Biography of Bruno Mars

Fastest Rising Male Pop Star Since Elvis Presley

Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars. Photo by Joseph Okpako / Redferns

Bruno Mars ( Born October 8, 1985 ) rose from the status of virtual unknown to one of the biggest male pop stars in the world in less than a year in 2010. He scored a string of top 10 pop hits both as solo artist and as featured vocalist on recordings by other artists. He earned his first five #1 pop hits faster than any male solo artist since Elvis Presley.

Early Years

Bruno Mars was born Peter Hernandez in Honolulu, Hawaii.

He has both Puerto Rican and Filipino ancestry. Bruno Mars' parents met as performers. His father played percussion instruments, and his mother was a hula dancer. 

At age three, Bruno Mars began performing on stage. At age four, he began performing with his family band Love Notes and soon earned a reputation as a child Elvis Presley impersonator. After listening to Jimi Hendrix, Bruno Mars learned to play guitar. In 2003, after graduating from high school at age 17, Bruno Mars moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue a career in music.

Bruno Mars signed to a contract with Motown Records in 2004, but none of his music was released before being dropped from the contract the following year. However, the short time with the label was beneficial due to his meeting future production and songwriting partner Philip Lawrence. In 2008 the pair met aspiring producer Ari Levine and the Smeezingtons were born.

Efforts as a solo artist, featured vocalist, and writing and production as part of the Smeezingtons all began to bear fruit in 2010. Soon Bruno Mars was a household name.

Personal Life

Albums

  • 2010 - Doo-Wops and Hooligans - Bruno Mars said the use of the word doo-wop in the title of his debut album was very meaningful. He grew with his dad sharing his love for 50s doo-wop classics. Bruno Mars said the beauty and meaning of doo-wop songs was meant for his female fans and using the term hooligans was a nod to his male fans. His favorite song on the album is "Talking to the Moon," a song not released as a single. Doo-Wops and Hooligans hit #3 on the album chart and ultimately sold over two million copies. It earned Grammy Award nominations for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. 
  • 2012 - Unorthodox Jukebox - Bruno Mars' second album explored a wide range of music genres including reggae, disco and soul. Bruno Mars believed that his debut album was somewhat rushed, so he took more time with Unorthodox Jukebox in order to make it perfect. He enlisted two British producers Mark Ronson and Paul Epworth to help put the album together. Unorthodox Jukebox became Bruno Mars first #1 charting album. It sold more than two million copies and won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album.
  • 2016 - 24K Magic - Nearly four years elapsed before the release of Bruno Mars' third studio album. He insisted on taking the time to make it even better than his first two. The album earned praise for its slick, professional approach. It reached #2 on the album chart and has sold more than half a million copies.

Singles

  • 2010 - "Just the Way You Are" - Bruno Mars says it took months to write his debut solo single "Just the Way You Are." He was thinking in terms of very direct love songs like Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight" and Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful." He wanted the song to sound like it came directly from his heart. Atlantic Records executives were pleased and praised it for sounding different from anything else on the radio. "Just the Way You Are" soared to #1 on the US pop chart and reached the top across mainstream pop, adult pop, and adult contemporary radio. It won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Male Vocal.
  • 2010 - "Grenade" - This song originated from a track by an unsigned band that producer Benny Blanco played for Bruno Mars. It was nearly completely rewritten into what Bruno Mars referred to as "a bit of a drama queen" song. The original version of "Grenade" was more uptempo instead of the slower, stripped down ballad it became. "Grenade" was a #1 pop smash in the US and topped mainstream pop radio as well. It also reached #3 at adult pop radio. "Grenade" earned Grammy Award nominations for both Record and Song of the Year.
  • 2011 - "The Lazy Song" - The genesis of "The Lazy Song" was a day in which Bruno Mars and his collaborators in the Smeezingtons were just relaxing and being lazy around the studio. The idea was easy, but fleshing it out with the reggae groove was a little more difficult. "The Lazy Song" was released as the third single from Bruno Mars' debut album and it became a third consecutive top five pop hit. It went to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached the top 3 at both mainstream pop and adult pop radio. "The Lazy Song" is also notable for its two music videos. One features the Poreotics dance crew wearing monkey masks and the other features veteran Leonard Nimoy.
  • 2011 - "It Will Rain" - Bruno Mars wrote and produced "It Will Rain" for the soundtrack to the film The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 with the Smeezingtons. It was written in the course of a concert tour. It's a midtempo ballad and some critics complained that it was overly melodramatic. However, "It Will Rain" became another pop smash for Bruno Mars. It hit #3 in the US and broke Bruno Mars into new charts. "It Will Rain" became a top 20 dance hit while reaching both the R&B and Latin radio charts.
  • 2012 - "Locked Out of Heaven" - The lead single from the album Unorthodox Jukebox was most influenced by the music of pop-rock group The Police. The song was produced by a team that included Jeff Bhasker and British producer Mark Ronson. "Locked Out Of Heaven" quickly soared to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. It spent a total of six weeks at the top. It earned Grammy Award nominations for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year. "Locked Out of Heaven" reached the top 10 across adult pop and adult contemporary radio while topping the mainstream top 40 chart. It also broke into the top 20 of the dance chart.
  • 2013 - "When I Was Your Man" - This is an emotional power ballad. Bruno Mars' collaborator Philip Lawrence says classic pop artists Elton John and Billy Joel were among their influences in writing the song. "When I Was Your Man" entered the pop top 10 while "Locked Out Of Heaven" was still at #2. Ultimately, "When I Was Your Man" reached #1. It also topped the mainstream top 40, adult pop, and adult contemporary radio charts.
  • 2014 - "Uptown Funk" with Mark Ronson - Although credited to British producer Mark Ronson as lead artist, Bruno Mars is the lead vocalist for "Uptown Funk." The song references 80s funk music by artists like the Time featuring Morris Day. It was the fourth collaboration between Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson. "Uptown Funk" became one of the biggest pop hits of all time spending 14 weeks at #1. It also reached the top of the adult pop and mainstream pop radio charts as well as the dance chart. It won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year.
  • 2016 - "24K Magic" - This was the lead single from Bruno Mars' album of the same name. It was created with the production team The Stereotypes. The song is influenced by retro 70s and 80s funk. "24K Magic" reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also reached the top 5 across adult pop, dance, and mainstream top 40 radio.

Impact

Bruno Mars is known for his showmanship when performing live. He sees Elvis Presley, Prince, Michael Jackson, and Little Richard as key influences. He became a major pop star in an era in which pop music was dominated by female solo artists. Bruno Mars plays multiple instruments including piano, drums, guitar, keyboards, and bass. 

Bruno Mars is credited with performing music that appeals across a wide age and ethnic spectrum of pop music fans. That mass appeal helped result in the 14-week run at #1 for "Uptown Funk." In 2011 Time Magazine named him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.