Also Credited As:Peter Gene Bayot Hernandez
|Peter Gene Bayot Hernandez on October 8, 1986 in Hawaii, USA|
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He was born Peter Hernandez on Oct. 8, 1986 to a Puerto Rican father and Filipino mother. He later attributed his unique sound to his multicultural background. Mars received the nickname Bruno from his father, who thought that his son resembled the professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino. Raised in Hawaii, the future star performed in his family's cover band, the Love Notes, before performing onstage as "the world's youngest Elvis Presley impersonator" by the time he was four. Using the stage name Bruno Hernandez, the young singer made his feature film debut in the romantic comedy "Honeymoon in Vegas" (1992), starring Nicolas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker. During his scene, Mars memorably performed "Can't Help Falling in Love" (1961) as a pint-sized Elvis.
After graduating from high school, an 18-year-old Mars packed up his belongings and moved to Los Angeles, where he signed as a solo artist with Motown. The deal dissipated just a few years after due to his label's inability to market Mars' image and music effectively. Instead of giving up, Mars stayed in Los Angeles and joined forces with other up-and-coming artists living in the area. He performed with in a cover band called Sex Panther with Jeff Bhasker, who went on to produce tracks for Kanye West and Ne-Yo.
In 2007, Mars formed a songwriting and production group called the Smeezingtons, along with fellow music industry hopefuls Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine. The trio worked in a small studio in a seedy part of Hollywood, churning out tracks for artists like Brandy and rapper Flo Rida. Mars and his cohorts were responsible for the catchy hook of Flo Rida's "Right Round" (2009), a single that topped Billboard's Hot 100 charts and was featured in the comedy hit "The Hangover" (2009). The Smeezingtons followed up with smash collaborations that dominated radio and music video outlets in 2010 - from Cee Lo Green's heartbreak anthem "F**k You!," to B.o.B.'s uplifting "Nothin' on You." Mars provided the hook on the latter, and his work soon caught the attention of Atlantic/Elektra Records. He signed with the label and began work on his solo debut, not realizing how much his world was about to change.
Just as his career was gaining steam, Mars was arrested in September 2010 in Las Vegas, NV for cocaine possession. While staying at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, where he had just performed the previous night, police allegedly found him in possession of narcotics. He later pled guilty to felony drug possession in February 2011. Mars' debut album Doo-Wops & Hooligans, released in October 2010, featured the lead single "Just the Way You Are," an acoustic-driven ballad that spent four consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified triple platinum. The second single "Grenade," which was more upbeat and rock-tinged than the first single, also did well in the U.S. and on international charts. Mars' work with the Smeezingtons, such as the singles "Forget You" and "Billionaire" (2010), also resurged in popularity after cover versions were performed by the cast of the award-winning comedy series "Glee" (Fox, 2009- ). Topping off a tumultuous but rewarding year, Mars earned seven Grammy Awards nominations in December, including Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year.
By Marc Cuenco