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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 then moved to Los Angeles, California, 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 and co-writing the hooks for the songs "Nothin' on You" by B.o.B, and "Billionaire" by Travie McCoy, which were worldwide hits. 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" and "When I Was Your Man", so far. 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), "Young, Wild & Free" (with Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa) and those already referenced.
Mars' work has earned him numerous awards and accolades, including a Grammy, 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 8 million albums and 58 million singles worldwide as a singer. Although as a songwriter, producer and singer, his total single download sales surpass 100 million worldwide. He has achieved a total of five number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and six singles in top ten, including first place with "Just the Way You Are", which sold 12.5 million copies and contributed to Mars became the best-selling digital artist, in 2011.
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."
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. Mars, Lawrence, and engineer Ari Levine began writing songs together, and formed the production team The Smeezingtons. In 2006, Lawrence introduced Mars to his future 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. In the meantime, Bay-Schuck hired Mars and the Smeezingtons to write and produce songs for the label's artists. According to Bay-Schuck in an interview with HitQuarters, Mars had stated that although his ultimate goal was to be a solo artist, he was willing to write and produce for other artists, both to help improve his songwriting and help him discover the type of artist he ultimately wanted to be. Bay-Schuck credits this as a period of "self-discovery" that contributed significantly to Mars' later success.
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.
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'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.
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.
Mars has confirmed on Twitter that his work on his second album has begun. On March 22, 2012, it was announced that Mars had signed a worldwide publishing deal with BMG Chrysalis US. Mars told Billboard that his second album will be called Unorthodox Jukebox and that it was released on December 11, 2012. Mars also announced that the lead single would be called "Locked Out of Heaven", which was released on October 1, 2012. Along with announcing the album title and lead single, Mars announced the other 9 songs of the album. He notes that the album will 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.
Mars hosted and was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live October 20, 2012. His performance as the host received positive reactions from critics and the public. 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".
Mars possesses a tenor vocal range. 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." 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." 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." Mars also stated that he is a fan of Alicia Keys, Jessie J, Jack White, Kanye West, and Kings Of Leon.
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. The local bands are heavily influenced by Bob Marley. 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.
Mars is known for being secretive about his personal relationships. On June 1, 2013, Mars' mother, Bernadette Hernandez (aged 55) died due to a brain aneurysm in Hawaii.
Bruno Mars has earned numerous awards and honors throughout his career. Bruno Mars has sold 8 million albums and 58 million singles worldwide as a singer. He has sold over 100 million records worldwide, as a singer, producer and songwriter. of all time worldwide with sales of 12.5 million and 10.2 million, respectively. 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.
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.
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