Bruno Mars (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Peter Gene Hernandez (born October 8, 1985), known by his stage name Bruno Mars, is an American singer-songwriter and record producer. 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, joining 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 hits, and for which he co-wrote the hooks. He also co-wrote the hits "Right Round" by Flo Rida featuring Ke$ha, and "Wavin' Flag" by K'naan, allowing him to work with an assortment of artists from various genres. Mars' debut studio album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010) peaked at number three on the Billboard 200, anchored by the worldwide number-one singles "Just the Way You Are", "Grenade" and the hit 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 (2012), peaked at number one in the United States. The album spawned the international hit singles "Locked Out of Heaven", "When I Was Your Man" and the moderate hit success "Treasure". In addition to his solo music, Bruno has collaborated with numerous other artists, notably being featured on the worldwide hits "Lighters" (with Bad Meets Evil) and "Young, Wild & Free" (with Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa).
Mars' work has earned him numerous awards and accolades, including a Grammy Award, an American Music Award, a Billboard Music Award and a BRIT Award. Since the beginning of his career as a singer, in 2010, Mars has sold 10 million albums
and 58 million singles worldwide. Although as a songwriter, producer and singer, his total single download sales surpass 115 million worldwide.
He has achieved a total of five number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and six top ten singles, including first place with "Just the Way You Are", which sold 12.5 million copies and contributed to Mars becoming the best-selling digital artist in 2011.
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 (died June 1, 2013). His father is of half Puerto Rican and half Jewish (from Hungary and Ukraine) descent, and is originally from Brooklyn, New York. Mars' mother immigrated to Hawaii from the Philippines as a child, and was of Filipino, and some Spanish, 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 n 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." 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 Bruno 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 Bruno's career beginnings, Steve Lindsey, who showed Bhasker and Mars the ins and outs of writing pop music, acted as a mentor to Bruno and helped him to hone his craft. Jeff Bhasker, who had met Bruno through Mike Lynn (the A&R at Dr Dre's Aftermath Entertainment who first heard Bruno's demo tape through his sister and flew him to LA), noted to American Songwriter that: "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 "held(ing) Bruno Mars back for five years while they learned an extensive catalog of hit music".
When Philip was first asked to meet Bruno he was reluctant to do so, since it would cost him everything he had to go there "Whatever it costs you to get out here, I"ll reimburse you.", said Keith Harris. So Philip said, "Just give me five dollars back for the bus." They started working together, writing songs for Bruno but all the labels close the doors for them. This made them think they were not good enough and they were considering moving back to their home towns. However, in the same week, they got a call from Brandon Creed (Mars' manager) who was A&Ring a reunited Menudo who needed songs. He liked their song "Lost" that was written for Bruno. The duo didn't want to give the song away, but when they were offered $20,000 for the song, they were so supresided that they said "You can have that one and whatever else you need!"
It was that call that saved them, allowing them to stay in LA a little bit longer. At this point, Bruno and Philip 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 Bruno still needed development as an artist.
Brandon Creed became Mars manager after dropping his work as A&R for Epic, although he admits "[I] wasn"t 100% sure the artist thing was going to be a go," he edend up by seeing enough potential to leave the label and become Mars" manager.
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.
2010-2012: Doo-Wops & Hooligans
Bruno 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 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.
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
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, entitled 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, he became the fastest selling album by a recording 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. The third single "Treasure" reached the top five spot in US and had less commercial success worldwide than the previous.
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.
Mars unveiled the next single, "Gorilla", from Unorthodox Jukebox on August 25, 2013 at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. "Locked Out of Heaven" won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video and "Treasure" was named "Best Choreography".
According to the Los Angeles Times, Mars is expected to be the headline performance at the half time show of the Super Bowl XLVIII in February 2014. On September 8, 2013, Mars was confirmed as the Super Bowl half time performer.
As a child, his time spent impersonating Elvis Presley 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, Kanye West, The Saturdays and Kings of Leon.
Voice and music
Mars possesses a tenor 3 octave 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 Fuck You. 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." making him incorporate reggae- and Motown-inspired sounds into his work.
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.
Videos and stage
Since his career began, Mars introduced his all-male band, The Hooligans, a band that includes guitarist, bassist, drummer, keyboardist, and horn players. They serve also as dancers and background singers.
Mars is known for his ecletic stage presence that incorporates throwback styles from the 70's & 80's, vocally, musically and choreographically. 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 Monąe 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 (sometimes in Prince-like come-ons), 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 performance. Jason Lipshutz from Billboard said that Mars "does a better job at it (means entertaining) than almost anyone working in music right now".
Mars has worked with music video director Cameron Duddy on a handful of music videos, the first being "The Other Side" off his debut album Doo-Wops & Hooligans. In 2013, Mars released three music videos inspired on 80's/70's style. The lead "Locked Out of Heaven" described by himself as "old-fashioned fun" adding "It's very VHS-y". The second "When I Was Your Man" was "a vintage video where Mars stays behind a grand piano and pours his heart out." The third "Treasure" was recorded Betamax like a 1978's music video. "It's all there: The suits, the setting, and the bong-water video effects" says Kyle Anderson from EW. Gareth Grundy from The Guardian commented on his performance at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, saying "He might be keen to announce, during "Runaway Baby", that he's doing his James Brown dance moves, but he may as well be auditioning for The Blues Brothers musical (although he'd be certain to bag the lead role)." and "The final 15 minutes, which takes in biggest hits "Grenade" and "Just the Way You Are", is basically one long, smartphones-in-the-air singalong.". At the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards he performed a tribute to Amy Winehouse with her song "Valerie" which was considered "one of the award show's high points, both for its emotional resonance and its retro showmanship".
Due to the second album's accompanying tour, Toronto Sun reported that Mars will wear designs created by embattled fashion gurus from Dolce & Gabbana who "have taken inspiration directly from his work to create looks that were at the same time in line with his very personal taste, as well as with the DNA of Dolce & Gabbana."
Statements on racism
In the cover story for EW Mars confessed 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."
The Hooligans - Band members
Bruno Mars - lead vocals, guitar (2010-present)
Phillip Lawrence - backup vocals (2010-present)
Phredley Brown - keyboard (2010 - October 2012), lead guitar (October 2012 - present), backup vocals (2010-present)
Jamareo Artis - bass guitar (2010-present)
Eric Hernandez - drums (2010-present)
Kameron Whalum - trombone (2010-present)
Dwayne Dugger - saxophone (2010-present)
James King - trumpet (2010-present)
John Fossit - keyboard, piano (October 9, 2012 - present)
Kenji Chan - lead guitar (2010 - October 10, 2012)
See List of awards and nominations received by Bruno Mars for more information
Bruno Mars has earned numerous awards and honors throughout his career. Bruno Mars has sold 10 million albums and 58 million singles worldwide as a singer. He has sold over 115 million records worldwide and has an impressive catalog of 22 "Hot 100" hits as a singer, producer and songwriter. "Just the Way You Are" and "Grenade" are two of the most sold singles digitaly of all time worldwide with sales of 12.5 million and 10.2 million, respectively. Just the Way You Are" is also holding the record of the longest-reigning debut format hit in the chart's 50-year history, being able to spend 20 weeks atop Adult Contemporary. The single "Locked Out of Heaven" made its career-opening streak the longest among male artists in the chart's history. When "Locked Out of Heaven" was at number 2 and "When I Was Your Man" was at number 9, Mars became the first male artist to place two titles as a lead act in the Hot 100's top 10 simultaneously since his own "Grenade" and "Just the Way You Are" doubled up for eight consecutive weeks between December 2010 and January 2011. Besides this, "Locked Out of Heaven" spent a third week atop the Billboard chart, also topping the Radio Songs chart for the first time and continuing to lead Digital and On-Demand Songs, becoming the first song to top all four tallies simultaneously. "When I Was Your Man" obtained "Airplay Gainer" honors for the seventh week in a row, tying it with Rihanna for the longest streak in that chart's history dating back to 1985. Bruno Mars also has the highest total among solo male artists of number one songs on Hot 100 Airplay. He spawned five number one singles in the US, the only male who reached five leaders more quickly than Bruno Mars was Elvis Presley. In addition, Mars and singer Adele are the only artists to ever have a number-one song that only featured piano and vocals. On July 4, 2013 "Treasure" entered the top 10 on Radio Songs, due to this, Mars extended his perfect top 10 streak on Radio Songs, as all 11 of his entries have now reached the top ten. He tied with T-Pain for the longest career-opening top 10 streak among males dating to the list's December 1990 launch and is now within one of tying Mariah Carey for the best start among all acts. After "Treasure" entering the top 5 of Hot 100 Mars is now tied Rihanna for the most top five entries in that span.
Bruno Mars has won one Grammy Award in the category of Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Just the Way You Are" at the 53rd Grammy Awards. Besides multiple nominations, achieving a total of 14, 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 a Brit Awards for International Male Solo Artist at the 2012 BRIT Awards.