Beatles. All of these genres of music have influenced Mars' musical style; he observed that "It's not easy to [create] songs with that mixture of rock and soul and hip-hop, and there's only a handful of them." The local bands are heavily influenced by Bob Marley. Mars also stated that he is a fan of Alicia Keys, Jessie J, Jack White, The Saturdays and Kings of Leon.
Voice and music
An 18-second sample of the chorus of "Grenade".
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Mars possesses a three octave tenor vocal range. Jim Farber of New York Daily News praised his voice by saying that "has the purity, cream and range of mid-period Michael Jackson, right before the fall. Like the King of Pop, Mars pines for the prerock-era role of the pure entertainer, a classic song-and-dance man." Jon Caramanica of The New York Times called him "one of the most versatile and accessible singers in pop, with a light, soul-influenced voice that's an easy fit in a range of styles, a universal donor."
Mars' music has been noted for displaying a wide variety of styles, musical genres and influences, including pop, rock,reggae,R&B,soul, and hip hop. His co-producer Philip Lawrence says, "What people don't know is there's a darker underbelly to Bruno Mars." Mars himself says, "I blame that on me singing to girls back in high school." In addition, Mars claims that his work with other artists influenced his musical style, saying that "'Nothin' on You' had a Motown vibe, 'Billionaire' was a reggae acoustic guitar-driven song, though one of my favorites is the Cee-Lo Green song. I don't think anyone else could've sung that song. And there's 'Just the Way You Are.' If you know my story, you know I love all different genres of music." He cites doo-wop as a major influence on his music, referring to the genre as "just straightforward love songs – so charming and simple and romantic." In addition, Mars states that growing up in Hawaii influenced his music, giving the songs a reggae sound. He explains that "In Hawaii some of the biggest radio stations are reggae. That music brings people together. It's not urban music or pop music. It's just songs. That's what makes it cross over so well. The song comes first."
Lyrically, many of Mars' songs have been described as "feel-good", carefree, and optimistic, however, darker subjects are addressed in songs such as "Grenade", "Liquor Store Blues", and "Talking to the Moon", which detail failed relationships and self-destructive behavior. In his second album, Mars showed a whole new different lyrical style, going into a more sexual direction that led to a Prince comparison. Songs like "Gorilla" caused him a serious controversy due to the explicit content.
Mars is known for his retro showmanship that is widely acclaimed by tour critics and reviewers. Journalist Monique from Mirrors Magazine says that "the showmanship on Bruno’s stage was like none other that I’ve ever seen" comparing him to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. He is, most of the time, accompanied by The Hooligans, a band that includes musicians from guitarists, to bassists, drummers, keyboardists, and horn players. They also serve as dancers and background singers. His shows feature choreographed dancing arrangements, heavily influenced by the disco era. In addition, long, mellow and soft interludes that echoe the smooth R&B style, hugely famous during the 90s, is an important part of Mars' shows.
Mars is also known for his "fancy, slick and fantastic" footwork that is inspired by James Brown, all-band choreography and splits.
Rolling Stone magazine placed Mars at number 35 on their list of "50 Best Live Acts Right Now"; he's the youngest act besides Janelle Monàe and Lady Gaga to enter the list. They wrote: "Anyone from the age of 5 to 95 can walk out of a Bruno Mars concert feeling like the show was designed just for them. Mars walks the old-school walk (occasionally in James Brown's funky shoes) and talks the sexy talk, but he also nails the hits, leads a super-energetic nine-piece soul band, and rips a mean drum solo", praising the "spectacular version" of "Gorilla" that he performs live.
Jason Lipshutz from Billboard said that "Mars' lifeblood is entertaining and keeping smiles plastered on the faces of his onlookers, and he does a better job at it than almost anyone working in music right now." Co-manager, Brandon Creed, says that because Mars had "poured himself into his songwriting, then singing and recording the songs, they flow through his veins-it's his pulse. That's what people want: a connection with someone speaking the words they wish they could say. And on the other side, Bruno and the band are having a blast onstage, so you can't not have a good time. It's an infectious environment, the show you can't miss." Philip Lawrence said that "It harkens back to Earth, Wind & Fire and Michael Jackson when people came to a show and got a show".NFL's Sarah Moll and Tracy Perlman realized when they saw the Moonshine Jungle tour several times this summer. "If you go to his concerts, it's 11-year-old girls to 65-year-old women-it's everyone".
The Hooligans – Band members
In 2011, Mars made the Time 100 list, B.o.B wrote "He has a musicality, a presence in his voice that I've never heard from anyone else...When he performs live, nothing is prerecorded or fudged. It's a straight-up, classic performance. That's so rare these days."
Mars' work has influenced numerous artists including Bridgit Mendler,Britney Spears,Katy Perry,Leona Lewis,Jonas Brothers and Selena Gomez.
Due to the huge tickets reselling activities that occurred during the week after the Super Bowl, and in order to limit that kind of profiteering, Hawaii Senate President Donna Mercado Kim introduced Senate Resolution 12 yesterday, also known as the “Bruno Mars Act”. The “Bruno Mars Act” limits all ticket purchases within 48 hours of the on-sale to the physical box office. It ensures that anyone who comes all the way to the box office to buy tickets for their favorite should would almost certainly be guaranteed to leave with a ticket in hand, dissuade ticket scalping. The State Senate in Hawaii passed the law.
Awards and accolades
Bruno Mars has earned numerous awards and honors throughout his career. He has sold 10 million albums and 58 million singles worldwide as a singer. Bruno Mars has won two Grammy Award in the category of Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Just the Way You Are" at the 53rd Grammy Awards and Best Pop Vocal Album for "Unorthodox Jukebox" at the 56th Grammy Awards. Besides multiple nominations, achieving a total of 18, he had seven nominations at the 53rd Grammy Awards. He won Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist at the American Music Award in 2012. Mars also won two Brit Awards for International Male Solo Artist at the 2012 BRIT Awards and at the 2014 BRIT Awards.
- Mars is the first male artist to place two titles as a lead act in the Hot 100's top 10 simultaneously.
- Bruno Mars and Adele are the only artists to ever have a number-one song that only featured piano and vocals.
- He spawned five number one singles in the US; the only male who has reached five leaders more quickly than Bruno Mars was Elvis Presley.
- "Locked Out of Heaven" made its career-opening streak the longest among male artists in the chart's history.
- Mars is tied Rihanna for the most top five entries in Hot 100.
- "Just the Way You Are" holds the record of the longest-reigning debut format, it spent 20 weeks atop Adult Contemporary.
- "Just the Way You Are" and "Grenade" are two of the most sold singles digitally of all time worldwide, with sales of 12.5 million and 10.2 million, respectively.
- Amazon.co.uk named Bruno Mars as the 12th best selling digital artist along with Queen, however the latter share that position for best physical sales.
- Mars becomes the first male artist to top the 4 million mark in digital sales with four different songs as lead singer.
- He has sold over 130 million records worldwide as a singer, producer and songwriter.
- Bruno Mars has the highest total, among solo male artists, number one songs on Hot 100 Airplay.
- Bruno Mars was the most played artist at pop radio in 2013 according to Mediabase
- Bruno Mars became the first solo man whose first 13 Top 40 hits all reached the Top 10 of American Top 40.
On May 12, 2013 Mars tweeted a picture of himself using an electronic cigarette. On May 30, 2013 a press release was published reporting Mars investment in the NJOY Electronic Cigarette Company, "in order to quit smoking for his mother", since the singer "believes in the product and the company's mission".
Mars decided to invest in Chromatik, which makes digital versions of sheet music for the web and iPad. Mars said "I love that Chromatik will bring better music education into schools", he added "And I'm happy to be a part of it".
In 2014, Bruno Mars teamed up with three partners to launch the "Selvarey Rum" brand which includes Selvarey White, made of blended three and five-year aged Panamanian rums and the aged "natural cacao rum" Selvarey Cacao.
On February 26, It was announced that Mars had partnered with the Hawai'i Community Foundation and the GRAMMY Foundation to establish a GRAMMY Camp Scolarship Fund, in order to support the next generation of music makers with fund to provide financial assistance for qualified needs-based applicants from Hawai'i.
Mars' donated 100,000 dollars to the kids of Bantay Bata, who were among the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, in order to bring back the esteem and morale of the orphans who lost their families and homes. Bruno Mars will perform at the Make It Right gala, whose campaign gold is to "help build homes for people in need". Mars is also set to perform at the Robin Hood Foundation's annual benefit in New York, which gold is to "fight poverty in New York City by supporting more than 200 nonprofits with financial and technical assistance".
Billboard ranked Bruno Mars as the 12th richest musician of 2013, with earnings of $18,839,681. The list takes into consideration touring, recorded- music sales, publishing royalties and revenue from digital music and video streaming in US.
Statements on racism
In the cover story for EW Mars stated that the song "Nothin' on You" was rejected because of his race by a "music industry decision-maker – a guy he won't name". That experience made him feel like a "mutant", and he says that was his lowest point. "Even with that song in my back pocket to seal the deal, things like that are coming out of people's mouths. It made me feel like I wasn't even in the room."
Tyler, The Creator
In the song "Yonkers", Tyler disses numerous artists, including Bruno Mars. Tyler, The Creator also disses Mars in The Game's song "Martians vs. Goblins", in which he and Lil Wayne are featured artists. Bruno Mars, in response to the verse "stab Bruno Mars in his goddamn esophagus," said, "[Tyler] has to wait in line if he wants to stab me...[Tyler's] definitely not the first guy that's said something like that to me and he's not going to be the last."
- Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010)
- Unorthodox Jukebox (2012)
|1992||Honeymoon in Vegas||Little Elvis||as Himself|
|2014||Rio 2||Roberto (voice)|
|2010||Saturday Night Live||Himself (musical guest)||Episode: "Jane Lynch/Bruno Mars"|
|2012||The Cleveland Show||Himself (voice)||Episode: "Menace II Secret Society"|
|2012||Saturday Night Live||Himself (host/musical guest)||Episode: "Bruno Mars"|
Tours and residency shows
- List of Filipinos
- List of Puerto Ricans
- History of the Jews in Puerto Rico
- on Twitter
- at the Internet Movie Database