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Born: October 8, 1985
Age: 34 years
Born Place: Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
- record producer
- hip hop
Peter Gene Hernandez (born October 8, 1985), known professionally as Bruno Mars, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, multi-instrumentalist, and dancer. He is known for his stage performances, retro showmanship, and for performing in a wide range of musical styles, including pop, R&B, funk, soul, reggae, hip hop, and rock. Mars is accompanied by his band, The Hooligans, who play a variety of instruments, such as electric guitar, bass, piano, keyboards, drums, and horns, and also serve as backup singers and dancers.
Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Mars moved to Los Angeles in 2003 to pursue a musical career. After being dropped by Motown Records, Mars signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records in 2009. In the same year, he co-founded the production team The Smeezingtons, responsible for various successful singles for Mars himself and other artists. Mars rose to fame in 2010 with the release of the successful singles “Nothin’ on You” by B.o.B and “Billionaire” by Travie McCoy, both of which featured his vocals on the hooks. His debut studio album Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010) spawned the international number-one singles “Just the Way You Are”, “Grenade”, and “The Lazy Song”. The former won the Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
Mars’ second album, Unorthodox Jukebox (2012), became his first number one album on the US Billboard 200 and won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album. Its singles “Locked Out of Heaven” and “When I Was Your Man”, reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 2014, Mars collaborated with Mark Ronson on “Uptown Funk”, which topped many music charts worldwide and won Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 2016 Grammy Awards. In 2016, Mars co-founded the production team Shampoo Press & Curl, who replaced The Smeezingtons on the composition of his third studio album, the R&B-focused, 24K Magic. The record received seven Grammy Awards, winning the major categories of Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year. The album also yielded the successful singles “24K Magic”, “That’s What I Like”, and “Finesse”.
Mars has sold over 130 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He has released seven number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 since his career launched in 2010, attaining his first five faster than any male artist since Elvis Presley. As a songwriter, he was included in Music Week and Billboard magazine as one of the best songwriters of 2011 and 2013, respectively. Mars has received several awards and nominations, including 11 Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards, nine American Music Awards, 10 Soul Train Awards and holds three Guinness World Records. He has appeared in Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2011 and Forbes magazine’s lists of ’30 under 30′ in 2013, and Celebrity 100 in 2014, 2018 and 2019.
Early life and musical beginnings
Peter Gene Hernandez was born on October 8, 1985, in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Peter Hernandez and Bernadette San Pedro Bayot, and was raised in the Waikiki neighborhood of Honolulu. His father is of half Puerto Rican and half Ashkenazi Jewish descent (from Ukraine and Hungary), and is originally from Brooklyn, New York. His mother emigrated from the Philippines to Hawaii as a child, and was of Filipina, and some Spanish, ancestry. His parents met while performing in a show in which 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 professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino.
Mars is one of six children and came from a musical family which exposed him to a diverse mix of music genres, including reggae, rock, hip hop, and R&B. His mother was both a singer and a dancer, and his father performed Little Richard rock and roll music. Mars’ uncle was an Elvis impersonator, and also encouraged three-year-old Mars to perform on stage. Mars performed songs by artists such as Michael Jackson, The Isley Brothers, and The Temptations. At the age of four, Mars began performing five days a week with his family’s band, The Love Notes, and became known in Hawaii for his impersonation of Elvis Presley. When he was five he peed himself during a performance of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (1961), which led his parents to think they could be making a mistake. However, Mars never waivered. In 1990, Mars was featured in the Hawaiian tabloid shopper MidWeek as “Little Elvis” and performed in the halftime show of the 1990 Aloha Bowl.
In 1992, he appeared in a cameo role in the film Honeymoon in Vegas and was interviewed by Pauly Shore on MTV. When Mars was six years-old, he was featured on The Arsenio Hall Show and throughout grade school, he performed with his family’s band, two shows a night, covering Frankie Lymon and Little Anthony, as well. When he was a child he had a small version of a drum set, guitar, piano and some percussion and learned to play the instruments. By age 12, his parents divorced, thus ending The Love Notes act. His father’s various businesses, that ranged from temporary-tattoo parlor to memorabilia shops, failed. Consequently, there was no longer a steady source of income. He moved out of his parents’ house along with his brother and father. They lived in the “slums of Hawaii”, on the back of a car, on rooftops, and in an abandoned bird zoo, Paradise Park, where Mars’ father worked before it closed. The singer had to move to a new schools and initially he was bullied, but he became popular in his last school days.
Nevertheless, the time Mars spent impersonating Presley had a major impact on his musical evolution and performing techniques. He later began playing guitar after being inspired by American rock guitarist 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 President Theodore Roosevelt High School in Honolulu he sang in a group called The School Boys, who did several shows including opening for Mars’ father new band. The singer, while in high school, passed for the big time of Hawaiian entertainment, becoming the opening gig for a huge magic show and impersonating Michael Jackson in a celebrity-impersonators show, making $75 for performance.
After Mars’ sister in Los Angeles, California played his demo for Mike Lynn, (the head of A&R at Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment record label), Lynn summoned Mars to Los Angeles. In 2003, shortly after graduating from high school at the age of 17, Mars moved to Los Angeles to pursue a musical career. At that time, he lived on Mansfield Avenue and was surprised by the poverty and squalor of the neighborhood. He adopted his stage name from the childhood 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.” Moreover, the adoption of his stage name was also an effort to “avoid being stereotyped”, as the music industry tried to pigeonhole him as another Latin artist. They even tried to convince Mars to sing in Spanish.
Family and relationships
Mars’s brother, Eric, has continuously served as the drummer for his backup band, The Hooligans. Their sisters, Tiara, Tahiti, and Presley, as well as their cousin Jaime, make up the all-girl music group The Lylas. When she was young, Jamie moved in with the siblings due to parental issues. Mars began dating model Jessica Caban in 2011. The two remain a couple as of 2019, residing together in a mansion in the Hollywood Hills with a Rottweiler named “Geronimo”.
Mars returned from an overseas gig in May 2013 when he learned in the Los Angeles airport that his mother was gravely ill. He immediately got on a plane to Hawaii. His mother died the next day. On June 2, 2013, a publicist for Atlantic Records confirmed to the Associated Press that Mars’ mother had suffered a brain aneurysm. She had died on Saturday, June 1, 2013, at age 55, at Queens Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. Later, on June 7, 2013, the singer wrote about the loss of his mother on Twitter: “So thankful for all the love during the most difficult time in my life. I’ll be back on my feet again soon. That’s what mom wants, she told me.”
In 2013, Mars told Rolling Stone that record executives “had trouble categorizing him”, as they were clueless which radio stations would play his songs, and which people (black or white) were going to buy his albums. In the same month, he confessed that “Nothin’ on You” was rejected by a “music industry decision-maker” because of his race. 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.” In 2018, Mars was accused during The Grapevine, a series that explores African-American issues, of cultural appropriation on social media for using his racial ambiguity to profit from black music, and was criticized for mimicking the sound of past artists. Various black celebrities, including Stevie Wonder, Charlie Wilson, 9th Wonder, Marjua Estevez, and Stereo Williams dismissed the accusations. Mars has spoken often about his influences and has given credit to several black artists, such as Babyface, Teddy Riley, and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.
On January 28, 2014, Demetrius Orlandus Proctor filed a lawsuit, claiming he holds the copyright for the Travie McCoy and Mars’ track “Billionaire”. Proctor claimed he owned the copyright to the music and lyrics of the track since March 31, 2011, though the song was released a year before. As evidence, Proctor has submitted a United States Copyright Office registration certificate for “Frisky Vol. 1 to 30 (Tapes)”, issued in 2000. Proctor accused McCoy and Mars of “willful and intentional” infringement of copyright, seeking the destruction of all copies of the recording. Proctor claims he has exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute the song.
Mark Ronson and Mars’ “Uptown Funk” has received various accusations and lawsuits over copyright infringement. In 2015, similarities with “Oops Up Side Your Head” (1979) by The Gap Band led them, along with keyboardist Rudolph Taylor, and producer Lonnie Simmons to be added as co-writers of “Uptown Funk” and receive publishing royalties. In the same year, Serbian artist Viktorija argued that “Uptown Funk” infringed on one of her tracks. She decided not to sue Mars and Ronson. In 2016, electro-funk band Collage sued Ronson and Mars for copying their single, “Young Girls” (1983), while The Sequence, a rap group, claimed it infringed their single “Funk You Up” (1979) and sued a year later. In 2017, Lastrada Entertainment filed a lawsuit due to similarities with “More Bounce to the Ounce” (1980) by Zapp. The company seeks damage, a jury trial and prevent Ronson from profiting with “Uptown Funk”. In 2018, the Collage and Zapp lawsuit were dropped, it was not revealed if there was any financial settlement.
“Treasure” was re-registered with new writing credits, which included Thibaut Berland and Christopher Khan, due to the similarities with Breakbot’s “Baby I’m Yours”.
Billboard estimated Mars’ earnings around $18,839,681, making him the twelfth highest paid musician of 2013. Forbes magazine began reporting on Bruno Mars’ earnings in 2014, calculating that the $60 million earned between June 2013 to June 2014, for his music and tour, which made him thirteenth on the list of the Celebrity 100 list. In June 2017, Mars ranked at sixth on the Forbes World’s Highest Paid Celebrities, earning an estimated $39 million throughout June 2016 – June 2017. In July 2018, Forbes announced that Mars was America’s highest-paid musician of 2017, with an estimated total of $100 million. This, in turn, placed him at number 11 on the Celebrity 100 list as well as being his highest yearly earnings to date. In 2019, he was placed at number 54 on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list, with estimated earnings of $51.5 million throughout June 1, 2018, and June 1, 2019.
AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Bruno Mars has earned numerous awards and honors throughout his career, including eleven Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards, four Guinness World Record nine American and 10 Soul Train Music Awards. In 2011, Mars made Time magazine’s 100 list, while his former songwriting and record producing team, The Smeezingtons, earned several accolades. At the 2018 Grammys, Mars became the second artist to win Record and Song of the Year with two different songs from the same album. In 2019, Billboard placed him on number 41 of its list of Greatest of All Time Artists and was number 14 on the list of Top Touring Artists of the 2010s decade. In the same year, iHeartRadio Canada placed Mars on theirs “Icons of the Decade” of the 2010s, while Insider gave him an honorable mention as he didn’t made the cut for the artists that defined the 2010s list.
Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” became the second number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 to feature exclusively piano and vocals. He is the first male artist to place two titles as a lead act in the Hot 100’s top 10 simultaneously. In total, he has had seven number-one singles on the Hot 100 chart. In 2018, Mars matched Beyonce and Mariah Carey as the only artists with three Top Five singles on the Billboard Hot 100 from their first three studio albums. In the same year, he became the first solo male artist with nine number ones on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart. Mars, Ed Sheeran and Jewel are the only artists with two songs to spend at least half a year on the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10.
According to the International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI), “Just the Way You Are” and “Grenade” are two of the most successful digital singles of all time, with sales of 12.5 million and 10.2 million, respectively. This contributed to Mars becoming the biggest selling artist of 2012. His songs “Just The Way You Are”, “Grenade”, “Locked Out Of Heaven”, and “When I Was Your Man” have each sold over 4 million digital copies, making him the first male artist to do so as a lead singer. Six of his singles are counted among the best-selling singles of all time. Worldwide, Mars has sold 26 million albums as of 2016, and a total of 200 million singles as of 2020.
Due to the ticket reselling which occurred during the week after Mars’ performance at the Super Bowl, and in order to limit that kind of profiteering, Hawaii Senate President Donna Mercado Kim introduced Senate Resolution 12, also known as the Bruno Mars Act. It limits all ticket purchases within 48 hours of the on-sale date to the physical box office. This ensures that anyone who comes to the box office to buy tickets for a show should almost certainly be guaranteed a ticket and discourages ticket scalping. The State Senate in Hawaii passed the law. However, the bill died at the conference committee.