Bruno Mars serenades Miss April. (Tony Kelly/Playboy)
The Grammy winner, 26, dishes about the men who influenced not only his sound, but also his style. Growing up as a kid in Honolulu with a musical family (mom and dad met when they performed in a show where she was a hula dancer and he played percussion), Mars — born Peter Gene Hernandez — was heavily inspired by his parents' favorites. "Growing up in the showbiz world, I looked up to those guys: Frank Sinatra and, of course, Elvis Presley," says Mars, who impersonated the King as a child during his family's show and even in the 1992 movie, "Honeymoon in Vegas," starring Nicolas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker. "My dad was into the 1950s doo-wop era. If you look at those groups, or at James Brown, Jackie Wilson, and the Temptations in the 1960s, you'll see you had to be sharp onstage."
And while those guys influenced his fashion sense, it was another legend who inspired the "Grenade" singer's musical ability: Jimi Hendrix. "I think he's the greatest guitar player in the world, and I would want to see him do his thing in person," Mars tells Playboy. "He's the reason I picked up a guitar in the first place."
Though his sound is primarily a throwback to doo-wop and Motown, Mars — who also co-wrote Cee-Lo Green's "Forget You" — is quick to point out his take on the genre is not all poodle skirts and soda shops. His 2010 debut album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, which has gone platinum 36 times worldwide, "is not a 1950s 'Earth Angel' sound like you hear in 'Grease'-type movies. I could sing you a thousand and one doo-wop songs. I love the simplicity in that music. It's not super poetic, it's just from the heart."
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